Sustaining Your Life: Restored by BeautyMar 02, 2022
Blog by Gem Fadling
Many years ago I found myself creatively exhausted. We had just come through an intense season of content creation and I was spent.
At first I described my tiredness as being soul tired. However, I realized my soul was actually energized and hopeful. But I could not escape the fact that something inside of me was quite empty. The place from which I draw words to write or insights to speak was running dry.
Not surprisingly, Alan found himself in a similar place. We had both been in output mode for quite a while. As we were talking one day, we realized we were sharing a similar tiredness. The first thing we did was to look at the spaces in our calendar for replenishing and refilling ourselves. They were sparse, and we had let the idea of true Sabbath fall by the wayside.
Yes, we had been traveling throughout the previous few months, but none of it had been a true vacation. The kind where you don’t check email and you get lost in timelessness. We had been in beautiful locations…working. Evidently, our monthly solitude days were not enough to keep us from the level of tiredness we had reached.
So, we asked ourselves the question we ask other leaders: “What will it take to sustain the life you currently live?” That’s not to be confused with the unhelpful question, “What are you doing to prove you are a good Christian?” Rather, it’s the realistic, “What will it take to truly keep you full as you continue to pour out for others?”
We made a very different plan for the following year. One that offered space for true soul-filling, including a revived Sabbath practice, monthly unhurried days, and bona fide vacations.
Soon after this wake-up call, we traveled to Germany. We had been invited there to facilitate some training and retreat time for U.S. Navy chaplains and their associates, but prior to that we took a few days to simply enjoy the area. And the timing could not have been more perfect.
Oh, those three days of being blissfully unplugged! We were surrounded by beauty and were able to experience quite a few firsts. A few of the highlights include the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany, with a view of four countries; the Partnach Gorge, the sights and sounds of which took my breath away; quaint Bavarian architecture and cobblestone streets; and a horse-drawn carriage ride up to Neuschwanstein Castle, which was built by King Ludwig II and has one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life.
Beauty is a natural soul filler. I believe that now more than ever, as that creative place inside me began to fill. I was being revived in a most holy and majestic way. God speaks to us through his creation as a grace and a gift, and I received it willingly.
After our wonderful time with the chaplains, we returned home, and I began my mornings in a prayer book titled Celtic Treasure. The first seven days unpack the glory of the creation of the world. Here is an excerpt from day 2:
On the second day the storm kept stirring.
It was the wind of new beginnings.
God was saying, “Let there be a space for creation.”
And the wind carved out a hollow in the deep waters.
It was a cradle for life.
Above, beneath and on every side of it were the everlasting waters.
God saw that it was good.
It was a place for birth and abundance.
And there was evening and morning, creation’s second day. (From Genesis 1)
My jaw dropped as I witnessed my very life in this poetic take on Genesis 1. My creatively tired self was definitely in a place of “new beginnings” after encountering such beauty on our travels. Inside my own heart, God was indeed saying, “Let there be a space for creation.” He had carved out that creative space deep within me as we enjoyed the splendors of the earth—a gorge, mountains, fields, lakes, and rivers.
And God saw that it was good. I returned home in a state of rebirth and with a new sense of abundance, ready to engage the next season.
- How’s your creativity these days? Are you energized or sluggish? Are you serving from a place of fullness or is your cup nearing its last drop?
- If you are on the empty side, what will it take to sustain the life you live? What would be good to add? What would be good to lay down?
- Give yourself permission to enjoy some beauty this week, even if it is just a few minutes. Notice what happens as you take it in. And meet God there.
Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash