“It’s a deep joy that comes from making intentional choices about how we’re going to live our lives despite our circumstances. Despite the darkness of our circumstances, joy does come in the morning.” – Laura Story, When God Doesn’t Fix It: Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn, Truths You Can’t Live Without
One of my favorite musicians whose music speaks honestly and authentically to the heart and spirit is Laura Story. Her song Blessings shifts my narrow view every time. One line that stands out – “what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.” I am finishing her book on the many trials in her life and one concept hit the mark – “joy that contradicts circumstances.”
It’s easy to be upbeat and happy in the good times. It contradicts all we think we know doing the same when we are amidst the trials we all have. We should be downtrodden, we have reason, we have cause. But when we allow God’s joy to enter our hearts, it simply transcends all reason and is filled with contradictions. It’s simply unreasonable and unfathomable. And that’s why God doesn’t make sense and is the only thing that makes any sense at the same time.
Be unreasonable and radical. Choose joy that contradicts circumstances. Joy blooms every morning, breath the beauty in, accept joy.
“In contradiction and paradox, you can find truth.” – Denis Villeneuve
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michelangelo
“A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it.” – Michelangelo
The clean edges, the grace of form, the transformation to a work of art comes with time, patience and effort. And the statute is never really done. What life are you sculpting for yourself? What is shaping you and what are you shaping in return? Shaping or chasing?
We want to know the ending before we begin. But that’s not how life works. And when we forego the mystery of the journey, we miss the heartbeat of life, the beauty of it really. Open up and let life in. Trust that you are where you need to be and immerse yourself in each moment. The task of the sculptor is to discover it.
“Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.” – Randy Pausch
“I am going to keep having fun every day I have left, because there is no other way of life. You just have to decide whether you are a Tigger or an Eeyore.” – Randy Pausch
Today, and each day going forward, have fun, no matter what’s going on. There will never be a time in life when there are not challenges woven through the victories. Create your little wins by having fun.
Don’t wait for a loved one to die or a health diagnosis to learn that life is so very short. Give more and receive all there is right now in this moment. Be grateful for the gift of this day and put some bounce in your step – choose Tigger.
“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott
Walking after the much-needed rain, I thanked God for a good weekend, more accurately for the grace to notice that it was a good one. We pray for what we think we need or lack rather than being grateful for what we already have. Grace brings discernment. We suddenly become astutely aware of what’s authentic and what we already have present in our life in this very moment.
When the clanging noise of the world tells us we need more and we are not enough, we are quietly held as God waits patiently for us to take notice. Give way to awe and praise for what already is.
“My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear.” – Anne Lamott
“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” – Augustus Hare
“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
There is so much energy surrounding us each moment to receive and give. And when we find it and adjust the sail to work with it, we harness the wind and our sails take flight. Potential is attained.
Too much time is flittered away in worry, struggle and fear. Open your sails into the wind and let delight, gratitude and joy take you away. Witness your world transforming before you.
We have what we need for right now. Harness the wind. Take flight.
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran
With rapt attention, Abby watches for the bounce of the ball so she can catch it on one bounce. The sheer joy that a tennis ball can bring. And when she catches it on one bounce, she’s captured the world in that very instance.
Every single day, she carries the same carefree feeling that summer and Fridays bring – delight. It’s there for each of us too if we would let our guard down and put the brakes on the race car of busyness, jamming one more thing into the day. For what exactly? Mediocrity. Efficiency. Quantity over quality. It’s never enough and it never will be.
Slow. Breathe. Play. Laugh. Forget. Give. Surrender to life. Chase the ball.
“Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time — surrendered to life.” – Eckhart Tolle
“It is a great art to saunter.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Every day brings new choices.” – Martha Beck
It was hot today so Abby and I sauntered once around Como Lake. In our sauntering, we came upon the same bunch of flowers we that we run past again and again. This time, they jumped up and down in brilliant deep purple calling us to stop and take it all in.
Familiarity brings comfort and ease, a feeling of being home. We often take for granted that which is most familiar, seeing past what’s right in front of us in hot pursuit of whatever we so frantically chasing.
Spend some time, each and every day, sauntering more. You never know what will jump out to embrace you and pull you deep into gratitude and delight.
“Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.” – John Muir
Reflection and remembering are the stepping stones on the path of gratitude and awe. A simple walk in the woods can transform our minds and surface our spirit. Rather than busily moving through time we become immersed in it, unaware of the clock and deep in the moment.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
In quiet repose, we move from reaction and positioning to creation and mere being. Amidst the waving trees, in the rhythm of the stream, in the heart of the meadow, we are called to enter and join the sweet harmony of nature. Eternal youth flows uninhibited and free for the taking.
“It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.” – B.C. Forbes
I’ve had two fifty year old trees fall and have to be cut down in my yard in the past 10 years. After clearing them, I immediately planted new trees, knowing that it wouldn’t be in my lifetime that I would see the same beauty and shade that those wise old trees had given.
As I looked out my window tonight on the pink sky with soft rain falling, I saw the outline of that little tree that was planted not so long ago and how far that it had come. It’s offering its own beauty and shade.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
When it comes down to it, we can hold to the past and long for what was, not moving forward or we can plant new seeds and anticipate new bounty and beauty for us to be nourished by.
Plant seeds each and every day and let time do its work. Suddenly, you’ll look up and there will be a lush tree where there was once seemingly barren ground.
“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” – Rabindranath Tagore
There are many steps between starting and finishing. Starting is always the first step, so get to it. The secret to finishing is to keep going, moving through the stops, detours and falls. Our plans, the maps we draw out with great precision, so often don’t work out exactly as designed. Go where you are being drawn to and let go of the map when necessary. We so often are found amidst being lost.
So if your “plans” don’t seem to be working out and the finish seems far off, you are where you need to be in this moment. And you are closer than you think so keep going. There are not a lot of straight, short roads from start to finish on what’s most fulfilling.
The formula: start, stop, detour, lost, found, start again, finish. Most importantly, enjoy the journey, it’s a short one to be sure.