When We Take a Moment of Silence for Ourselves

 

I remember a few times throughout my life taking part in a moment of silence. It’s a tradition we’ve picked up in America, to stop and be still and quiet for a moment to honor the death of a friend or colleague, or to pray with others in a time of tragedy.

I remember when the Twin Towers fell, I was in middle school. That day, the air was heavy. It was thick, everyone was silent, teachers wondering how to explain what was happening, friends of mine worrying about their traveling parents. We were still, quiet, reflective, because we were looking horror in the eyes and wondering what could possibly come from it.

 


 

I’ve been working on my second book this week from the attic office of my home, and I notice when things are particularly quiet. I get a bit uncomfortable if it lasts too long.

I can handle moments of silence in honor of others, to hold space for their memories, to mourn or sit in the reality of great tragedies that happen in our country or in our neighborhoods and cities. But taking a moment of silence for myself? What does that even mean?

What would it mean for us to take a moment of silence so that we can take inventory, so that we can ground ourselves in the moment? What would it look like to remember yesterday, and to dream for tomorrow?

 


 

Many times when we talk about self-care, we quickly jump to conversations about shame, about selfishness, or about privilege.

The reality is, everyone, everyone needs to practice self-care in the best way they know how.

What if we imagined self-care to be the thing that gets us through the day, that actually leads us to each other? Stopping to take a breath, to remember who we are and where we are, isn’t a selfish endeavor.

When I began trauma therapy, I noticed how uncomfortable I am with the silence that falls sometimes between my therapist and me. Sitting in that room, sitting with the air, with our breathing, with our eye contact (or lack thereof) forces a reality that our souls are meant to be listened to, cared for.

Taking a moment of silence for ourselves produces space and room to be present with others, and that is one of the greatest gifts we can give someone else.

 


 

Maybe in that listening we recognize that indeed, we are mourning, we are looking deeply at our grief. Sometimes we need to stop and take a look at the parts of us that have died off; we need to remember and say goodbye.

We need a moment of silence to ask what's next, to believe that we walk a sacred path, ever unfolding.

We need a moment of silence to remember that we indeed are tethered to ourselves to one another.

The silence is a cocoon, and it leads us out, transformed.

The silence is an incubator, preparing us for growth.

To give the world the best of ourselves, we first have to listen to what our own inner voice is saying.

So let’s get silent, if only for a moment, to remember.

 


 

The greatest heroes of our day and the days that came before us are the ones who draw from a deep well. When we hear them speak, we are listening, because there’s something undeniable about the reality of their depth.

They have done the work of investing in moments of silence to listen to their own souls, and so they give us the gift of that outpouring.

It isn’t about being chosen to be great. It isn’t about being prepared, or suddenly called.

It’s about you and me, and it’s about us.

May our moments of silence lead us to ourselves, and may what we find there lead us to each other, a constant cycle never ending, a constant journey toward peace.

Iw, Amen.

 



 

 

Love Letter to the Lonely

We’ve created a world that says loneliness is our fault, mental illness is either a myth or a problem that we must suffer with or fix quietly, so we don’t disrupt the way of things.

But loneliness is not wrong.

Friend,

I’ve been thinking about you today. I’m thinking about all the ways we get things wrong on this earth, in this country.

I’m thinking about all the different forms oppression can take.

I’m thinking about the reality that we’ve created a social environment in the United States (and in other countries) that doesn’t lend grace and compassion well.

We criticize each other’s weakness. We berate one another’s stories and experiences.

I’m thinking about mental health and self-care. I’m thinking about the work of listening to the needs of the soul.


What does it mean to be lonely?

I’ve heard so many times the phrase “we are lonely, but not alone.”

But it’s okay to feel alone, right?

We’ve created a world that says loneliness is our fault, mental illness is either a myth or a problem that we must suffer with or fix quietly, so we don’t disrupt the way of things.

But loneliness is not wrong.

Depression, anxiety or any host of feelings are not sources of shame, though we shame one another for experiencing them.

We shame one another for going to therapy, for taking medications, for admitting that we are tired. We forget our humanity for a moment. We forget what it looks like to hold one another. We forget that self-care is not laziness.

And we forget that the voice of Love is everything.

And our work right now is to break the chains of shame for ourselves and for one another.


Friend, I want you to know that loneliness is not a sin or human flaw.

It also isn’t just a lie that we believe, because loneliness is real. We see it in ourselves and in others everyday, in every work environment, in every community, on every street corner.

So what if we thought of every space as an opportunity to commune?

What if our digital and physical spaces were considered sacred, just as everyone who inhabits them is sacred?

What if we live in such a way that even our online interactions create space without reducing one anther to labels of weakness or unworthiness?

What if we learn to tell ourselves that we are worthy of love?


Recently in a therapy session, I tried to explain the constant tension I walk as a woman who is Potawatomi and white, Christian but not colonized, American but also indigenous.

I feel like I am never fully one thing or another.

And while it’s lonely, the more I share my story, the more people I find who feel the same way, who are fractured, who are trying to find their footing in a world that doesn’t accept some part of who they are.

Then I remember something.

I remember the stories of Jesus, a man who seemed to be lonely a lot.

He went to quiet places. He had some close friends, but he still struggled.

“Will they ever understand?” he quietly prayed.

“Can this cup be taken away? I’m tired.”


Many of the world’s greatest leaders admit to loneliness. And in those spaces, a lot of soul care is required to remember what it means to be a leader, what it means to carry compassion and empathy as a model for others.

But what about us? What about our daily lives? What about those moments when we are too weary to do the work?

Friend, I want you to know that I’m not expecting anything from you, but to learn to love yourself and then work on the empathy and compassion that fuels you to love the world.

This is not strictly linear work, but cyclical, seasonal, an ebb and flow that doesn’t always make sense.


If you grew up in a religious or social environment that wanted rule following over love of self, you know that even as an adult it’s hard to unlearn those thought and heart patterns. I’m still working, and I bet you are, too.

But it’s possible. And it’s not selfish.

So we re-wire the way we think about ourselves. And over time, we re-wire the way we think of others.

But it doesn’t mean that loneliness isn’t a constant companion. It means that while loneliness is there with us, we are still called.

We still have important things to contribute to our communities, to our families, to the world. We still have good work to do, and that work is connected to resting in the faithfulness of this earth that we get to inhabit.

Maybe the trees can remind us that we are loved and valued.

Maybe the bird on the windowsill or the constant rising and falling tide can tell us that the world wants to continue her work because we are a part of it.

Maybe then, we’re not quite as lonely as we think.

Maybe creation meets us in our loneliness and whispers I'm still here, after all these years. And maybe the fact that we all feel loneliness in a spectrum of ways means that loneliness is universal.

Until then, I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re not so alone, after all, and neither am I.

All my love,

Kait 


Remember, your pain isn’t wrong or a weakness. If you’re lonely and need to talk to someone, there are people available to you.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Call 1-800-273-8255
For LGBTQ:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/lgbtq/
For Youth:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/youth/
For Loss Survivors:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/loss-survivors/
For the Native American community:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/native-americans/
For Veterans:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/veterans/
For Deaf/Hard of Hearing:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/for-deaf-hard-of-hearing/