Recently I have become aware again of something I probably have known for a long time. Perhaps I have even known it my whole lifetime! It is not a dramatic knowing, but it is healthy and can be healing. What more can we ask? Put simply, I became aware again of what I would call the simple soulfulness of quiet and aloneness. I can put more fancy spiritual terminology to this, but the simplicity is sufficient for now.
I like to be engaged in my work. I like being with people. I know my life still borders on the too-busy end of the spectrum. Even though I am getting older, I wonder whether I am any wiser? I know more than I execute. Ignorance often is not the problem. I know enough to grow spiritually, but frequently my stupidity blunts the process. So I find myself in the same place year after year. It is not a disaster, but there is a mountain yet to climb. I still like the metaphor of mountain when thinking about spirituality. In many ways, I still am a flat-lander!
Most of what I do is good stuff. I help people. I have fun doing what I do. There is virtually no complaint coming out of my heart. I am always tempted by the “more.” Perhaps this is the general sickness of America. From the get-go we are taught to go for “more.” This is not inherently bad; it certainly is not evil. But it can drain the soul. Paradoxically, in soulful terms, “more” is often like the desert. We are tempted to see “more” in lush terms, when in fact, it is desert.
Going for more usually takes more from us. It takes more time, more energy, more everything. Frequently that leaves less for our real, deeper, true self. Instead of nurturing that true self, we deplete it because we have no time, no energy, no nothing. Too often, we awake to discover that we have “more” and are feeling less fulfilled, less whole. Spirituality almost always turns out to be oddly true. It is true---but it is oddly true.
No doubt, this was the opening for recently becoming aware again of what I have known for a long time. It is as if I have to learn all over again the soulful necessity of being quiet and alone. The more normal spiritual terms for these are silence and solitude. I like these words, but sometimes I need a different vocabulary. So today I prefer quiet and alone.
I know the word, quiet, comes from the Latin word, quies. Obviously it shows us our English word. But I like some of the other translations, which give me even more spiritual depth. Quies also means “rest, relaxation, recreation and peace.” These are all very good words for me to give focus. But spiritually speaking, they have to become more than simply words or interesting ideas. The spiritual trick is to take the idea and incorporate it into one’s actual life.
Physically everyone knows the need for rest. Most of us go to bed at night in order to get rest. Our busy lives need rest from activity---from involvement. Relaxation is a different version of rest. To relax is typically an antidote to the seriousness and, sometimes, stress we often find in our lives. These kinds of issues can be problems for people even when they have left the work world.
I have always liked the idea of recreation. Of course, it can mean play; that’s what it meant when I was a kid. Recreation was recess from classes! Recreation was playing instead of working. It was meant to be fun. However, for too many of us recreation came to be a kind of alternative stress. We played too hard. We risked not having any fun at all. That is when I needed to be reminded that recreation is really re-creation---to be created again and again.
Time alone has been as important to me as being quiet. I don’t think that is simply because I am slightly introverted. Time alone frequently is recreational for me. It is rest and relaxation. Spiritually speaking, being alone allows for time to meditate and to reflect. I am absolutely sure being spiritual requires routine reflective time. We need that time alone to ponder and to pray. As quiet is recreative, so is alone time restorative.
Thinking about this again reminds me that spiritually deep people know they need a regular, routine time to be quiet and be alone. I know personally my life goes better if I have some of this on a daily basis. Of course, it is difficult (or so I think) to have this as part of my daily discipline. But that’s the rub.
If I think it is too difficult to build into my life, then I probably am losing touch with the soul nourishing care I most need to be the person I want to be. When I forget, my soul begins to be rushed, stressed and out of whack like the rest of me. It is at this very moment I want to remember, whisper, “hush little soul,” and re-engage life at the soulful level I most want.