“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Dormouse in Search of a Teapot

I am currently at Unitarian Summer School at the Nightingale Centre, our conference centre in Great Hucklow, in the Derbyshire Peak District. I am spending a week in the company of forty or so fellow Unitarians - both old friends and new - and having a marvellous time. The workshop I am attending is both stimulating and spiritually nourishing, and the optional activities in the afternoons and evenings likewise.

Even the weather (never predictable in this part of the world) is cooperating, and has been warm and sunny. Who could ask for more?

Then, last night, after a substantial and delicious dinner, during which I had a really interesting conversation with some dear friends, the balance shifted.

I don't know whether I've been trying to cram too much into this summer (OK, I'm lying, I know fine well that I have) but it is as though somebody has flicked a switch inside me, and suddenly I become like the dormouse in Alice in Wonderland, tiredly in search of a teapot. I crave solitude and sleep and time to creep away and re-group.

The Dormouse (from the Disney film Alice in Wonderland)

The temptation at these large Unitarian events, such as Summer School and our General Assembly annual meetings, is to participate in everything, because it is all so fascinating, and stimulating and nourishing, and I don't want to miss out on anything, and I love spending time with my fellow Unitarians.

And yet I know that for my body's sake (and my soul's), I need to balance this craving with a bit of downtime - some periods alone, to think, to meditate, to pray, perhaps just to take a deep breath and relax. We are complex organisms, and need to pay attention when our bodies crave rest. The alternative is over-stimulation and eventual burnout.

So, like the dormouse, I said good-night, and went in search of my teapot.

1 comment:

  1. That is the beautiful paradox of being human, our nature as both a communal and individual animal. We need the excitement and fellowship of company, especially when that company shares our ideals and values, and yet we need our own down time, to assimilate and process what we have experienced and just to be still. May you derive the maximum benefit from your summer Unitarian activities.