As I sit here, looking out over the Siuslaw river, the rain pours down hard, dancing on the water as it returns to the place from whence it came. Five minutes ago it was the sun that was raining down, pouring its light through the glass, warming my bare toes. And even as I write this, the downpour slowly subsides making way for another patch of blue skies.
The silence has been unfolding around me gently all afternoon. I’ve hardly moved from this spot on the couch, positioned conveniently in front of four large bay windows overlooking the peaceful landscape of the coast, and I’m not at all sorry. It is with startling precision that I feel the tension seeping from my muscles and out of my body like a thawing tree after a bitter ice storm- drip, drip, drip- and as I breathe in deep, I sense the clean air sweeping through the cavernous spaces created by the absence, and I feel whole in a hollow sort of way; raw and a bit vulnerable, but whole. I hadn’t realized how wound up I was until at last I wasn’t.
There is a saying, “the only cure for loneliness is solitude,” and in this moment I know beyond all doubt that this is precisely true.
And as I allow myself to open up to the silence, to surrender to the emptiness, beauty sweeps in like a spring breeze through an old, dusty cabin. It seems the lines that separate my senses have begun to blur and blend: for the fragrance of light is penetrating and the taste of the silence is palatable. I can feel the color of the trees taking root under my skin, their lifeblood mixing and mingling with my own, and the brightness in my eyes is back. It can be startling to peer at your own reflection and realize that you recognize yourself for the first time in ages; the human staring back at you, because who was it then staring back every time before? I had forgotten my humanness I think, that is, the good and holy parts of it. I seem to carry with me always the reality of my skin and bones, blood and muscles, my ceaseless pain and anxiety, and all the weight of my limitedness, no doubt. But more often than not, I forget to take up the lightness of my spirit that was meant to animate this shell of mine.
And as I continue to fully enter into this weekend getaway, this last minute retreat, I’m reminded of the word Shalom- in the truest, fullest sense of the Jewish word- and then immediately, Shabbat; the two, it seems, are indivisible. Without genuine, revitalizing rest, there will be no Shalom, and yet it seems I can’t manage to take either word seriously until I’m wholly desperate for them to revive me. And when they do, [and they are always willing to] I am reminded that there is a profound buoyancy inherent in our humanity, if only we can cultivate it. After all, we were made to inhabit our humanity, to live into it, not to be crushed by it.
And so, as I sit here while the hours pass by, I keep fighting the thought that “if only I lived here!” I would never leave this place. This place of solitude, of peace, of wholeness. But of course, people do live here, and they are every bit as caught up in the world of busy and go, go, go as I, and must seek out and cultivate rest and the spaces that fill them as well. And it occurs to me, that we cannot live in this space. No. None of us can. And to do so would be destructive even- ultimately. But, we can visit. And we should. Perhaps much more often than we do.