Feeling rested

About 15 years ago I was anticipating a flight home from Paris, and I went to get some food for the long flight. It was my birthday as well so I needed a little chocolate something. It was 7:30 in the morning and there I was in the middle of Paris headed for my favorite bakery. I looked around and saw a few people. But few would be the operative word. Mostly I saw the street cleaners out and occasionally a waiter arriving to a cafe. I was in awe. In Washington, DC where I was living at the time, 7:30 is a very busy time. Some people might even be late for work if they arrived at 7:30. Or they might have just finished at the gym or with yoga.

It was obvious to me from this moment that we make up these notions with time and what we will do with it. The French wouldn’t consider such an early start given an opportunity. I remember that it made such an impact on me that I stopped coming in at 8 AM. Additionally to do all my meditative and prayer practices my day began before 6 AM.

Over the decades I slide back to my workhorse habits and can readily begin early and get up even earlier. But I’m here to say that these few vacation days have reminded me that we make up these ideas about time. I’ve luxuriated in staying in bed until 7:30 every day. And I feel rested in a way that even my most favorite thing Qigong couldn’t manage. We all need that quiet rest time where the demands are few and the communion with the inner expansiveness is all that happens.

So take some of this Winter season when it is the time to be quiet and still to properly rest and find that heightened sense of your own self in the process.


Today as a New Beginning

As the earth makes its journey around the sun, we mark the obvious changes from season to season according to the length of the days and the amount of light. Today is one of these days – the Winter Solstice. This is our shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Also this year it is a new moon. The new moon coinciding with the Winter Solstice occurs once every 19 years.

The new moon when we look at the night sky marks the monthly place that we begin to move from the dark to the light. So here we are in the double whammy this year between the shortest day and the darkest night of the month, as a moment to pause, rest, reflect and move toward something more. I slept late luxuriating in the energy of this day and then I awoke knowing what the most important thing might be.

Last night at a lovely holiday party I was speaking with someone who works as a chef and I was asking him about what he likes to cook. While he couldn’t really answer this question because he didn’t have a favorite recipe or cuisine, he did say something really important. He said:” I make sure that in doing the work that comes from my heart and love so that the food is filled with that as well.” I could feel it when he said it. He has found a way to share his heart in the world.

I also am blessed that every day I go to work that I love and love the people who trust me enough to let me into their world. I jump out of bed maybe not anxious to get on the metro, but happy to arrive to the office. I get to be in my heart all day long. And this does seem to be the best way of savoring the light within as well as seeing the light within another person.

So on this moment of moving forward in the year and the month toward a time of more light the usual question might be what new things are you looking forward to in this year? And that would be a good and valid question, but my little addition to this would be what new things do you want to do that you would do with all your heart and with love? What would you love to give birth to in your life? This is the moment to decide. Your heart knows the way.

Writing about this I am reminded of one of my favorite poems which says it all. So I leave you with this as a holiday offering. Happy Holidays, Eve Soldinger

I Ask for Silence
by Pablo Neruda

Now they leave me in peace.
Now they grow used to my absence.

I am going to close my eyes.

I wish for five things only,
five chosen touchstones.

One is perpetual love.

The second is to see the autumn.
I cannot exist without leaves
flying and falling to earth.

The third is the solemn winter,
the rain I loved, the caress
of fire in the rough cold.

Fourthly, the summer,
plump as a watermelon.

And fifth, your eyes.
Matilda, my dear love,
I will not sleep without your eyes.
I will not exist but in your gaze.
I adjust the spring
for you to follow me with your eyes.

That, friends, is the sum of my wanting.
Next to nothing, close to everything.

Now they may go is they wish.

I have lived so much that someday
they will have to forget me forcibly,
rubbing me off the blackboard.
My heart was inexhaustible.

But because I ask for silence,
never think I am going to die.
The opposite is true.
It happens I am going to live—

to be, and to go on being.

I will not be, however, if, inside me,
the crop does not keep sprouting,
the shoots first, breaking through the earth
to reach the light;
but the mothering earth is dark,
and, deep inside me, I am dark.
I am a well in the water of which
the night leaves stars behind
and goes on alone across fields.

It’s a question of having lived so much
that I wish to live that much more.

I never felt my voice so clear,
never have been so rich in kisses.

Now, as always, it is early.
The shifting light is a swarm of bees.

Let me alone with the day.
I ask leave to be born.


Planting the seeds of compassion

Last month I attended an awards ceremony at Search for Common Ground, an organization that works to end violence through dialogue, media, and community programs. They had some amazing people receiving awards; one was Scarlett Lewis, a woman who lost her 6 year-old son Jesse in the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14, 2012.

I was, as most of us were, horror stuck to hear of another violent madman taking innocent lives that day 2 years ago. My heart went out to the families who had to face this. And the way, Ms. Lewis faced this was remarkable and immediate. At his funeral she spoke the following words:

“People have been asking me since the tragedy what they can do to help. If you really want to do something to help, then do something that will help all of us by turning an angry thought into a loving one. This whole tragedy began with an angry thought, and that thought could have been changed to a loving one. If it had been, none of us would be here today to bury a child we all loved so much. So if you want to do something to help, then do what Jesse would have wanted you to do to honor his memory- take one angry thought you have each day and turn it into a loving one…and with one loving thought at a time, we will change the world and make it a better, safer place for our children and our children’s children. If you want to help, please choose love.”

As it happened I started to read her book Nurturing, Healing, Love on the second anniversary of this event. It wasn’t planned to commemorate the event. It wasn’t until I looked at the date on the page that I realized the timing. It’s a book of more courage than grief, more compassion than pain, and then more love than anything else. She doesn’t minimize the pain that she has been in but found a clear and clean way to make something out of this tragedy that can help us all in our communities. Her faith in the Divine and God was mostly unwavering. The message is worth the reading.

Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother’s Journey of Hope and Forgiveness