True Resilience Requires Rest

You know you’re working hard when your kitchen whisk breaks—actually snaps in half like mine and become garbage. This pandemic is pushing us all hard…but instead of scrambled eggs we’ve been dealing with a scrambled world, and for a long, long time. Over a year.

It’s an exhausting long haul, and none of us wants to snap like that whisk and become useless. Surviving covid is like being on a tour of duty that just won’t end, though we can hope it’s coming closer. So in light of all this I’ve been thinking about resilience…and what it really means. My sister’s professor said something really wise about resilience that I’ve been mulling over a lot:

“Our one prof spent the last afternoon talking to us about how most of us equate resilience with a stubborn determination to keep slogging but that rejuvenation should be valued just as much. If not more.”

Rejuvenation—becoming young again, refreshed, restored—not just grimly slogging on without stopping for water breaks. This is a more sustainable vision of resilience…one that doesn’t involve pushing oneself to the breaking point. It means not just having strength but also the humility to know that everyone needs breaks and gentle self-care, especially at times when life feels like a marathon.

This all makes so much sense, but can be hard to put into practice when you’ve been in emergency mode for a long time, as our world has. Despite everything we need to relax, play, enjoy little moments and rest.

Babies are good at this. They nap a lot, cause all their growing is exhausting, and they make sure to eat well and often. They ask for help whenever they need it. Sometimes they cry, and other times they coo, but most importantly, they trust that they are loved unconditionally. This is the part we adults most often forget.

I’m giving myself this lecture as much as you. When my dad got really sick with his cancer last fall, and I had the honour to care for him in his last weeks, I resolved to be strong. To be there for him. To do all that I could, despite wanting to crumble and break. When he died, I had to keep being strong. Plan the funeral. Bury my beloved father, who was my biggest cheerleader and one of my best friends.

After that, as his executor, months of paperwork. Serious responsibilities requiring me to be, you guessed it, strong. But now, almost six months after his death last year on November 9th, I wonder if part of me has become petrified—so strong it has turned to rock—and in that sense not fully alive. Avoiding the grief I couldn’t find time for. Fearing the tears that might cause these walls to crumble.

This is not true resilience. I know this. Having been through deep grief before when I lost my baby Josephine 6 years ago in labour, I know that recovery involves going through grief, not trying to put your emotions on pause. So I’m trying to give myself permission to feel sad sometimes, with the longing that is simply love prolonged. I’m trying to give myself permission seek serenity before productivity…which means taking little breaks to refill my cup, rather than always pushing myself to keep going.

This is hard for me. Do you struggle with this, too? Are you harsher on yourself than you’d ever be with those you love? Can you be brave enough to believe that you deserve rest, joy, and serenity just as much as anyone else? Perhaps if we all support each other, and encourage each other to be kind, even to ourselves, the world will be more filled with resilience and hope.

If you’d like more encouragement on this topic, check out Jenn Dean’s Families Matter Most podcast. It is awesome, and filled with simple, doable ideas: Three Things to Get Through Hard Times. Plus she is funny, warm and honest. Listening to her is like chatting with a great friend who builds you up. Cole’s notes version: every day, connect with your peace, your purpose and your people. The three P’s. Even I can remember that.

My new whisk! 😋

Twinkle

Wherein lies the greatness of man?

Is it in his capacity to make bombs?

To build rockets and race cars?

To speed through life and destroy?

Or is it rather in his ability

Despite these other abilities

To stop

Slow down

And give meaning to the smallest gesture

To caress the silken cheek of a flower

And see reflected in it

The face of his beloved

And the twinkling of God’s eyes?

Shining Eyes

At the back of the church

a woman rocks a smiling disabled boy.

Her delight in him–not even her own child–is obvious.

 

“Look at your smile,” she coos,

wiping his face with a soft rag

in a gesture that is more a caress

than anything else.

 

All this is not distraction

but divine work.

As the choir sings of the incarnation

and the boy’s eyes shine,

the woman knows she is touching

a piece of Heaven.

 

Ode to Gentle Hands

Gentle hands that touch

with a love strong and deep

know the body is no mere shell

for the soul,

but an outward expression of its being.

And when these hands soothe

calm and comfort,

when they restore dignity 

to the broken frailty of an aging body

by the gentleness of their touch,

they affirm with silent symphony 

that each person is precious,

body and soul.

