Pause.

jellyfish

We are caught in the steady, persistent, ruthless flow of time. And yet there are moments when we can step out of time to pause, focus, and gain perspective. The arts do that. As you admire a piece of art, whether photograph, painting, novel, poem, film, dance and so on, we are grounded in detail. We can observe intricacy. We pause in the captured emotion and can rest there awhile. We are transported.

When the cares of the world become too great, we can pause and admire the detail in a jelly fish, the sweetness in bird song, or read soothing words such as these by Wendell Barry:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

Take a moment to pause on something beautiful.

Pause.

awhile

The world these days moves at a breakneck speed. Twitter and social media speed it up even further.

We are tempted to respond to everything and everyone immediately with whatever thought first passes through our minds. But is that always our best thought? Once said, can it be retrieved?

Often, it is far better to pause, to breathe, to contemplate before deciding whether what we have to say can meaningfully add to the conversation or will just contribute to the din.

Rest and be thankful.

rest

Without the rests and pauses, music would just be noise. The pauses add shape and definition to any composition and allow the rise and fall of the melody to stand out. In order to hear the music that is our life, we need to pause. Between tasks, before we react, when others are speaking. We need to rest when we are weary, to conclude that not everything needs to be done today, now, or maybe even at all. Sometimes less is more.

And as we pause, let us give thanks. For this life, these opportunities, these people (including those who vex you), and the abundance of life all around us.

Thanks for it all.