Recent years have taken a toll that’s still catching up with us.
Enuma Okoro in the weekend paper got me to thinking about this today— although, truth be told, it's a nearly daily reflection. She turned, as is her beat, to the visual arts for inspiration & consolation; in particular, an especially timely painting of the Dutch artist and photographer, Peggy Kuiper: a piece called "Generations."
"I was drawn to the tender care of the fallen woman that Kuiper was able to express through this strongly drawn community of characters," she explains. "I imagined the horizontal woman collapsed rather than dead, perhaps from despair, perhaps from exhaustion. The image of support and compassion made me think about how life-giving and necessary it is to have a community of safe keepers who can bear witness to our varied states. We might feel some hesitation or fear of being judged or ridiculed for admitting we are feeling less than wholly ourselves, especially when we seem healthy and in step with life’s responsibilities. It is an image of being cradled and attended to in a human moment of weakness. The person with the hand on her head is wearing a robe that looks like a religious garment. I see this as symbolic of the sacredness of care and presence."
Not everyone has the freedom to step away from the exhaustion of life. And though that doesn’t mean one should be guilt-ridden about taking the rest one needs, it is a reminder that rest is a basic necessity for everyone, not a luxury. Rest enables us to live, work and serve better in the long run. It is not a bowing out of responsibilities or concern. To rest is to act with wisdom and to maintain a long view of our commitments. If none of us fess up to the exhaustion that is deepening in our lives, then how will we be able to pay attention to the areas of our lives that need care, and by extension be strengthened to care for others?
Over the coming weeks, I will share the meager tips & tricks both I and people in my care have discovered over the years— life coping tweaks for not only R&R, but what Ms. Okoro rhapsodizes as a "deep stillness of body, mind and spirit."
And yet also, I think we need to add, the reassuring confidence of a dependable, always there to be drawn upon, underlying vitality & resilience. More to come.