For when the vessel is bent and broken,

light shines through the cracks

and love bursts forth in beauty.

  

A Father’s Gentle Strength

Being a father is being strong enough

to sacrifice everything for those you love…

constantly giving your all for your family,

bearing your little ones up with the gentleness

of someone powerful enough

to put others before himself.

Having a father is knowing you are never alone—

that there is always someone to hold your hand

and walk with you through the paths of this life

and into eternity.

How blessed are my children to have a father like this!

Thank you God for creating men who know how to love like you.

Help me always remember why I fell in love with the man

who is the father of my children,

whose love for me has become flesh

and walks among us.

Trumpet Lilies Rejoice

Welcome summer! Beautiful, wonderful, summer… nothing like sunshine beaming through green leaves and white flower petals.

There is amazing strength and resilience in flowers…no matter what goes on around them, what hatred or anger floats about the air, they continue to be themselves. Delicate and beautiful.


  

They don’t grow spikes unless they are meant to or turn black when those around them are harsh…but continue to be ever the same…vulnerable perhaps but strong in their vulnerability, because they won’t be put off course. They follow the plan inscribed in their tiny cells, and become the gorgeous things they were meant to.

May we all learn from this to be ourselves, our best selves, no matter what happens around us to pull us down.

humble offering

Sometimes when life is hardest

and we feel the need to draw our swords

and brandish a flaming torch

it is precisely the moment

we need to put them away

and instead wrap our hearts

in silken handkerchiefs

to cushion their fall

They may be broken

but with gentleness

perhaps they won’t shatter

With no words

to really console 

your broken heart

I can only offer

mine 

 

 

I Will Walk With The Lion

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Each night the kids and I explore by flashlight
the enchanted world of Narnia
till my voice lulls the little ones to sleep
and the big girls beg for just one more chapter…

We’ve met brave children, witches, satyrs and fauns
but above all, the One who brings the deeper magic
who makes spring return and ends the
“Always winter but never Christmas,”
they say it with a hushed whisper
Aslan!

The Lion, the king,
the beautiful and terrible
the creator and saviour
whose velvet paws contain immense strength
whose immense heart
is crowned with gentleness

And so here on retreat in the woods
I’ve been imagining myself as one of the children
having stepped through the enchanted wardrobe
into the forest of Narnia

I will walk with the Lion
through days sweet and light
And though there be battle
darkness and pain
with the Lion I will remain
in triumph and hope
I will walk with the Lion

And when I am weary,
I’ll lean on his chest
feeling his strength
the warm rumble of his breath
on my neck

His heavy paws hold me close
and his claws keep me safe
The Lion’s embrace
is my fortress

Together we’ll mourn
for the lost and the suffering
the Lion’s great eyes
pools of sadness
that shimmer with love

Close to him hope unties each knot of doubt in my belly
My heart melts into his golden warmth
and deep purrs embrace me
in a cocoon of sound
I am safe

Images of Silence

I.
The still water reflects the beauty of the sky
gorgeous billows of blue-tipped clouds
The rippling water has a busy beauty of it’s own
but takes all the attention for itself

Sometimes the noise of so much chatter
(mostly my own)
becomes like a wind which

blows out my interior candle

I need some silence
some still air
to let the flame rekindle
to warm the ember to a steady glow
burn brightly enough to heat me
from the inside out
light streaming forth
my eyes as stained glass
shining

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II.
The still morning lake
sits silent
grey and reflective
full of slightly fuzzy trees
solemnly upside down
green but not laughing

The majestic cedar trees
wave their thin green hands
ever so slightly
like ancient queens
acknowledging their people
who celebrate with the sudden confetti
of falling snow

Down below, the dew-spangled moss twinkles
and the ferns bow their heads shyly
Slippery salaal leaves shine
next to delicate huckleberry bushes
not yet adorned with tiny red berries

I’ll have to come back
in the summer

In the mean time
all these pieces of beauty
fill up the puzzle of my soul

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III.
Sitting here in the quiet chapel with
tall windows like eyes into the forest
I watch the snow fall against the cedars
like mercy from heaven
a gentle steady blessing
a constant message of beauty
a gift from one greater
ever reaching towards me
I am here I am here I am here

The snow falls
and my sleeping baby
breathes warmly on my chest
The candles glow
and the lake calmly receives
the many kisses of snowflakes

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