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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Taking the time

"I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing, or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated, precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which come shape of achievement, the sense of one’s being, the satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some area an athlete of God. Practice means to perform over and over again, in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire." 
- Martha Graham

I woke up this morning to the gentle, calming sound of rain falling outside. The sky was a dull grey that looked endless enough to be promising. I was supposed to be volunteering out on the farm today, but we were going to work out in the garden and the soil would have been too wet so Guy gave me the morning off to enjoy the wintry day. 

I received a lovely long letter yesterday from a friend in Ecuador. It has been a long time since I received such a long, informative and engaging letter, and so I had promised to respond this morning if my trip to the farm today was canceled due to weather. After breakfast I made myself a lovely hot cup of India Assam golden-tipped tea with milk and honey. I love this tea. It is malty and full-bodied, and the flavour is luxurious--blossoming warmth and sweetness. Tea made, I settled down at my desk to respond to my friend's letter. Such a great way to start the day. Reading her letter, and responding to it reminded me, yet again, how rarely I take the time to write letters anymore, and what an art form letter-writing really is. It is an art form for the writer and it is a great opportunity to pay attention--to listen--for the reader. Such a gift. I find that I also notice myself saying things in letters to friends that I did not even realize I was thinking or feeling, so it helps me to take a step back and notice how I am moving through my days. Reading and writing letters also reminds me of our shared humanity. That we all have unique stories that are important to share with each other because a glimmering of insight from one person is often wisdom that can help someone else. We are all experiencing joys and losses, challenges and sorrows. We are all trying to grow and develop our capacities as human beings. So why not share our experiences of the process? 

Sitting at my desk responding to my friend's letter also made me slow down. How often do we say: "I will write back soon" and then just never do it? You probably do not have this problem, but I most certainly do. And yet how much deeper and more richly textured our relationships become when we take the time to share our inner thoughts, dreams, fears, questions and experiences of life. I have sent and received many notes in the last 24 hours, but none of them have improved the quality of my day as much as this one letter. It gives me pause to reflect. I want to do this more. I want to make the time to write deeper, more engaging letters even if it means I forgo commenting on people's status updates on facebook. If you were to ask me which I would prefer-- one handwritten letter or five comments on my facebook page I would obviously choose the former. Obviously....but in reality it is quite evident from the number of brief notes I send and the fewness of letters that I email or snail-mail that I am choosing immediacy over quality every day. 

So I am going to start an experiment. I am going to write a letter a day for the next week and see what the result is. I will let you know how it turns out.  

My teacup is empty, and it is time to bundle myself up and head across the city to study the story of Baha'u'llah's (founder of the Baha'i faith) life with another good friend. Time consuming? Most definitely. But I can tell you that my two hour weekly study sessions with my friend are like the peak of my week. I look forward to Thursdays, and the time we have set aside to slow down and engage in uplifting discussions on spiritual topics. 

Take some time to slow down and connect with a friend or family member. Sit down with them for a chat over a hot cup of tea. Ask them to sit down and say some prayers for someone you know who is in need of them with you. Tell stories. Enjoy the quality of the interaction. Turn off your cell phone and practice just being present. 

Have a great Thursday, friends! 

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