Let the larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in..C.S. Lewis
My body, mind and spirit, depleted, cry out for renewal, replenishing, and extreme self care.
After months of attending to the needs of others, having guests, juggling work and family, and driving for months downtown during rush hour for my son’s theater rehearsals and shows, it’s time to fill my cup.
I’m intent on realizing these timeless, words:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
This week I’ll begin a soul care staycation – a special, homespun restorative journey weaved in and out of my day to day life. For months I’ve daydreamed about healing balms for my depleted body, mind and soul. I’ve realized each, vital components of our wholeness, need separate, special attention. Just as a parent with three children might create a special date for each child, I imagine setting aside separate dates for attending to each part.
“For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, …” -Ephesians 5:29
For restoring my weary body, I’ve daydreamed about sitting in the eucalyptus steam room at the local spa breathing deep the minty fog, sweat pouring out toxins and worn-out emotions from my pores. I’ve imagined no-drive Saturdays hanging out in my pajamas reading books and watching movies, feeding my body green smoothies and wholesome food. I plot a much needed weekend away with my husband in the desert — a delayed anniversary celebration, the two of us alone, soaking in local hot springs, gazing at star studded black night skies, resting and dreaming again.
How we treat our bodies matters, healthy food, rest, fresh air, exercise. I’m a holy food lover, pure, organic, non GMO foods, it’s a hobby of mine to eat well. Once I told my two four year old nephews that we don’t really need stores and restaurants, that God gave us everything already on the planet to eat and nourish our bodies. They sat on the couch in shorts and tank tops, stunned, two little meaty bodies with soft brown skin, their wide-eyed half-Asian eyes gleaming. When these brilliant little boys finally comprehended the possibility of my words, they giggled and giggled.
Sometimes I indulge – pizza, bagels, ice cream, potato chips, a glass of wine. This month, I’m planning on eating lots of fruits, veggies, and balanced wholesome meals.
Do ye not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you- 1 Cor 6:19
For the renewing of my mind, I’ve imagined intentional time each morning journaling, relinquishing chattering voices of worldly anxieties and concerns. I imagine dropping each nagging concern, unfinished business, each anxiety and troubling relationship issue into a great old stone well for God to handle.
When filled with fear, worries, stress, and troubles, our minds can wreck havoc on our lives. Emptying our minds welcomes the mind of Christ. Don’t we yearn for a God-breathed mind filled with peace, a gentle wind blowing contentment through tension twisted neurons, through trees of monkeys chattering on our brain stems?
Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God–what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2
As co-creators in God’s plan for a better world — whether we’re creating vocations, family life, or art — silence and solitude are necessary. As Picasso once said, “without great solitude, no serious work is possible. I’ve been daydreaming about a silent retreat at the monastery in a town about 20 minutes away, a way to shut the world out for a day, to attune myself to the voice of God. When I told my husband about my plan, he laughed saying he thought that town was all gangs, and couldn’t imagine a monastery there. I tell him it goes to show, we can find silent places even amidst chaos. In fact, we need to, we must.
As we untangle knots from our bodies and minds, we make home for the spirit.
Saint Paul said, “to fill your mind with the spirit is life and peace”.
For further renewing my spirit, I desire long walks on the beach, a special hike at a local reserve along the cliffs, the deepening of my prayer life.
I want more humility, to move my own will out of the frame of my days, making way for the will of God to crown my moments.
In beginning this journey, I’ve inscribed Jesus’ words on a surrender flag on a mountain within my soul.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
I’ll return to this mountain each morning of my soul care staycation, kneeling.
I haven’t put a time limit on my retreat activities – perhaps it will be week or two, perhaps a month of my imagined activities coming to life. I’ll go about my everyday life, but with intention, and carving out special time for staycation activities. Somedays may be simple things like carving out time to sit with a cup of tea on the couch to pray or journal, instead of going on the computer. Or buying some lavender bath salts, lighting a candle and soaking in a soothing bath.
I’ll know when my soul feels like dancing again, when the joy of God infuses each cell, each living breath within me. I’ll then return to my regular life, renewed. Perhaps God will place on my heart new ideas, fresh direction, and nuggets of wisdom. I’m eager.
However, even before I begin, I’m feeling the tug of selfishness, at times taking care of myself this way even feels scary.
If you’re like me, you might feel guilty about carving out time for yourself. Although I eat well, exercise, and engage in a daily spiritual practice, as I started planning my self-care regime, I noticed a frugalness, a nun-like tendency toward ascetic, suffering, an old, stern voice saying going to a spa, or time away at a retreat, are indulgent and selfish activities — that the fire of suffering is more purifying.
I wipe my guilty Catholic girl thoughts out of my mind.
I realize the idea of taking a silent retreat feels scary. By stopping, by separating myself from the noise of life, will I face a battle field in my own mind? Will issues, hurts, nagging procrastinations I’ve been pushing away surface? Or is true silence what I’m most afraid of, of giving up my own will? Will silence feel like falling into an abyss, loosing control?
Author Anne D. LeClare in Listening Below The Noise: The Transforming Power of Silence says, “Somehow we have become estranged from quiet and have developed not only a low tolerance for it, but an almost outright fear of it”.
For a moment I imagine finding bliss is possible at a silent retreat. Yet, then I remember a retreat I did years ago at the fancy spa in the southern California mountains, how my mind churned and churned like waves crashing in shallow waters on the shore. How, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t go deeper into quiet depths of my soul.
Can I venture ahead anyway, courageous in my pursuit of renewal? Can I say NO to the pressuring demands and expectations of my days, building blockades around me to shut out a forceful world, to quiet the doubts of being whole, of trusting God awaits me?
How will my family deal with part of me being pre-occupied with taking care of myself?
Sure they will. They’ll have to.
I know, too well, the repercussions of self- neglect, the dangers of burnout, of a depressed spirit, of how worthless we are to others when we’re spent. Deep down I know giving our bodies rest and pampering, emptying our minds, seeking silence and relinquishing our wills, are really profound acts. Such self-care is a kind of inner revolution.
In fact, they’re ways we escort the living God onto the throne of our lives.
So I intend to move forward toward the freedom of a renewed, unburdened body, mind ad spirit, to allow God’s will to merge within my soul, forming new and blossoming life, “enlightened by the knowledge of the glory of God.”
Would you join me by creating your very own soul care staycation, or enjoy a few special nurturing activities to your week? Or perhaps you’ll bookmark this blog to inspire you for another time? If you’re a local interested in joining me on a Monday silent retreat, do let me know. I’d love to share this journey with you!
Either way, I hope you’ll join me in honoring and remembering, we are the temple of the living God.
What is your temple like today? Sturdy, clean, healthy, in need of a make-over, a cleansing?
Is your mind cluttered or free, open for grace to sweep you off your feet? How is your spirit? Soaring, or slumped?
What needs most attention, your body, mind or spirit? Or all three?
I’ll keep you posted on how my unfolding soul care staycation is going…stay tuned!
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