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Resting Places

By Kathy Hendricks


If you have any understanding of music, you know that the rests are as important as the notes. Try to imagine the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony without them. The “bump-bump-bump-BUMS” that are so familiar to even the musically illiterate would not be nearly as memorable if they went on in successive fashion. It would than be just a mishmash of sound and not the dramatic and attention-grabbing masterpiece that is so familiar to us.


It goes without saying that the rests in our daily lives are as valuable as the moments of activity. Without them we become manic. “Give it a rest”, we might tell someone who can’t stop obsessing about whatever cacophony is blaring in her head.


As I noted in a previous blog, I made attentiveness to beauty my New Year’s intention. Now that we are halfway through the year, I am happy to say it still holds. Much of that is due to finding resting places throughout my days. As with a musical composition, these entail silence – if only for a minute or two.


When I taught second grade many years ago, the teachers were asked to incorporate something called “Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading – U.S.S.R. for short – into each day. It was a five minute rest period in which everyone, including the teachers, was to spend time reading something we enjoyed. I’ll confess to letting the period last a bit longer on occasion because the children loved it so much. The silence was a respite amidst so much seven-year-old energy and I could see how naturally the children gravitated toward it.  


Some of my most cherished memories of childhood are the times I spent alone and in quiet. Since our house was the center of family activity and lots of social gatherings for my parents, finding resting places was both a quest and a gift. “There is more silence in one person than can be used in a lifetime,” the Swiss philosopher Max Picard wrote. In this “Still Blooming” time of life, I think I am trying to use up as much as I can.


Barbara Anne Radtke

Kathy, I like how you have used the rest in music to create a reminder to rest in this world of non-stop noise and busy-ness.  I am not trained in music, but it seems the musical rest helps establish the rhythm of a composition. The rests in our day, the rests in the season of the year, the rests in the season of our life helps us establish the rhythm that is essential to a composed life.

You remind me that, at a time in my life when I was very over-committed, I had a little experiment to discover if I had lost a good rhythm to my life. I would get the three-minute egg timer, which was shaped like a small hour glass, and bring it with me to the rocking chair in the living room.  I turned the glass over, closed my eyes, and gently rocked.  The respite was meant to bring a little joy or calm to my day.  If, instead, I kept fidgeting, eager to check the timer to see how much more sand needed to sift to the bottom, I knew the pace of my life was out of rhythm.  I knew I needed to re-compose myself.  I would start by using that egg time in the rocking chair each day. Eventually I drew on my experience in that resting place to learn to take advantage of the other times and places of rest in my busy day, week, or semester.

How do you, dear reader, maintain the rest you need in the rhythm of your life?

Photo credit: Ron Hendricks - Used with permission.

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