Enter into your rest

For my colleagues just finishing the school year, it is that joyous (even if overshadowed by job-action) time of year. There is actually nothing better than the very beginning of a summer that stretches out in front of you filled with longed for and well-deserved rest, time to breathe, to be, to reconnect with your friends and family.

Rest is absolutely necessary, even for God, even for Christ. And there are many kinds of rest, but all require an intentional entering in or a putting down, or a letting go. I wish all kinds of sanctifying and healing rest for you.

When I think about rest, I am reminded of two yoga poses – the warrior pose and the child pose. The warrior pose has every limb extended and pointed, and every muscle tightened – it a pose that is alert, in control, ready to attack and defend. It is the antithesis of rest. The child pose is the epitome of rest. The body is folded and prostrated. The head is lowered, defenseless, arms are outstretched and every muscle is softened. It is a welcome relief, even if only entered into for a moment. Humility, offering, and gratitude are present in this pose.

We experience both poses metaphorically in our lives and both are necessary, but I think we sometimes misunderstand them and misuse them (or at least I do). We tend to use the warrior pose in our interactions with others and the child pose towards our false selves – the self-indulgent prideful self. Our work lives are often experienced as a battle, a place where we have to prove ourselves, be alert, be strategic, be organized and efficient, be powerful. Our personal lives often lack discipline and we enter into a rest that isn’t really rest, it is usually merely escape and can’t possibly be sanctifying and healing.

I think the opposite is true. The warrior pose is really for battles with our ego and passions, for guarding our hearts with alertness, and the child pose is best used in our interactions with God and all others. I wonder what would change in our work lives if we entered into the rest of being a child while at work, if we let go of the need to be “over and against” all others, to fix and to figure out and to prove? What would our personal lives look if we took this time of summer rest to attend to our inner lives and war against the desire to prostrate before ourselves and sustain our selfishness and pride. If used this way the warrior pose may actually bring us the rest of inner peace at all times, and the child pose may actually bring us the strength made perfect weakness – the strength needed to heal a broken world.

Enter into your rest. If not yet ready for the warrior pose, the child pose towards God and others is a perfect way to begin.

Another teacher in the room

I have been thinking a lot about the need for spaciousness in any educational setting lately. The kind of space that allows life to blossom, questions to emerge, engaged and authentic exploration to happen, wisdom to be revealed, and true communion to occur. We often lament the lack of spaciousness in our educational contexts – lack of time, an overcrowded curriculum, limited resources, overwhelming diversity of needs – all valid laments and concerns and not easily ‘fixed’. So where can spaciousness be found? Where can calmer, clearer, harmonious educational endeavours happen – spacious endeavours that might actually alleviate some of the suffering that is ever-present?

I think this is an essential question for educators, open-ended and spacious in the sense that many answers can be revealed…if we are listening with warm and hopeful hearts. Flowers do not open in the icy winds of winter; they open in the warmth of spring.” (Abbot Vasileios)

One small but very rich answer was revealed to me today. I received a note from a person who participated in a curriculum conversation with me and several other colleagues. I was leading the conversation and she thanked me for letting her ‘interrupt’ and share her own thoughts and insights, to “allow another teacher in the room.” My response to her ‘interruptions’ at the time was one of gratitude – how wonderful that someone is building on my thoughts and ideas, refining them, translating them into new contexts, enhancing them. How wonderful that I, the ‘teacher’, get to listen and learn and be inspired by others.

I am always so grateful for other teachers in the room and they are always there: our students, parents, colleagues. And then there is the voice of the Holy – the One we hear when we remember we are on Holy ground. The One who is “heard in 1000 ways…and illumines a thousand places within you.” (Abbot Vasileios)

There is always another teacher in the room, always space for more.

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