Yesterday my sister-in-law, Kristi, posted a note that described being outside under the night’s sky noticing the starry expanse, recognizing a constellation here, a cluster there. She was present, and knew it, and savored the timeless moments. Another sister-in-law, Rachel, shared a picture of her sweet Avery while taking a hike in Colorado’s hills, bird watching and sharing in each other’s presence, present to the beauty around them. I had two reactions: 1) they are powerful examples and reminder to notice – take time and notice; and 2) I am so jealous of their nearness to such landscape they get to enjoy being present to – I miss Colorado!
When we were young, my father would often take our family up into the mountains for a drive after church, just to get out of town a bit, take in the loveliness of landscape. Sometimes, also, we camped with other families; other times hiked around a lake. As I got older I would go up with friends to hike, or fish, or retreat. One time my brother and I just took off and stayed in a friend’s condo for the weekend, to enjoy the peace . . . and watch Monty Python movies. The mountains were a refuge for me – a giant, expansive panorama, sometimes terrifying the gradient, always reminding me of the grandness of creation. But I never felt alone, even when there was no one close by. Indeed, it is exactly there – where there are no distractions of schedule or responsibilities – that I know the presence of God most keen. There I am sure of the reality of this More-Than, this Beyond-All, this Ever-Present Love.
And I miss it. Chicago weather is different from Denver’s. But really, it is that my illness often makes it more difficult to weather (so to speak) the climate here. And I too easily forget that enjoying beauty, being present in a space that does not distract, is healing. So I am grateful to my sisters-in-law (and my niece!) for reminding me to just make that time and space. How much I need to be reminded of this even though it is the substance of everything I preach and teach! I suspect we all need to be reminded to make space for presence-being, since our culture is so wired in every sense of the word!
So as I notice that today is especially lovely – 60° and sunny – I breathe, and notice and am present. Will you join me?
Breathe in the fragrance of budding branches.
Breathe out the toxic stress from the past week.
Breathe in the air perfumed by newly blossomed flowers.
Breathe out and notice the worries being carried away
by the breeze