We’re in Austin, TX for four months, resting. Well, that’s what we tell people.
But, after three years traveling two different continents at a relatively active pace, I would say we are here in Austin to learn to rest.
Rest doesn’t come easy when one’s value is based upon what one accomplishes. Poet, David Whyte writes; “Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest it to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through 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 put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange…”
Oh! It it is nearly impossible to engage in. All of the elements are in place, our desire to seek rest initially lead us to have conversations with kinfolk in Austin when we were here in May. They in turn began to share our need for rest with their neighbors, etc… We prayed and asked for this rest. Then a friend spoke with a friend, who had a friend, who had a precious plot of land right on Lake Austin. He was happy to gift us with a place to park our rig, allowing us amenities of sewer, water and electricity. He met us when we arrived and welcomed us, stating he hoped that we would use the property well and that rest would come. He then took us for Texas BBQ and went on his way.
So here we are with this beautiful setting, the sun shining on cue each day we wake, and just enough in our fridge to fill our bellies.
The first week, Rhys was still with us, finishing out his four weeks on the bus. So, much of our time was spent showing him the amazing sights and sounds of Austin, including Barton Springs, Torchies Tacos, Congress Street, the University area, Contra dancing and a day for packing and swimming at the lake. It was a great week and I’ll write more about it later.
The second week there was an inkling that rest was upon us, but the slow down was going to take time. Our bodies were ready, but our minds were still consumed with outpouring and giving. We volunteered with our kinfolk at MLF, we sought new friends on street corners, and through our social media and began hosting gatherings at the lake.
Then in the third week, we were scheduled to attend a folk music conference. We went, engaged with our fellow folkies and shared music. We met Matt Nakoa, a fellow muso from NYC, and quickly found kinship with him. We were careful though, as we didn’t want to distract him from benefits that the conference had for him.
All the while, we could feel a wooing happening in our hearts towards rest and the desire to give in to the rest was coming upon us like a wave far out in the ocean, building and building. What a dichotomy to have a spiritual awakening in such a physically driven place. It started to feel like we were trudging through mud, we were meant to be networking and gleaning wisdom about the music industry. Instead, many conversations, which started with practical ideals about traveling and touring full-time, ended in philosophical and spiritual musings about faith and purpose. Some of the conversations where so beautiful, and others were met with a deer in the headlights stare.
You’d think after that weekend we’d finally give in, but instead we had another party at the lake. (And, I should mention, that we all were feeling different levels of this pull towards rest, however, I was the one most resistant) The party was relaxing and some really great conversations happened. Another weekend passed and then it hit. My mind started to spiral after a few misses from friends who we still hadn’t seen in Austin, all whom had worthy excuses. None the less, it brought up insecurities and feelings of unworthiness, and lack of purpose. On Saturday night we shared sacred space with a group of folks we met a few weeks earlier. It was refreshing, yet I struggled to maintain composure. We went to church on Sunday and the minister talked about how important encouragement is to the soul. He talked about how we need to encourage one another day after day, so that we won’t lose heart, leaving us vulnerable to temptation. I could feel my heart slipping. I wanted rest, but rest seemed to represent loneliness, a feeling I know all to well.
So, here we are one month into our stay and this morning, after weeks of mind battles about rest, white knuckling, running here and there on supposed errands, worrying about this and that, I woke with an ever-present monkey on my back. I knew it was there all along, but I finally decided to let it go. I spoke, “I want rest. Real rest.” I needed worship. I needed a moment of intimacy with the one who offers rest. I downloaded “All Sons and Daughters, Tonight” and as I listened and sang along I allowed the wave of rest to wash over me, remembering and releasing the need for an inner sense of accomplishment or even an imagined state of attained stillness, but rather to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of super natural exchange. I’m sure it will be a journey but as these waves wash over us through the next few month, I trust that we will slowly, rest easy.
How do you define rest? And, how do you find it?