January: Time to Rest

When I was seventeen, I heard a talk on rest that I think about every year around this time. The speaker celebrated the busyness and beauty of the Christmas season, with all its decorations and activity and sights and sounds. But after all that fun, she argued for the importance of giving our eyes and minds and souls a time of rest. So in her home, the garlands, the festive dishes, the mini villages of fake snow, the tinsel and the trees give way to a spare, clean atmosphere: white dishes, jelly jar drinkware, white candles, empty shelves and mantels, simple melodies played quietly.

After a festive December, January can feel slow and cold and boring. But, like all seasons, it comes with its own special (although less flashy) gifts: time and space. Those dark, cold evenings are perfect for long conversations, self-reflection, reading good books by a crackling fire. January is for soup and deep thoughts, slowly simmering.

I’ve always loved this idea, in theory. But.

“Rest” and “quiet” are lovely ideas, but I’m finding it harder to make them materialize in a space that is also home to three children– I’ve got a big girl making laps around the house in her roller skates, tiny Playmobil and Lego pieces strewn around like confetti, and a two-year-old permanently affixed around my neck like a heavy scarf that I can’t take off. And before I can set the table with my simple dishes, and cozy candles, I must first remove a day’s worth of school supplies, art work, water bottles, and goldfish crumbs.

And yet, I am not ready to throw in the crisp, white towel on the notion of a January of rest and peace. Because I know that as much as I love the idea of rest for my physical senses, all the white plates and piano tunes in the world will not calm a soul that is in turmoil. And this soul-peace is really what I am craving.

So of course I’m doing my best to keep the house in order. But just as importantly, I’m trying to cultivate deeper habits of peace: spiritual disciplines, mindful media consumption, a few optimistic new routines, responsible bedtime.

Anyone else have tips for finding peace amid the Playmobil?

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4 responses to “January: Time to Rest

  1. Lindsey, I love picturing you running around with a child affixed (as you dodge a roller derby queen) trying like crazy to fix your mind’s eye on simple dishes and a calm, white January! Your words are always fun and delightfully provocative. Thank you for taking the time to give the rest of us this gift!

  2. Well, I’ve got nothin. BUT I can relate! January and February are especially hard b/c (as you’ve seen first-hand), we’re stuck inside a lot. Being inside for days at a time with 3 children 8 and under is not conducive to “clean” and “quiet.” Sigh. But I know that this, too, shall pass. And one day I’ll (hopefully) look back with fondness at these loud and messy days. Hopefully.

    (That reminds me–I was thinking of that post that you wrote a while ago about people always telling you to “enjoy this time because it won’t last.” It encouraged me! I’ve been struggling a bit..ok… a lot! lately and I was reminded that if I’m NOT enjoying every moment, it’s ok. 🙂 )

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