Monday, March 1, 2010

Mindful March Monday...

It is the start of a new week, and a new month. Hopefully the beginning of spring as well. This winter has seemed to drag on forever. I am tired of the cold. I am anxious to get outside, dig in the earth and be active again. I feel like I have been hibernating all winter and now it is time to live again.

This morning I stood at the back door and watched as the sun begin to peep over the rooftops and through the pines in the backyard. It is such beautiful thing. So natural that most of the time we take it for granted that the sun will rise. This morning I am trying to be more mindful of the day to day things that I often don't stop to pay attention to. Like the sound of Noah's footsteps coming down the stairs for the first time in the morning. He is so joyous. Happy to be awake and ready to explore the new day.

Even the little annoyances such as the guinea pig squealing for food each morning, and the dogs scratching to get out for the first time each day are things I want to remember and pay more attention to. These are all parts of my life, parts of the present. So quickly these things will be only memories for me to hold and a rifle through like old photos in a shoe box. Pulling out each one and trying to remember the details of who, where, what and when. If we aren't mindful of each day, then when we review our memories our minds will rebel and not allow us to bring each memory back with clarity.

The memories that I hold most dear are the ones that I was fully present in the moment. Some of those were times of sorrow or pain; such as recalling in precise detail every thing about the morning that I learned that Daren had been killed. I can call to mind the exact details as though it were yesterday. When it was actually seventeen years ago this month.

There are images that I recall when closing my eyes, as though looking at a photograph, because I was mindful and present in the moment. I will never forget the approach by plane into Seattle. Flying over the city, then banking and turning to go into a landing at the airport. I recall with clarity the details of flying out of Seattle and looking out the window of the plane as we flew around Mt. Rainer. The beauty was breathtaking...I took it all in. I was there, I didn't want it to end. I wanted to drink in the beauty until I was intoxicated by it.

I am by nature a very visual person. I find enjoyment in the simple act of viewing things of beauty. It isn't necessarily things that others would call beautiful. Although somethings are universal...many people find beauty in scenes of the ocean or mountain views. But there are other things, small things that I find beautiful. I can sit for long periods of time looking into my basket of seashells. Taking them out one by one, turning them over and over in my hand, feeling their texture.

I have a small bottle filled with white and green beach glass that I picked up at Lake Michigan. It sits by my kitchen sink. I often pick it up and look into the glass, sometimes taking out the pieces and holding them, feeling their smooth edges, know that only time caused such a thing. It wasn't an overnight process. Time and consistency brought about something of beauty out of brokenness. The water and sand working day after day polishing away the sharp edges. Wearing down the thickness of the glass. Rounding the jagged edges of the broken pieces.

It seems very poignant to me, standing in my kitchen in North Carolina, miles away from Chicago, maybe even many more miles from where the bottles originated. Something that as a whole piece someone considered trash and tossed aside mindlessly, now is considered a treasure to me. How it was broken and the smaller parts of the whole were cast into the water for who knows how long.

Now they are considered treasures to someone who herself has been broken and tossed on the sea of life. Realizing that everything that life has brought my way is something ordained by God who is trying to make something useful of me. Each blow was designed to soften my rough edges, to remove the jagged, sharp corners so that they can no longer injure. I see my life as a work in progress. Each day trying again to move a little closer to that image that God has for my life.

Some days I feel as though I may be learning, understand a little more, moving the right direction. However, there are times when I know that I should have learned something and things should have gone differently, but the old human nature rises up and flesh becomes more dominate. A rough edge needs to be smoothed. But for that day, I wasn't able to overcome the very nature that tries to destroy us. For that day the score is flesh 1: spirit 0.

So I keep this little bottle of beautiful beach glass where I can see it, all through out my day it stands as a visual reminder of the work of God in my life. If something were to happen and we had to leave quickly. I would grab this little bottle and carry with me.

I don't wear jewelery of diamonds or gold. I find no value in those types of things. I do have a wedding ring set that Andrew bought me when we married. I also have a diamond that he gave me on our anniversary one year. Those are special because they are part of our life together, a reminder of the past. I don't wear them, simply because I don't wear jewelry anymore. I keep them in a special place and one day the kids will have them to keep. But I do not desire to have more, I find no real value in those types of things. But my bottle of glass is a treasure to me, something I value, something I hold dear. It has meaning to me, it is a talisman of sorts. Not that I believe within it lies some magic power, but the effect it has on me when I look at it, when I remember, it changes my thinking and my understanding. It takes me beyond the moment, the place where my feet are standing.

It serves two purposes. It carries me back to the place and time when I walked along the shores of Lake Michigan and reached down into the sand to retrieve this beautiful glass. I recall the enjoyment of spending time with my family and reveling in the last few days of summer, when my kids were still with me; still children. It also carries me to a place somewhere in the future, knowing that one day I will hold that bottle and everything will be different. The house I live in will be different, my children may be grown and on their own. God only knows the changes that will have occurred between now and then. But I will be able to hold that bottle of small chards of glass that have been worn down by time and elements, and I will remember.

At the same time I can take a piece out of the bottle and hold it in my hand, letting my fingers touch and feel the smoothness and the rounded edges, understanding that God has held me in His hands. Finding the sharp edges and jaggedness of my life, yet seeing what I could be with a little more polishing and wearing down. Hopefully by the time my life is done, and God calls me out of this world, I can be a smooth, polished and shining example of God's love and His endless mercy. A thing of beauty to the Lord. A treasure that he finds enjoyment in, and receives glory from. I want to be a reflection of Him. I want to reflect His light and love, His goodness and power.

To most, the beach glass is just a bunch broken pieces in a jar, nothing of value, but to me they are a treasure. In the same way I hope God sees me when He looks down at my brokenness, my uselessness. Only through Him can my life be a thing of beauty. Only to Him can I be of any value.

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