Friday, June 12, 2015

Unbalanced but Centered

It's true that I enjoy certain aspects of every season, which makes me a pretty good Minnesotan, but each year, there are certain delights of summer that cannot be beat...working in the garden and watching it grow, going to the Farmer's Market, picking and eating fresh berries, going on boat rides, kayaking, having the windows open on a breezy, sunny day...the list goes on.

Last summer, our lead pastor went on sabbatical, so the other two of us pastors had to step in a bit to cover things while at the same time that we took care of ourselves and took some time to enjoy summer too.  When everything was said and done, we made it through just fine.

This summer, one of our pastors is retiring, so it is starting out feeling rather like last summer as we figure out new roles and who will cover which things.  Many days, I'm excited by the possibilities that lie ahead.  On others you might find me pressing my hands against the side of my head to quell a headache caused by stress.

On those days, I am reminded to take things one step at a time and to focus on the things that I can do something about rather than on the numerous things that I cannot.  For instance, I might not be able to finish all my lingering projects at home, but I can tackle one nagging task, like cleaning a shelf in my pantry or doing (yet) another load of laundry.

And just when I feel like the summer might pass us by without having much time to spend together with family and friends, I pause and remember what a gift it is to have so many wonderful people in our lives.  Then I get my calendar out and carve out some time to do some of the things that are on our summer "bucket list"...go camping, visit the zoo, play yard games, and simply play.

Photo by David Bengston
Whenever I get to thinking about all this, I'm always brought back to the analogy of the "big rocks"- the fact that you have to put the things that are most important in first otherwise our time will get eaten up by everything else first. 

Two of the things that I've reminded I need to be even more intentional about carving time out for (or fitting in first) are time for prayer and reflection and time to play.  These are the things that help me feel centered when life gets hectic and feels like it's about to unravel.

In times like these, I'm also reminded of the Native American teaching of being mindful of which "wolf" you feed.  That lesson says that there are two wolves inside each of us, vying for our attention.  One wolf represents things like envy and worry and discontentment.  The other represents peace, gentleness, gratefulness, and kindness.  And the moral of the story is that the wolf that wins out is the wolf that we feed.

So in my own life, the wolf that I want to feed is the one that represents kindness, contentment, joy, and peace.  That is the legacy I want to pass on to my children and the things that I want to define our life as a family.  And spending time with God, even if it's just a couple of minutes, and taking time to simply play are two of the best ways to feed that wolf, rather than get caught up fretting and being anxious.

After all, feeling anxious and stressed is a sure-fire way to stifle the joys of summer.  On the other hand, sitting down with a good book, going for a simple family walk, and starting my day with a moment of (mostly) quiet prayer make me more ready and able to say with a smile, bring it on!

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