In Search of Rest

“To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself with established goals. … To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there top put it right.” - David Whyte, Consolations: the Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
photograph of cabin by the wetland showing orange wall with morning light.

In search of rest, I retreat from the world of 2019 and my “already exhausted will”. The walls inside the cabin by the wilderness are rough-cut pine, the natural color of the president’s orange hair. Alas! The world comes with me, even by the wetland: I cannot rest from comparisons and disdaining thoughts of orange hair and Greenland.

I’m worrying and fretting, wanting to put the world right: rescue the English language from the words that paint the world orange: words like ‘bad’…’good’ … ’nasty’ … ‘nice’ …’not nice’ … ‘loyal’ … ‘disloyal’, that divide, blame, simplify, stereotype, scapegoat, and choke the best in us. Words do matter. The unexamined underlying meaning of words matters most.

First thing in the morning, while Barclay is still asleep in his kennel, I do what I once disdained as flight from action. The word ‘devotional’ has a different meaning now. A ‘devotional’ is not an escape from responsibility. The half-hour devotional is what it says: to devote attention to the Source of consolation and solace in the world that makes my head hurt. Here at the cabin, I devote my attention to the Psalm before checking the mouse trap.

Sometimes the Psalm consoles; other days it does not. When something in the Psalm whets my appetite for the underlying meaning of the words, I turn to the Paraphrases of the Church of Scotland. The Paraphrases, like scripture itself, take me to an earlier time that knew nothing of the United States, Greenland, Denmark, or Mexico, orange hair, or the “summer camps” for migrant children along the border.  I read the Paraphrase of Psalm 146:

The stranger’s shield, the widow’s stay,
     the orphan’s help is he:
  But yet by him the wicked’s way
     turned upside down shall be. 
  — Psalm 146:9, Paraphrases

Consoled and nearly comforted by David Whyte and the old Scot paraphrase of the ancient Psalm, I put down the Paraphrases to fill Barclay’s bowl with fresh dog food before freeing him from his kennel, remembering the One,

Who righteous judgment executes
   for those oppress’d that be,
 Who the hungry giveth food;
   God sets the pris’ners free.
-- Ps. 146:7

But first I free from the trap the orange mouse my dog shall never see.

– Gordon C. Stewart, by the Minnesota wetland, August 22, 2019.

8 thoughts on “In Search of Rest

  1. Thank you for these words, Gordon. I’m still trying to find a place where I can be ‘set aside’ – avoidance of the news doesn’t quite do it, I’m learning. It’s time to become deliberate in my seeking of peace and solace. Your words help. Blessings today.

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  2. Words undoubtedly matter, Gordon, and I envy you your respite in the north woods. I try to carve out a bit of quiet time here in Florida by simply avoiding the news for as many hours of the day as possible. If I succumb to the headlines, I feel completely drained of energy and happy thoughts before the sun even breaks over the horizon…. 😦 Give Barclay a hug for me. Sweet boy. These Cavis always make ya smile. Lola is my joy.

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    • Good Morning, Lori, and thank you from Barclay to Lola for the hug. He and Lola are what you say. Sweet spirits that bring joy to their friends.

      Like you, I’m like the guy shouting to the world “I can’t take it anymore!!!” Sometimes it helps to just watch the sun come up. It always does!

      As always, thanks for taking time to comment. Be well!

      Liked by 1 person

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