Tag Archives: stress

The Three “R’s”

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Not the ones we learned in grade school…

The world is filled with turmoil.  Sickness, discord, violence and tragedy fill the nightly news.  Just this week a gunman opened fire on a huge group of concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the depravity, sickness, hatred and evil that could cause a human being to inflict such violence on a crowd of innocent strangers.

I am not a political person and this is not a political post.  This is just a collection of my thoughts about how very tired I am…tired of the anger and violence that bombard us all with increasing, and alarming, frequency these days.  I need some R&R…& more R.

“R&R” is an old expression for “Rest & Relaxation”.  We ALL need those things from time to time, especially nowadays, in this world where we are constantly overloaded with noise, lights, motion and nonstop stimulation.  It is easy to become burnt-out, frazzled and fried, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Rest and relaxation sound wonderful, but they can be difficult to achieve.

For me, this is where the third “R” comes in…RETREAT.  In order to achieve rest and relaxation, sometimes we need to RETREAT from our normal surroundings, even if it is only for a few days, or hours.  Even 15 or 20 minutes to change our scenery during a hectic, stressful day can be a lifesaver.

I’ve always been a big believer in the benefits of aromatherapy and how pleasant scents can make us feel better.  The right fragrance can calm or energize us, improving our moods and bringing us back to center.  Candles, potpourri, incense and the comforting aromas of favorite foods cooking can all provide a sense of retreat from the stress of the world outside, facilitating the ability to rest and relax.

Recently I have been lighting candles again, a small indulgence I have always enjoyed but in recent years have neglected.  The mesmerizing glow of a candle’s flame, and the peaceful scent that lingers even after the candle is extinguished, change my environment…and thus, change me.  I can focus my eyes, my breathing, and my heart and mind, on that flame and that fragrance.  I can retreat to a place that relaxes me.  And I can rest.  And after that, I can go back out into my world and do what needs doing.  I can be who and what I need to be, both for myself and for the people around me.

It’s a small thing, really…but it is also huge.  Especially in a world that depletes, attacks and bombards us with so much sadness, noise and frenetic activity, we need to find ways to rest, relax..and retreat.

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“Rest and self-care are so important.  When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow.  You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”—Eleanor Brown

 

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Make Me An Instrument

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Hearing and seeing the beauty around us…

“The Week” has begun.  Every year the Knoxville Choral Society teams up with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and various other music/dance ensembles for a series of holiday concerts, and this is “The Week”.  It is a week of rehearsals, final tweaking of the program and last-minute polishing of our weekend musical offerings to the community.  It is always a feast for both eyes and ears, a spectacle of movement, color and sound.

I will admit that I find “The Week” to be a mixed bag of excitement and fatigue.  Ultimately, though, there is a sense of wonderment that so many musicians, conductors, singers, dancers, sound technicians, lighting designers and costumers have all joined forces to make this concert series come together.  Numerous composers and arrangers are represented in each year’s program, and I am always especially impressed at their creative gifts, both in arranging existing music in new ways and in conjuring altogether original compositions.

At last night’s rehearsal I took a few moments to really look at some of the instruments so expertly played by our orchestra friends.  I’ve been around instruments my whole life and it’s easy to take their beauty for granted.  So it is with anything—or anyone—we have become accustomed to.  Looking at these familiar instruments through my camera’s lens brought me a fresh appreciation for their beauty, both in the craftsmanship with which they were fashioned and in the sounds they make in the hands of a skilled player.

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Such intricacy of design and workmanship!  And the marks of use and love worn into them over years, often decades, of playing and working, make each one unique unto itself and bear witness to a life of faithful musical service for both the instrument and the one who plays it.

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The paradox is that even the most expensive instrument is silent until someone plays it, and if it is not played well, all its expensive materials and workmanship don’t amount to much.  By the same token, a skilled and caring musician can take an average, or even poor, instrument and make glorious, beautiful sound pour forth from it.  It is all in the hands and heart of the player.

We have all heard and/or read the famous Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:  “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace…”  Especially now at Christmas, which is joyful but also very difficult for a lot of us, for a variety of reasons, I pray to be an instrument of peace in the lives of those I love.  Where there is hatred, let me show love.  Where there is injury, pardon.  Where there is pain, healing.  Where there is stress, calm.  In the noise and clamor and chaos of this world, Lord, make me an instrument of peace in Your masterful hands, bringing serene harmony into the lives of those around me.

Lord, make me an instrument.

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