I wrote this blog in June after returning from our summer vacation on the East Coast. I am still learning these lessons, and I thought I might share them with you again. Enjoy!
In true fifth grade style, I am writing my “what I did on my summer vacation” essay. And in true fifth grade style, my desire is to simply say, “lots!”
We had a beautiful family adventure across country. First the 1100 mile trek from Arkansas to Maryland for my husband’s stepbrother’s wedding, and then to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a relaxing week of sand and surf and then the 1300 mile trip back….wooh, that’s a lot of driving!
Ever the dutiful writer, I brought my new prayer journal for all the epiphanies God would show me in my quiet time at sunrise on the beach, and my big 5 subject notebook for all the essays I would write from the great life lessons I learned, and my computer for all the blog posts I would write about my adventures, and even a couple of steno pads for the times when I just felt like jotting brilliant ideas down. I headed out on our adventure, eyes wide open, pen in hand, eagerly awaiting a blog-worthy moment like paparazzi waiting for the latest starlet to hop out of her car with a too-short mini skirt. AND, well, guys…I got nuthin’.
Oh, I tried…I tried hard to write. I got up at sunrise and sat in the quiet light of the sun and the whoosh whoosh of the waves…I hauled paper pads with us everywhere lest I be caught unaware by the writing bug….but nothing. Words wouldn’t flow from my pen. My mind was blank….Even God was remarkably quiet about writing. And, frankly, I was a little more than disappointed by that.
And then, one day, after forcing words into a what I called a “poem” just to say I had written SOMETHING, I, in a fit of petulance, I cried out to God, “What is going on!?”
“Don’t write, Cari. ENGAGE! Play! Relax! There is no lesson here except be present with your family and have some fun. Put away your notebook. The words will come when the time is right.”
And then I realized that I was viewing my life through spectator’s eyes. I was constantly seeking an opportunity to turn life into an object lesson because that’s what I love to do…to turn the everyday life story into an universal lesson on life, but I had begun to view my entire life that way and I had stopped ENGAGING the people I love.
How great is God to gently shove me back in the game by silencing my words, knowing that I desperately needed that time of connection with my husband and kids and that I would not choose it for myself because I didn’t realize that I had forgotten how. That is what he is teaching me now…through stories like this:
A Zen monk, being chased by a bear runs off a cliff. As he is falling, he grabs a branch. He looks up and sees the bear leaning over the cliff, clawing at his head and missing only by inches. As the monk looks down to the ground, about fifteen feet below him, he sees a lion leaping up, missing his feet only by inches. As he looks at the branch he is clutching, he sees two groundhogs gnawing away at it. He watches as his lifeline disappears, bite by bite. As the monk takes a long, deep breath, he notices, next to his branch, a clump of wild strawberries. In the middle of the clump is a great, red, juicy strawberry. With his one free hand, the Zen monk reaches over, picks the strawberry, puts it in his mouth, chews it slowly and says, “Ah … delicious.”
So, I learned to eat strawberries again.
I am learning to be intentional again. To be present in the moment and take joy in it. To participate in it. It is a beautiful time of renewal for me. So if the posts seem sparse over here, please know that I am in the midst of a wonderful season of growth, and bear with me. I will return with stories soon enough.
In the meantime, what has God been teaching you lately?