One of the best things about my gift was manifested last night in the sweet time spent talking, before drifting off to sleep together. He said, “I want you to be happy and content with where we are now.” It wasn’t offered in a snarky, arrogant tone. He meant every single word, and wanted precious enjoyment of the beautiful parts of my life now. I had been mentally exhausting myself with work possibilities, and projects to get done, and ideas to bring to fruition. He simply asked me to sit back, and take melodious note of the present’s blessing. His suggestion reminded me of Matthew 6:25-26: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” If Christ taught this as necessary, maybe I should pay more attention to it.
There are a combination of events and personality quirks that give me the innate desire to keep moving on a trajectory of “progress.” Our generation thrives on change; my family loves accomplishment; magazines add to ideation; America; I tell myself every day that if I lift a few more sets or learn a few more systems the result will be total happiness. I hardly ever spend time just looking at the crystal sky, or meditating on social justice or loving the laughter of my loved ones in that particular moment. Conversations can turn into an overhead gaze for how to maximize the efficiency of something else.
And then there are times like Monday, when I spent an entire 24-hour cycle relaxing and appreciating the wonderful jewels: phone calls and texts from loved ones, quality time with my husband, a tasty seafood dinner, two new Keller books, DVR’d Walking Dead episodes, the list goes on…There was a night last week spent in the cozy home of two professors with other ESL volunteers, and Greensboro immigrants for a Thanksgiving dinner and company. Entire pages of journals are plump with praise. I need to stop harping that contentment is acquiescence, and see it for what it is. It is “the thing with feathers”, as Emily Dickinson narrated. It is the rolling peace that accompanies appreciation.
My mind truly opens up to the striking creativity it was made for, as contentment is harvested. It’s in response to the freeing of its channels. Frustrated goals have been zipping around, and in these moments they’re not. Life is clearly outlined in my settled thinking, and the decisions to grow a character, fill the chocolates with cranberries or raspberries, and read more Hugo spiral out softly. Relaxed thoughts won’t remain there forever, a vibrant peacock to be observed. They will carefully walk me back to kindness, more powerful love, and satisfying reflection. I’m really determined to find hope in that this season, and beyond.
Henry Cloud, a dynamic writer and psychologist, writes in “The Law of Happiness” about a man who lost everything. He was a high-power executive for an entertainment company, had numerous accolades, worked his way up from being in the mailroom to running board meetings. His response to being fired for no good reason during a takeover was to run a marathon and enjoy his time off. Paul wrote letters of encouragement in prison. Sam reminded Frodo that their path mattered in the grand scheme of things. Arwen fought despite her predicted death. And I can dance and sing among easy times and bountiful gifts.