Rest – A simple lesson from Nature

What a year it has been?

Are you an always ‘on the go’ type person, who never seems to rest? When something is finished, do you move on to the next new thing quickly without stopping? Is life for you one long endless list of things to do? Well maybe this lesson, meditation, is for you.

We do seem to live in a society that is ‘go, go, go’ We are constantly under pressure to achieve, both externally and internally. I know for me this is how I am. I always seem to have an endless to-do list and what I do do is never enough. One late autumn, I noticed something and began to learn a lesson. Perhaps I can share it with you? But please understand I am still learning.

During this particular Autumn, I was a surprise by quickly the land seemed empty. Just a few short weeks earlier, the trees had been full of colour and Autumn had been at its height. After a beautiful ticker-tape parade of falling leaves, Autumn’s riotous colours were gone and there was nothing left but bare branches. I mulled over this transformation and the symmetry between the arrival of both Spring and Winter and what I needed to learn.

The Symmetry of Seasonal Change

The symmetry that exists between the coming of spring, and the arrival of winter is heralded by the activity of trees. Let me explain.

In spring, the emergence of vibrant, green buds hints to the promise of long, hot days and is followed quickly by an explosion of life as summer approaches. Spring is excitement. Spring is about new things bursting forth. Spring is about activity. In contrast, at the end of Autumn, the colour rich crescendo of orange, red and gold heralds a sudden baroness, as the trees put on their winter austerity. Autumn is about celebration, but also endings. Autumn is about slowing down and preparing to rest.

I wondered why I had never noticed this before. Perhaps in the past, my attention was captivated more by the arrival of longer days and the extra freedom to be outside. Then, perhaps, as the days drew in and the cold arrived, my motivation for going outside waned slightly and I didn’t see the pattern of transformation repeat and also, perhaps, the lesson in the arrival of winter is more challenging.

Rest and Seasonal Change

In No Rush

I am in no rush to circle the sun.

The seasons come and have their fun.

The day and the night glide quietly by

Across a dynamic, changing sky.

The shadows lengthen as the day grows long,

While the air chills once the night becomes strong.

The rhythm is simple and easily found

If one stops, takes time to look around.

Hear no ticking clock, nor frenzied command,

To perform and jump to every demand.

Just the gentle beat of nature’s heart

Seeking to make its eternal mark.

The lesson in Seasonal Change

I question if many of us are living lives that are constantly in spring? We seek the excitement of new things. We are always active and always producing something, but are in danger of reaching burn out. Constant productivity is unsustainable. If we look at a tree’s seasonal cycle, the change from Autumn to Winter shows us that we have to rest and not only that, we have to prepare to rest. You see, Autumn is the tree’s preparation for rest, while Winter is its resting time and Spring is the acceleration of activity ready for full production during the Summer. That is quite an exciting pattern to follow within our own lives, don’t you think? We can take the time to rest in the knowledge that this is vital preparation for a time of production.

I also wonder if it is hard to face the apparent exposure that rest brings because inactivity, in whatever form that takes for our lives, brings us face to face with ourselves. Think about the very different view we have of a tree in winter compared to summer. There are no lush green leaves to cover up the form of the tree and all is laid bare – knots, holes, miss-shapen branches broken by a previous year’s storms, and those that are dead and decaying. It is hard to face the reality of who we are, but this need not be negative. We are who, we are. The broken parts signal that you weathered the storm and the decaying parts that you lived.

The application of learning

Rest, preparation and production are part of a natural cycle and we live more fully if we work in harmony with that cycle. Rest should not be seen as simply doing nothing. Rest is a vital time to reflect clearly who we are and how much we have lived.


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