Time to sit

by | Sep 7, 2013 | Uncategorized | 19 comments

 Bringing the retreat home: one way to do this is to take time to sit. The early morning light was so beautiful that I had to draw up a chair, and sit, and watch. I thought of the first poem I ever memorised at school:

What is this life if, full of care,
We take no time to stand and stare. . .

By sitting still I could enjoy the sculptural forms of the agave leaves, the twisting uplift of the cypress—

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

— and beyond it all, the flare of the flame tree, so bright against the dark foliage of the pohutukawa trees. Beyond it all, the sea is beckoning.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

When I take time to sit very still, with no expectations, something surprising often happens. On this day I felt a strong urge to clear my desk: beauty outside, beauty inside.
Aaah! Breathing space. After all, I’m dismantling the old busyness and creating space for something new to emerge. Now when I sit at my desk, I smile. Only those papers that I’m about to deal with are allowed on here now.

And when the evening light draped its golden caress over the garden, I drew up my chair again, and sat and watched. The jade plant turned to fire and called out to the flame tree beyond. As I listened in, I heard their secret song: ‘We are glowing, we are happy, life is full of wonder.’ And so it is.

A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
(Leisure, by William Henry Davies)


  1. Hotly Spiced

    So you’re back home. I do hope you can retain some of the stillness you experienced on the retreat. That’s a very beautiful poem and so very true xx

  2. AnneE

    What a lovely post, Juliet. I am trying to sit and stare like this here in my dear friends’ Berlin garden. Very restorative..

  3. juliet

    Anne, how nice to have you visit from Berlin! – and to think of you taking time to sit in the garden and find peace.

  4. juliet

    Charlie, good to see you. Bringing the retreat home is always a challenge, but so worthwhile. Thank you.

  5. Friko

    Thee is a fine art to sitting and staring (I prefer contemplating to staring)
    I am a master in the art. At any time, day or night, contemplating is my favourite occupation.

    I love your bank of agaves. They would never grow here to such spectacular dimensions.

  6. Ruth P

    It’s wonderful to read your latest post Juliet and to feel both the peacefulness and spaciousness that your choices are bringing into your days. I hope these qualities flow well into your coming week/s. Thinking of you.

  7. juliet

    * Friko, I agree. Contemplating is a much better word; probably harder to rhyme in a poem though! Nice to connect with a fellow contemplative. The agaves are a constant delight.

    * Ruth, it takes conscious awareness each day to foster spaciousness, but it certainly is delicious to experience.

    Thank you, Friko and Ruth, much appreciated.

  8. Penny O'Neill

    You inspire me to clear off my desk top, Juliet. I’ve papers everywhere. Off they go . . .

    I try to take some time each day to be still. Contemplative. I like Friko’s word. Your post is beautiful, with such a beautiful poem.

  9. juliet

    * Penny, it’s so easy to let those papers accumulate. After the chaos on the Cutoff I wish you some peaceful sitting and contemplating.
    Thank you.

  10. Marja

    A view which deserves to be noticed. So many treasures around us. The last photo is just magic

  11. juliet

    Marja, it was stunning when the evening light turned everything to fire. Yes, it’s so important to appreciate what is right before our eyes. Thank you for visiting.

  12. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – gosh how lovely to consider this .. especially for you as Spring and Summer are bursting forth … while we close down .. we have lovely rain ..and it’s wonderful to hear it gently falling – as we need some.

    Beautifully written post and one I need to remember …

    Cheers Hilary

  13. juliet

    Hilary, thank you for your comment, and enjoy that sound of the rain falling.

  14. Vicki Lane

    Thank you for sharing that wonderful poem–and the beautiful pictures! Sitting and staring is one of my favorite pastimes.

  15. juliet

    Vicki, glad you enjoyed the poem and pictures. Nice to connect with a fellow contemplative!

  16. Max

    what a lovely post juliet. it is a long time since i read that poem, and yet it sits very well with where i am at right now, trying to carve out just a little bit of peace to sit and stare each day. i ought to recite it like a mantra!

  17. juliet

    Hi Max, how nice that you know the poem too, and that you welcome being reminded of it. thank you.

  18. Anne Ruffell

    What a lovely restful post. I still remember the poem from school and have my copies of The Road Ahead in which the poem appeared and Fresh Fields, both marked 3A1. I have often thought of the poem when out with my camera. Life really is full of wonder.

  19. juliet

    Anne, how lovely that you know the poem from school also. It’s been drifting back into my mind for ages, so I was glad I could track it down and get all the words.
    thank you.


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