Thanksgiving is almost here, and soon behind it are the first days of Advent, leading us quickly to Christmas! Amidst the joyous holiday preparations and the rush that seems to come, I always yearn for more intentional pauses and moments of rest to connect with what is most important. Let's be honest: the holidays are exhausting for everyone, and sometimes we lose sight of what is coming!
Recently, I was interviewed for this article, "Sabbath Rest Isn't Just for Sundays," and as we talked about rest, I was reminded how vital and elusive rest can be, especially as we move closer to Advent. Mostly, though, it is countercultural. But it does not have to be hard, even busy people can find rest, trust me. For more on that, I recommend you read the article and then the fantastic book by Tricia Hersey, "Rest is Resistance."
The rest I am talking about is not just about catching up on sleep or taking a break from the holiday frenzy. It's a deliberate act of self-care that nurtures our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. And it goes against the holiday calendar.
As I write in the pages of "Fully Human, Fully Divine," it is possible to slow down and savor the coming of Christ. But it is also a practice. It is true - we find true rest when we rest in God.
This short reflection is a simple reminder (and hopefully encouragement) that this holiday season does not have to be an exhausting flurry of activities. It can be a time of profound connection with those around you and your whole self as you savor the season.
Let's slow down together and savor the season's gifts as we rest in God's hope, peace, joy, and love. Rested is the way to await the Christ child!
I would love to accompany you along the way. You can download your 2023 Advent Calendar and find additional resources here: WhitneyRSimpson.com/Advent.
How will you find rest and savor what is to come?
In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where the waters of Lake Junaluska reflect the beauty of the land, I recently hosted a group ona Yoga & Silence retreat. As we began, we chose to honor the spirit of this special place, a sacred ground named after Chief Junaluska, a revered figure of the Cherokee tribe.
As we gathered on this hallowed ground, we acknowledged the deep history and significance of Lake Junaluska. Since the first Methodist assembly gathered there in 1913, this place has been a sanctuary for rejuvenating mind, soul, and body for many. It is a privilege to hold space for others in this way and to continue tradition for soul restoration at Lake Junaluska.
Her is Our Blessing:
We honor the ancient wisdom of the Cherokee people, the original inhabitants of this land. Chief Junaluska, a Cherokee leader who played a pivotal and vital role in history, lends his name to this lake. We acknowledge the deep reverence the Cherokee people had for the land, we thank them, and we seek their blessings for our time here.
Lake Junaluska's roots in the Methodist tradition run deep. The first assembly in 1913 was a gathering of Methodist leaders and faithful followers seeking spiritual renewal. This connection remains strong, and we honor the Methodist heritage among our ecumanical group and give thanks for for all who have and will come here, United Methodist and beyond. May the spirit of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, continue to inspire all who come here to seek a deeper connection with their faith and a commitment to making the world a better place.
We acknowledge the importance of family and tradition as generations of families have made Lake Junaluska their place of retreat. May the bonds of faith and fellowship grow stronger with each passing year, and may this place continue to be a source of spiritual growth and inspiration.
In this sacred moment, we offer our gratitude to the land, the water, and the spirits of both the Cherokee people and the Methodist tradition. May their combined blessings infuse our hearts and minds, guiding us on our journey of inner and outer exploration, no matter our roots.
May the energy and serenity of Lake Junaluska, steeped in the history of the Cherokee people, be a beacon of light and hope for all who come here, ourselves included. Let this land continue to be a source of inspiration, healing, and transformation for our time and for generations to come.
Blessed be the Cherokee people and the land of Lake Junaluska, a place where history, spirituality, and tradition converge, and may it forever be a sanctuary of peace, worship, and renewal for our body, minds, and spirits, with all thanks to our Creator.
, Thanks to the support of my spiritual director, I've found great help in understanding myself as one who identifies as an Enneagram Four. The Enneagram is a fantastic tool for self-discovery and has helped me claim and lean into my type. We are known as the "Individualist" or the "Romantic," and are characterized by our deep emotions, introspection, and desire for authenticity.
If you have not already guessed, we Fours thrive on creativity and emotional depth (which I believe makes for a great writer and spiritual director). However, the journey can sometimes feel lonely, and it is indeed challenging at times. On Sunday at worship, a friend asked me how I keep my creative juices flowing for the podcast, books, and other teachings. I told her I could not help it! My brain overflows with creative juices and ideas - more than I can manage. This exchange was after I had written about 10,000 of the 35,000 words for my next manuscript. My fingers cannot always move fast enough to capture everything in my mind. I have paused at 10,000 words because I need time to process and embody what I have written and ponder with God what will be written next.
This got me thinking; I could share tips to help others lean into their creative sides. So here are some tips offering inspiration for your creative inspiration:
As Enneagram Fours, we find solace in solitude. Quiet time is when our creativity can flourish. Get away, take a retreat, or create a dedicated space for yourself at home, whether it's a cozy corner of your bedroom or a spot in your backyard. Allow yourself regular introspection, contemplation, and times of self-reflection, as these moments often ignite the spark of inspiration! Prioritizing solitude is a must if you want to foster your creativity. I'm an extroverted contemplative Four, so this complicates matters! The hardest part is breaking away, befriending myself, and calming my mind, but it is worth it!
Seek Inspiration Everywhere:
Look beyond conventional sources for inspiration. Explore various art forms, music, books, and movies that both challenge you and resonate with your emotions. Engage with diverse cultures, explore nature, and immerse yourself in experiences stimulating ALL your senses. Pick up a very different kind of book or play music from a playlist you have never heard. Take a hike and look for interesting things that capture your attention. Ignite your own creativity as you savor and enjoy the creativity of others and God's creation!
As Fours, our creativity stems from the depths of our emotions. We can often talk about deep things quickly with others. Vulnerability is a gateway to true authenticity, but it is not easy or natural and takes some practice. Allow yourself to be seen and heard, even if it sometimes feels uncomfortable. Express your thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way that works best for you, understanding that your unique perspective holds immense value.
Creativity often comes hand in hand with self-doubt. Hello, Imposter Syndrome! Be gentle with yourself during moments of uncertainty or creative blocks. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that these challenges are part of the creative process. They actually HELP with what is coming next so try not to fight the pause that comes with creative blocks. Treat yourself with kindness, celebrate small victories (like 10,000 words!), and allow for rest and rejuvenation.
Engage with Like-Minded Souls:
Though we may cherish solitude, connecting with like-minded individuals can provide invaluable support. Seek out creative communities, workshops, or online spaces where you can share your work and ideas. Engaging with other creatives who understand and appreciate your unique perspective can be an incredible source of inspiration and encouragement.
Move Your Body:
Engaging in physical activity, whether dancing, biking, practicing yoga, or walking, boosts your energy levels and promotes mental clarity. When active, your body increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, improving cognitive function and enhancing creativity. I firmly believe that movement (large or small) fuels creativity!
What inspires you on the creative journey? Write about it, think about it, or share it with us so we can be inspired too.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC