Under the Cedar Tree
My family is a large one. I have eleven brothers and sisters. My home was on the top of hill surrounded by the woods. My parents were city kids who moved to the country in the late 1950s. Our home was playfully known as Noisy Acres. It was a great place to grow up.
There was a cedar tree near the northeast corner of my family home. When the weather was fine, my mother used to take an afternoon rest under that tree. She would gather a f
olding chair (sometimes a lounge), a book and something to drink and arrange herself in the shade of that tree.
My brother and I would see Mom getting ready to take her rest and we
would ask to join her. Mom would look at us and say, ‘Yes you may come with me but you must be quiet and still.’ Not an easy task for a three- and four-year-old for sure! Mom would encourage us to gather a book or some other quiet activity.
Mom would spread a blanket out a little bit away from her chair. My brother and I would remove our shoes and then arrange ourselves on the blanket with our quiet activity. Of course, we would sometimes start talking or playing with each other and Mom would gently (and sternly) remind us of our agreement.
Another thing about the cedar tree was that it had prickly leaves that would fall on the ground making it a bit of a problem for our bare feet. I think my Mom may have chosen that tree as a deterrent to our moving about. The blanket would be spread out and we would kick off our shoes and soon found that it was better to remain on the blanket.
There was often a lovely breeze in that spot. There was no air conditioning at our home so the summer days could get quite hot – and finding a spot in the shade of the tree – whether the cedar or another – was a common summer day blessing.
Those moments of pause reclined on a blanket under the tree were valuable lessons. We could read a book, sleep, pray, watch the clouds in the sky, daydream or just be. We learned to be in the presence of someone else without filling the space with conversation or noise. For me, this has been a lifelong gift. It is in the quiet that I often feel the presence of Source. I hear the whisper from my heart and the urgings of how I will next serve others or, sometimes, how I need to serve myself.
The world is full of prickly problems. Our tender feet and souls are often poked and pierced. The pain of that piercing sometimes needs a moment of pause to feel the pain and look for the way beyond it.
We also learned how to know when the pause was done. We learned also how to re-enter. Sometimes the re-entry is as important as the pause. It is in the re-entry that we carry with us the experience of presence. This makes us less reactive to moments that challenge us. We have more patience. We understand that things change.
One of the things that I have also learned about pause is that sometimes I need to stay (or return) longer than I thought. It takes time to downshift from our busy lives. We need to experience the downshift so that we can experience the benefits of rest and renewal.