’007: licence to still – bonding with restorative rest

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 13, 2007

With all due respect to the 1989 contribution to the saga of 007, Licence to Kill, with Timothy Dalton as James Bond and assailed by critics as excessively violent, one of our coffee companions has been inspired to affirm a lifestyle alternative characterized by quietude and inner peace.

It all began earlier this year – March ’007, to be exact. Cochrane writer/lecturer Elaine Phillips was attending a meeting of the Cochrane Ideas Society, a monthly gathering of local folks to discuss wide-ranging topics of current interest. The facilitator for the evening was author and keynote speaker David Irvine, who focused our attention on the importance of stillness in our lives.

Over coffee the other day, Elaine shared with me the life-changing implications of David’s talk for her.

“Among other things, he spoke of s-l-o-w-i-n-g down, living simply, finding quiet spaces, and listening to our authentic voice,” she said.

That evening, she had shared with the group her birthday experience of going up a tree at the King’s Fold Retreat and Renewal Centre, west of Cochrane. While in the stillness of the tree house, she said, she reflected on the previous year and pondered the year ahead. Several at the Ideas meeting spoke positively of her experience.

“You called this year ’007: licence to still,’” she said to me. “That phrase has stuck with me since then, and I find my own longing for stillness increasing daily.”

She went on to explain how the hectic lifestyle she had been unwittingly buying into was leaving her terribly fatigued and often dizzy. She had been forgetting the feelings of well-being that she experiences during times of rest and refuelling, she said.

“I’m healthiest when I listen to my body, obey its signals, and refuse to override my instincts.”

But since December, she had been ignoring those signals.

Such bouts of tiredness are not new to Elaine. She has struggled with them since her youth. In fact, during her university days, one of her professors even made a cot available to her in an unused classroom so she could nap between classes – a practice that caused others to accuse her of being lazy.

Over the years, she has kept a journal in which she has detailed her rollercoaster rides with debilitating fatigue and wonderful wellness. She began rereading her entries in response to David’s presentation.

“My journal entries reminded me that I need God’s sustenance; I need TLC (and occasional help) from others,” she said. “I need quiet space in the midst of the chaos of people; I need beauty and serenity. I need sunshine and rain; and I need to play. Most of all, I need solitude in order to refuel.

“How do I manage to learn all these life lessons when I’m unwell, only to promptly forget them when I’m well?

“I can’t believe I didn’t make the obvious connection – between my current lifestyle and my debilitating tiredness – before reading through my journal: I need more sleep than anyone I know, and I must deal with any false guilt once and for all. I need to make peace with my health requirements, and not try and keep up with all my fast-paced friends. I need to challenge – or simply ignore – labels that do not belong to me. One size does not fit all.”

All of us who know Elaine see her as a “people person.” But her best friends know she needs “to be alone for large chunks of time in order to want to be with people,” she said.

“My time is limited, my energy is limited, and my emotional resources are limited, but I act as though all three are unlimited. I realize I can only pour from a full cup – and pour I must – but that my cup no longer overflows. I do not want to be too exhausted to hear my Creator speaking through His Word; too blind to see His fingerprints all around me; too tired even to spend time being alone with Him.”

Elaine finished her coffee chat with me by emphasizing once more how David’s words back in March – along with her own common sense – have alerted her to the dangers of giving into the social pressures of unchecked busy-ness and frenzied activity, when her instincts tell her very clearly what she needs to do in order to thrive.

Henceforth she will remember this year’s important lesson for her health: “’007 will be my licence to still:

To slow down. To reflect.

To read. To write.

To drink tea, with friends, but also alone.

To nap. To sleep! To dream.

To re-create.

To refuel.

“I need to build up my resources for the days and decades ahead,” she said.

As do all of us.

© 2007 Warren Harbeck

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