Sunday, September 21, 2014

“the dearest freshness deep down things” {September thoughts on listening}

{Stay tuned for a back post of August's thoughts on my One Word for 2014: listen. 
Now for a few thoughts from September...}

There is a deep quietness slowly growing in me.  I feel like  a field with a spring of water which has been clogged for years.  The leaves and bracken are slowly being cleared away, handful by handful, and the spring is beginning to well up with clear, fresh water.  

“There lives the dearest freshness deep down things”…

I am seeing more.  

It feels like entering the cool dimness of a great cathedral from a bright summer afternoon.  Slowly, gradually, as my eyes adjust, I am able to take in more and more details of the beautiful interior.

There is so much more to see than I have been aware.

The more my spirit sinks roots down into this quietness, the deeper I want to sink.  It is unspeakably refreshing.  To sit for a few minutes noticing the color of sky, the sound of birds, the curve of my daughter’s cheek.  To reach out to these things with my spirit and know them to be windows, passageways into God’s presence.  To sense Him here with me, close as breath.  This new seeing is a freshly discovered green pasture for my soul.

It’s this new awareness that causes my soul to well up in thankfulness.  I’ve realized, after trying lists and other tools to grow a thankful heart, that I can’t cultivate thankfulness until I first cultivate seeing and listening.  Awakening my senses, remembering I have them, using them to deeply pay attention… Now I can see what I have to be thankful for.  

The seeing itself begets thankfulness without effort.  

I see, and I become deeply grateful.  I hear my daughter’s sweet lips smacking sour grapes with two-year-old delicacy and I am flooded with awareness of her sweetness, and then gratitude that I am aware.  I catch her eye and grin, electricity flashes between us, and my awareness of relationship increases my pleasure in her, and my gratitude grows.  She grins back, blue eyes sparkling, round cheeks pushing up in folds under her eyes, golden bangs brushing her eyebrows.  

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
Every common bush afire with God, 
But only those who see take off their shoes;  
The rest just sit round and pluck blackberries.”   

I still pick a lot of blackberries.  Today is Sunday, a day in which I've started practicing rest and contemplation, and my senses are heightened today while I write this post, which is why I’m aware of the well of freshness springing up enough to write about it.  But when I’m the thick of the week and the moments fly past too quick to grab and I’m changing poopy diapers, making lunch and dinner, welcoming unexpected visitors, and handling requests, phone calls and emails, blackberry picking seems all I can manage.  It takes a tremendous effort of will (and a well-rested body) to remember to see, and take off my shoes for the holiness of it all.  

I mostly plow through unnoticing.

You know, I’ve spent 30 years running and striving, habitually moving too fast to notice holiness.  So I have to keep reminding myself, You’ve only just begun.  I’ve only just started these practices of Sabbath rest and deep, attentive listening.  As I live into the next 30 years of my life and beyond, I’m hoping these practices will continue to bear this delicious fruit of the awareness of “the dearest freshness deep down things” in my everyday moment-by-moment living.  

If I can’t learn to see and feel the holy in my every day, the days of my life will pass and I won’t have spent them aware of God.  Wouldn’t that be an unbearable tragedy?

Because, like a thunderbolt, the realization strikes: we are practicing now for eternity.  What else will we do for all the ages except to notice and delight in the holiness of God, in all its myriad beauties and multi-faceted excellencies?   Forever, we'll delight in Him.  We'll notice and bathe in His holiness.  We'll fall deeper into Him, revel in our intimacy with Him, enjoy the exquisite privilege of curling up in the lap of the Lord of the universe.  

Why not start now?


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