Watching someone you love asleep is what I thought.~Barry Lopez (From Embrace Fearlessly The Burning World)
They sat in front of me in church. A mother held her sleeping child, a blond boy about three years old. His head rested on her shoulder. His mother gently patted his back, her lovely fingernails painted sky-blue. Watching them sharpened me with calm, as my week had felt more filed by dread and anxiety. I'd had a disappointing appointment with my dentist, and I'm a faithful flosser. Then sometimes I can also tend toward performance-based thinking. I am never enough in this mindset. There is always more to accomplish, more striving to be better, to learn more. This thinking is not my friend. Sometimes, too, I become overwhelmed by environmental detritus--the plastic bags floating on the surface of ponds, fast food boxes left in the park, cigarette butts in front of Target, broken electric gadgets sitting on curbs, candy wrappers blowing in the wind. I try to do my part and pick up the debris, yet the consuming culture gets me down. And surely I'm right there, too, in the consumption. When I looked at the little boy and his mother, I felt something shift in my thinking. "Go deeper, move toward the things you know help strengthen you so that you can be at peace to care for yourself and your world," I coached myself. "Move toward simplicity, movement, intimacy with God. Submerge yourself in nature. The joy of reading. The beauty of the Scriptures. Be honed by those things."
I go for a walk. It's a little cooler. A white egret stands regally at the edge of the pond. They rarely appear in this more populated area. I watch the bird for several minutes and let its beauty take hold. I sit down in my chair and read the book I quote from at the top of the post. The late Barry Lopez loved the earth and was honored for his environmental and humanitarian work. He writes, "We've become, it seems to me, a chronically distracted people, yearning to be relieved of the misgivings and anxiety we feel, thinking we no longer have time to go deep." His words enlivened me and provided incentive to keep caring for other people and our world. I read the Scriptures. Here are a few passages that may provide solace as you move through your own sphere of influence, your individual landscape.
Psalm 51:6 (The Passion Translation)
I know that you delight to set your truth deep in my spirit, so come into the hidden places of my heart and teach me wisdom.
Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough you bring to me.
For the source of your pleasure is not in my performance or the sacrifices I might offer you. The fountain of your pleasure is found in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before you. You will not despise my tenderness as I humbly bow at your feet.
By your power I will be safe and secure, peace will be my portion. God Himself will hear me. God-enthroned through everlasting ages, the God of unchanging faithfulness.
Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you.
By the end of the service, the little boy had climbed from his mother's lap, both arms lifted. Singing. Rested.