Chirp and Chatter –
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the front steps to our shed waiting for Beth to come home from work. Me and the dog enjoying the day when a bird overhead began to chirp loudly! It wasn’t the usual chirp and it was incessant. I looked to the limbs of our big Oak tree trying to find it. I couldn’t. The chirping didn’t stop but I couldn’t find it among the leaves. Finally, it stopped and only when it flew away could I see that it was a large woodpecker.
After watching this beautiful bird fly away I reflected on the constant chirping and not knowing where it was coming from. Some thought are like that in our minds. They chirp and chatter and we wonder, why and for what reason, they are filling our minds with noise. Perhaps its regret at an action, a question about why something is happening, puzzlement for a big decision which needs to be made, a betrayal, a hurtful word given or received, a reliving of past events, or worry about the future. Whatever the thoughts, the chirps, and the chatter can keep peace of mind and spirit elusive and unattainable.
Wisdom reminds us that thoughts are going to come and go but it is up to us not grab them and ruminate. A wise master once said; “I cannot stop the thoughts from coming to my door but I do not have to serve them tea.”
Earlier today I was weed whacking and mowing the grass. As I maneuvered around one of our smaller trees a movement caught my eye and I stopped to see a big black spider fleeing from the lawn mower. It paused for a moment and I had a choice to make; step on it or let it live.
A few weeks ago I suffered a bite from something that caused my hand to swell and turn partially red with splotches. It occurred to me that perhaps it was a spider bite. As I stood there this morning I wondered the same thing. The spider didn’t move and finally, I began pushing the mower in the other direction. I had decided I wasn’t going to kill out of fear this spider, in the middle of the yard, might bite me.
After finishing the chore I sat down with some cold water and my mind drifted back to the spider but also to the way fear can impact us. When fear finds a place in us we can become angry, vengeful, and cruel. We begin to be suspicious of things we may not consider beautiful, acceptable, normal and wanted. We allow the fear to make decisions for us and use it as an excuse for deplorable thoughts, words, and deeds.
Fear runs rampant in our world today. We can’t read online magazines, news, opinion columns or watch the news, many shows without our fear factor being dialed up to the extreme. We are told those who think different, talk different act different, look different, from us are to be feared.
As a result, our world is lacking grace, kindness, and love. The choice is ours to make; live in fear or love like the fate of the world depends on it because it does.
The Obstacle is the Path –
This afternoon I made a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart to buy a few things. I knew exactly what I wanted, where it was located, picked up the items and headed for the checkout. I am one of those people who will walk down the length of the entire front of the store to see if I can find the shortest line possible.
However, today, a nice woman in a yellow vast spotted me looking and told me lanes 19 and 21 were open with no waiting. I made my way to the aforementioned lanes and both of them weren’t empty but had only a few people with a few items. I picked one and steered my cart behind the people in front of me. Almost as soon as I parked the buggy I knew I picked the wrong one. The cashier was chatty, the customers too and there was an issue with one of the payment cards they were trying to use. “Sigh.” I thought about leaving but didn’t have the energy to pick another aisle. It has been a busy morning with back to back sessions, email replies, calendar updates, phone calls and another meeting in half an hour.
As I stood there I thought to myself; “Maybe, this is what you need. A time to rest. A place to stop. Perhaps what you see as a burden is a beautiful gifted moment.” I breathed in a long breath and let it out. Soon it was my turn, checked out, got into the truck and made my meeting with plenty of time to spare. Lesson learned, again.
“The obstacle is the path.”
For the last few days, we have had a lot of rain. It’s remnants of Hurricane Harvey the horrendous storm which slammed into parts of Texas earlier this week leaving devastation in its wake. Most of the morning and afternoon I have listened to the rain fall on the tin roof of our porch. It’s a mesmerizing and relaxing melody. There is a wisdom proverb which says; “Some people feel the rain other simply get wet.” I am of the former variety. I feel rain, storms, overcast skies. There are times when a rainy day is nourishment to my soul. It’s like the water falling from the sky is landing on my parched spirit and bringing needed comfort and nourishment. In other seasons the overcast clouds and rain dampen my motivation and put me in a trance where I get nothing done.
“Without rain, the flower does not grow.”
Like the flowers, trees, bushes, and grass we need rain in our lives. We need times of growth and blossoming. However, too much rain, as Houston and other Texas areas dealing with Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, can drown, devastate, and destroy.
Rain, like life, can be beautiful and dangerous.
A few weeks ago I broke the wooden handle on my shovel. This week my wife bought me a new one. It’s a Kobalt and guaranteed “unbreakable“. I did bend it a little today uprooting a stubborn bush. So unbreakable? Perhaps. Un-bendable? Nope.
It was, still is, a gorgeous day outside. Tomorrow the heat and humidity are supposed to come sweeping in but we enjoyed the moment of this day by working way too hard. We’re both exhausted but it’s a good tired.
As I dug holes for bushes and trees, filled the back of the truck with dirt and planted some grass with my new shovel I thought about the digging we do in our lives. Stillness, mindfulness, reflection are basically the same discipline with its goal to remove anything that stifles the life within us.
Digging around isn’t easy on the outside or on the inside but it’s necessary if we are to make old things new, ugly stuff beautiful, and go deep enough that growth, life, is possible.
The last few weeks the winds of Fall have been blowing into our area chasing summer away. It’s warm today, summer still has some fight left, but it won’t be long until these days are but a memory. The wind has also begun blowing the dead leaves off of the trees. The yard, once green, is quickly turning brown; both the grass and the leaves falling on it.
I read a quote not long ago but cannot remember the author…
“There’s nothing like fall to teach us the beauty of letting go.”
In my life, there is a struggle happening when it comes to letting a few things go. The leaves remind me each day that sooner or later that which harms us, brings us pain, must be released. What’s interesting is that I’ve let go of these before but, like the seasons, they keep coming back around.
Inwardly, however, there is a stirring, a desire to let go, to not think of what tomorrow may bring but to be fully in the present, in the now, and today the results surround and show me how beautiful it can be to let go.
Life is never predictable.
I was talking with someone yesterday about having “blinders” on when it comes to certain people. Some folks we see in a mostly positive light. We emphasize the good, minimize the bad, expect the best and see their potential. For others it’s the opposite. We are blind to their goodness. They are viewed by us in a mostly negative way. We don’t expect the best, focus on their weaknesses, anticipate what and how badly they’ll mess up, hurt us and take advantage of our generosity.
Blinders often come from good relationships or broken ones. We put them on and rarely question if we see the whole picture as it pertains to certain people, cultures and our worldview.
The discipline of viewing life as blessed rather than cursed can be one of the hardest and most important wisdom lessons we learn and put into practice. This is true especially when our journey has been difficult and we’ve seen “more than our share” of heartache, pain and loss. To look for the good, the beautiful, the “miracle” of everyday life influences each breath and every moment.
Early this morning a truck backed onto our driveway and dumped a load of gravel into a carved out space next to our cabin/shed. We needed the rock to be in place before winter rains and snow turned the area into a pit of messy mud. Last week I ordered the delivery and had actually forgotten about it until I spied the truck while putting things in the Frontier I needed for my work day. It was a; “not really a surprise”…surprise!
Watching the gravel tumble out the bed of the oversize truck upon the ground I thought about life. Even though we know it can be hard, difficult and heart breaking, we’re often surprised when it dumps a load of grief and pain into the middle of our existence.
Tomorrow, I’m going to begin to spread the gravel, as evenly as I can, over the intended area and, hopefully, make a nice place for us to park. One of the greatest truths of wisdom is that it can take the burdens of life and make them into something beautiful and useful.