A passion for rest

I’m passionate about rest.

It’s also the one thing I struggle with above all others, and which I many times despair of ever ‘achieving’ in my life.

But that’s the trouble with rest.

How do you ‘achieve’ something that is all about slowing down? Doing less. Trusting. Being patient and quiet. Listening. Being at peace.

The very effort of resting seems to negate the whole point of rest. And how can I be passionate about something that is a constant struggle in my life?

I remember a point in my life where this was made very obvious to me.

I was at a photography workshop in Italy which for several years I had planned and saved to attend. It cost a lot of money, which I had saved and scrimped here and there and everywhere to be able to use in this way. But it was something I was really excited about, and looking forward to with great anticipation.

At the same time, I was building up two businesses – a marketing business and my photography business. I was shooting weddings all over the world and working more than full-time. I had no spare time to speak of – literally, none. And I also have an illness known as chronic fatigue, or M.E. (whose very existence is due in part to overwork and under-rest).

On my way to Italy, I combined several trips into one. A trip to London for work, then a weekend trip to Cambridge to see a friend, then a flight to Italy and hiring a car and driving to my destination.

When I arrived in Italy I was exhausted, frustrated, and getting very sick.

The first night we all sat around an old wooden table with glasses of red wine and fresh bruschetta and dripping candles and hundred-year-old traditions, and talked about why we had come, and what we were passionate about.

Rest was the first thing that came to mind, so I shared that. I may have said a few other things, but that’s all I remember saying.

I remember it most of all because of what the workshop leader said to me several days later.

My exhaustion only increased over the next few days. I was sick all night long, and got no sleep. I was exhausted, broken, sad and hurting. I started looking at flights to go home, because there was no point being in this beautiful place when I couldn’t enjoy or appreciate it.

By the time I had my one-on-one meeting with the workshop leader, I was in floods of tears and I couldn’t even think straight.

He was gracious, and Godly, and loving – but he was very direct. He said a variety of things, but the one thing I remember with perfect clarity is:

“You say you’re passionate about rest, but that’s not evident in your life.”

Bam. Caught out.

I had my eyes opened to the fact that saying you’re passionate about something is negated by not truly being passionate about it.

The turning point (again)

That workshop was a true turning point in my life. Usually turning points are hard to see – they are slow and gradual and we’re well along a different road before we know it – but this one woke me up with a shock. I remember lying on the cold Italian tiles of the bathroom floor thinking, “If I don’t fix this, it could kill me. I could end up in hospital – or dead – because of the choices I’m making in my life.”

It didn’t happen overnight – even the obvious turning points take time to shift when there are so many factors involved. I had six or seven weddings which in my zeal I had over-booked, and I had to finish those. I had to decide if I poured my efforts into either my marketing business or my photography business, because I couldn’t do both. And I needed to begin to rebuild my health.

But slowly, like a huge ship turning around within turbulent waters, it did happen. I said “no” more often. I slept more. I ate better. I went to counselling. I took a twelve month break from weddings and photography work.

And for a little while – a very little while – I was working and resting and in a better place.

And then it all happened again.

Overwork, poor health, exhaustion, frustration, tears. This time it was my minister who spoke very kindly and directly to me, and pointed out that although I was present – physically – at church activities, I wasn’t truly present. He was concerned for me that work was taking over, that all my energies were being channelled into that one area.

I was so discouraged I can’t even tell you how much. Partly because I hadn’t seen this coming, partly because of a whole variety of legitimate, difficult factors in my life that were affecting my thinking, and mostly because I thought, “I’m not passionate about rest again.”

And I despaired of being able to write the book on rest that I wanted to, because I would never truly be at rest.

But this time the turnaround was not quite as drawn out. I didn’t have quite so many things to cancel, and it was easier to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right ones. I didn’t become at rest and at peace in a matter of days, but the process was a far cry from the Italy recuperation phase.

This process will happen over and over in my life, and in yours.

Just because you have one turning point doesn’t mean you won’t have another one. And another. And another of a different kind.

Rest that we don’t understand

I am beginning to accept that yes, I am passionate about rest. I always will be. I have seen my deep need for it, and I see it in the lives of every person I connect with all over the globe.

We’re overworked, exhausted, worn out, weary, struggling, tired – and at times there seems to be no hope in sight. Although we want to want rest, we are ill-equipped to practice it, or we don’t practice it, or we don’t even understand how it is possible.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the deepest desires, and needs, of our lives.

I’m also accepting that I’ll need multiple turning points, and will continue to strive for rest (and, some days, collapse in exhaustion). But I’ll still press on.

Because rest goes hand-in-hand with hope.

Rest takes its root in the person of Jesus Christ, who in Himself is hope. It’s not that He brings hope or stirs it up or gives it out like a gift – He, Himself, is hope. Is rest. Is peace.

Without Jesus, you can never experience true rest.

With His help, you can and will have rest in the midst of this turbulent life that is always swirling about you. It is not something to be strived for – but it is, absolutely, something to be passionate about.

But what is rest? And how do you get it?

More to come, my friends.

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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon