It seems to be pretty universally established at this point that I love to talk. In the rare and intermittent times that I am not talking, out loud, I am typically, as of late, at least writing in my head. And on the even rarer occasions that I am doing neither of the previously mentioned things, it is a safe bet that my mind is at least blanky, racing.
I am planning, plotting, writing lists, revising lists, creating recipes, coordinating outfits, revisiting lists, and altering recipes, making plans, changing plans, the list is endless. Needless to say, my mind is rarely quiet, my life is rarely at peace.
This past Sunday, I found myself on a single day off in the midst of a stretch of many days at work. Typically I dread this single day of freedom, it hardly feels like enough time to catch up on rest, let alone catch up on all the neglected areas that are the result of multiple 12 hour shifts. I often find myself, in the midst of preparation for one of these singular days off, struggling to decide if it will be a relaxation day or a catch up day, convinced it simply is not possible to make it both.
That’s the beauty of the weekend, it allows you a day for each. And don’t get me wrong, my schedule allows for amazing amounts of time off, but every once in a while, in one of these long stretches, that lonely day off is hardly enough. I went into the day stressed about it. I was almost out of clean scrubs, I was certain there was a dirty dish or two in the sink, and it had to be at least a week since I last scrubbed my toilet. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of catching up I had to do. I went into the day with full intentions of work, work, and work.
And then it came. Instead of sleeping in, the one luxury I had allowed myself in planning, my eyes popped open at 7am ready to face the day. I finally pulled myself out of bed and started the day early. I ran out to grab a cleaning supply I needed, deciding to allow Starbucks to brew my morning coffee. As I stepped into the street I was greeted by a dear friend I had sorely missed. He too had woken early and chosen to venture into the city streets. I was finally enjoying a day off, and he was finally working. He being the sun.
I felt a smile spread across my face as I was shocked by the lack of bitter cold and cruel darkness. The sun makes all the difference.
I will spare you further boring details, but a day whose intentions had been work turned into something so much more, something I needed more than I may ever need a clean toilet.
Desperate to not miss the joys of the sun a friend and I walked to brunch by way of the park. Surrounded by runners and other casual walkers I was warmed by the community of a Sunday in the park, the community of the temporary break from a rather harsh winter. With full bellies we continued to walk. We wove through a farmers market on the Upper West Side and then cut back into the park at one of my favorite areas. As we neared one of the lakes, my friend pointed to a quiet gazebo-type structure tucked away down by the water. We walked down and sat on benches under the protection of the structure. The frozen lake was at our feet, scattered rose petals over the ice. On the surrounding shores of the lake I could see many other people enjoying the park, but I could not hear them. Tucked down by the water I could not hear the busy sounds of the city streets. Even as others ambled down to where we sat, they too were quiet and unobtrusive.
I felt warm and still. I felt quiet and calm.
I thought back to a song I remember often singing in church, the chorus says
You’re calling me to lay aside the worries of my day,
To quiet down a busy mind and find a hiding place…
But how rarely do I do that? How rare is it that I truly lay aside my worries, and as importantly genuinely quiet down my busy mind.
A sudden peace washed over me as I sat in a small gazebo, on a small bench, on a little lake, in a big park, in a bigger city. It suddenly felt easier to breath. I closed my eyes and sat, taking in the quiet, the warmth, the stillness. I could not tell you when I last felt that peace.
As the time came to walk on, I at first hesitated, not wanting to leave that place or that feeling. But as I rose to move, I realized that the peace was coming with me.
All week, that peace has stayed with me.
Through chaos at work, through conflicts with people I love, through their resolution. This week as I have felt anxious or inadequate, through feelings of failure and insecurity, I have stayed full of that peace. I have revisited it daily.
As this weekend approaches, as you make your plans, I encourage you to find a moment and a place to find that peace for yourself.
To lay aside the worries of your day, to quiet down your busy mind, to find a hiding place.
For me this week, it has made all the difference.