“…the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary.” -Mark Nepo, Awakening
We spend so much of our day going a thousand miles an hour, taking care of parents, commuting, meeting deadlines at work, putting food on the table, and driving the kids to all the places they need to be. We are spinning, trying to meet the needs of all those in our care, and to meet all our obligations, imposed and self-imposed. What few minutes we may have to ourselves are too often spent reliving the day, both past haunts and future concerns. We hear the constant, relentless chatter of our overstretched existence. Like Sisyphus, compelled to complete his task, and draining his energies in fruitless effort, it’s too easy for us, too, to expend our life-energy in repeated patterns of thought and behaviour that don’t result in real progress or satisfaction.
Time to stop. Time to take the time to simply breathe, to be still, to embrace quiet. To be alone. To tune into the other reality that sits and waits with patience for us to notice, to hear, to simply be. For me, that means losing myself in the wilderness to strip away the trappings of everyday human baggage, to turn off the incessant humming of overactive thought and the traffic of my life. When I do that, I embrace Buechner’s advice: “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” (Frederick Buechner, Listening to your Life). When I stop and embrace the present moment to its fullest, my senses are undeniably heightened. I see unparalleled, aching beauty in the way the light reflects in the clouds. I smell the crisp dustiness of the snow. I hear the conversation the wind is having with the last remaining leaves on the bare trees. I tentatively touch infinity. And in these moments, time stands blissfully still, and I feel grounded to the present, the here and now, while all else simply fades away. I feel connected to the divinity in creation around me, and breathe in agreement with Thomas Merton’s discovery, that “Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.”
In the day-to-day activity, as much as in the time I need to take to be still, I resolve to see the divine shine through it all, all the time.
…I stand in awe,
in simple acceptance
of the beauty you created,
made to reflect your own
dense layers of loveliness.
You uncover your face like this,
simply to show us
– to tell us –
to help us understand,
with your eyes,
and your heart,
the depth of your own
for all things lovingly crafted;
and to show us your hope-apparent
that through your handiwork
we will also see
our own loveliness,
a reflection of the divine within.
And for this proffered gift,
we give such profound
We are standing on holy ground.
© cdvenema 2016
Carolyn Venema is an educator and caregiver, mom to two teens, and spiritual newbie. When not working, she spends her time capturing and sharing the ways in which the divine speaks to her. She thrives in outdoor settings and past-times like cross-country skiing, gardening, hiking, and camping. She nurtures relationships and values the connections she makes on social media and in real-life. She dabbles in photography, in writing, in music, and in the arts.