Last night a fierce thunderstorm passed through the area and downed a huge branch off a tree right outside our bedroom window (see photo). The size of the damaged area leaves doubt as to whether the tree can be saved or if we will have to cut it down when removing the limb. I love trees, flowers, grass, spring, and summer, nature at its absolute best. It hurt my heart to see the beautiful tree, which is much older than I, with such a gaping wound.
I spent the week helping friends whose world, like the tree, has been torn apart. Two months ago everything seemed on track and then one of life’s damaging storms ravaged their lives and left them in doubt and afraid. They are looking at incredible odds against survival itself. They stand in the midst of what used to be their normalcy and are surrounded by debris, devastation, and the possibility of death.
Life is never predictable. It doesn’t have a reset button, can’t go back and fix things or jump forward to see how it ends. We weather the storms of life, pick up the pieces and pray for the strength, stamina, and the will to survive.
To Trust, To Share –
This afternoon I was in Lewisburg, Tennessee for a meeting. I arrived early along with several other people and we were sharing with each other big and small life events which have happened recently. There were several birthdays which happened in January, someone had gotten married, another person was recently engaged and other good news passed along to the group.
We know deep down that other people have lives we know nothing about. We understand that friends, acquaintances, even family members are experiencing things on the road of life that we may never know unless they choose to share.
Too often we are absorbed in our own worlds and forget about the countless worlds of others which surround us. Sometimes this focus on ourselves isn’t selfishness but survival. We are going through challenges, fighting battles and just trying to stay alive. Sometimes we are myopic and consumed with whatever is happening in our lives there’s not room for others.
Life is sharing, connecting, enjoying and struggling with those with whom we share the road of life. Good and bad, negative and positive or somewhere in between when we open our stories to others and they, in turn, trust us with theirs relationships happen.
On Saturday, Beth and I drove to the store to buy a few items for the long weekend. Returning home I noticed the gas gauge light had come on but wasn’t sure how far I had driven since its illumination. I made a mental note to get gas first thing Tuesday morning. Today, however, I forgot to stop by the fuel station as I drove to my first appointment. It was only several miles later I noticed the gas gauge again and felt my stomach drop. The indicator was on; “E” and there wasn’t a gas station anywhere close to my present location. My focus went from all the things which needed to be done today to that gauge. I knew I was running on fumes and was worried about being stranded on a Tennessee highway on an already hot Tuesday in September. My eyes darted from the road to the indicator and back again over and over. Finally, a gas station came into view and I pulled in to get gas and let out a huge sigh of relief!
After filling up and getting back on the road I reflected on the tense moments and how the worry and anxiety took over everything. Running on fumes is not enjoyable. When we’re depleted, at our wit’s end, have been used up and we’re not sure we going to make it much further, we have a difficult time seeing anything else. Our focus becomes survival not finding the meaning in every moment or the good with each person with whom we connect.
Being sure we are caring for ourselves and keeping our mental, emotional, and spiritual, tank full is vital for our lives and the ones with whom we share the road of life.
When we bought our old farm house/cottage last year it came with an old wooden bench. This metal framed piece of furniture is a weather worn looking antique with wood slats and not at all sturdy enough to sit upon.
Yesterday I moved the bench underneath a large beautiful tree on the side of our house. I then reinforced it with newer pieces of wood, screws and then tested it out by sitting on it. It held. “Whew!”
The sun had climbed high enough in the sky that the bench was shaded by the tree’s branches. A cool wind was blowing and I let out and took in several calming breaths. As I enjoyed doing nothing a hummingbird almost flew into me and landed on limb a few feet away. For a moment we were both still, taking in our surroundings, just being alive.
In that instant I saw myself in this beautiful frenetic creature. The last few weeks have been a blur of non-stop, meetings, speaking engagements, special events, celebrations, crises, physical ailments and more. Like that hummingbird I’ve been using a lot of energy to stay up, moving, just getting from place to place.
As I stared at my now resting, unhurried, feathered friend I was reminded that stillness of soul, mind and body isn’t just a good idea but necessary for survival and sanity.