The song, Rest, came out of an experience in 2006.

I experienced a situation where I knew much desolation. I can’t remember what happened, but I do remember being extremely frustrated and desolate. I remember feeling discombobulated. That was the word. Discombobulated.

Out of control. A mess. Disoriented. Fragile.

I reached out to a friend.

Help me.

And this friend spoke one word to me. And that word was ‘rest’.

Rest?

My primal reaction to this person was to punch them in the face. (I didn’t!) I was so angry! Not only did I not receive the sympathy I was looking for, I was told to do something so contrary to what I was feeling.

However, I had become accustomed to an awareness that the ‘whisper’ was close to me if I would pay attention. And even though it agitated me, I knew that this word ‘rest’ was an invitation from the Beautiful Presence more than it was a command from my friend.

I went to my room.

I lay down on my bed.

And as I lay, I experienced a most profound vision that I remember powerfully to this day.

I saw that I was a wee baby bird in a nest. And this nest was high in a tree in a forest with other trees. But I couldn’t see any other birds. I felt so ALONE and ABANDONED.

A little baby bird all alone in the forest!

My little bird self began to flap her wings and squeak with all her might:

“MAMA!!!

MAMA!!!

WHERE ARE YOU????

I NEED YOU!!!

Why have you left me alone????

MAMA!!!

MAMA!!!

Come back to me!!!”

I flapped my wings.

I squawked with all my might.

I was angry.

I was scared.

I was alone.

I was distressed.

“MAMA!!!

COME TO ME MAMA!!!”

Then in the distance I saw her coming.

Mama Bird was flying to me!

She came right up to me in the nest and settled herself in front of me.

I was mesmerized.

She placed a wing on my right cheek, and a wing on my left cheek.

And then said powerfully and with authority; “Look at me! LOOK at me!”

And I looked.

I looked and I was stunned.

I looked and looked.

I looked in those eyes and what I saw changed my life forever. I saw rest in the centre of those eyes. Deep, abiding rest…stillness…..well-being…like a clear lake that is utterly at peace….surrounded by circles of energizing laughter on the outer rims…vibrating with an energy of vivaciousness and delight.  These eyes held both the awareness of profound calm and sparkling life.   There was REST and JOY in those eyes.

I looked and looked.  I was aware of how my eyes felt.  Frantic.  Panicked.  Anxious. Distressed. Afraid.

The contrast between my eyes and the eyes I was beholding was mind-boggling.

Finally, she spoke.

And she said these words that I have never forgotten; “Look at me. Look at me until you become the reflection of me.”

Those eyes became an inspiration to me of the central qualities of Divine Love, the Beautiful Presence.

In those eyes was no fear, no weariness, no heaviness.

In those eyes was a stillness, a peace, and a quiet joy.

In those eyes there was no hurried agitation or competition.

In those eyes was a rootedness, a knowing, a radiant light, a profound laughter.

Those eyes have guided me many, many times since 2006. The album I first recorded was titled, ‘rest’ after this profound experience I had and was filled with many songs of meditation and reflection.  And I’ve had the joy of re-recording this song now on the new release; Remain in Love.

John O Donohue, the beloved Celtic poet & priest, writes in his book, Anam Cara, of the power of the gaze and how what one gazes upon enters into the soul of that person.

The mystery of the Mother Bird story continues to compel me into the gaze of Divine Love to this very day. When I am experiencing fear or anxiety and I take time to come back to those eyes, I have found that I drink from a well-spring that is much deeper than my human experience and that this gaze can guide me to a transformed response. Perhaps these eyes hold the essence of what the great mystic Julian of Norwich wrote, ‘All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”.

It was in February of 2014 when I was leading a retreat at the Westminster Abbey in Mission and bumped into a couple who was lost and looking for directions. I was happy to help them and show them around the monastery as best I could. At the end of our encounter together, the husband of the couple turned to me and said, ‘What is it about your eyes? They are sparkling with laughter. It is as if you know something.”

Later I went to my room and wept. Could it be that my soul in that moment was able to reflect a wee bit of the gaze I had been holding for so many years?

May my eyes behold the beauty of your radiant Love.

Rest

Are you tired? Overburdened?

Are you anxious about tomorrow?

Are you spinning ‘round in circles?

Lost your focus?

Lost your ground? 

Look at Me! Look at Me!

Rest your soul in my loving gaze

Rest your soul in my loving gaze

Rest your soul in my loving gaze…..Rest

For I’m not tired! Not overburdened!

And I’m not anxious about tomorrow.

I’m the still point at the centre

I’m your resting place this hour

Look at Me! Look at Me!

Rest your soul in my loving gaze

Rest your soul in my loving gaze

Rest your soul in my loving gaze…rest…rest……

My love surrounds you, rest in Me.

My love surrounds you.

Rest

Your face takes all the shadows out of me

Your face takes all the shadows out of me

Your face takes all the shadows out of me

Your face brings all the shadows out of me

And I’ll look at you

I will look at you

I’ll rest my soul in your loving gaze

I’ll rest my soul in your love

I’ll rest my soul in your loving gaze

I will rest, I will rest in You.

© 2006 Cathy AJ Hardy   As recorded on Remain in Love

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