It is Fall and a rather rainy, gray, misty day here in the Northwest. Just a short time back, I was sitting here at my desk with the door open, listening to the sounds of the birds and the rustling of the leaves. Now, there is the gentle patter of rain and a damp chill in the air. Another season has come.
The first big storm hit last weekend, putting out our power for two days. Living in the country has its advantages, but when the power goes out, the power to our well pump goes with it, so we were reminded of the luxury of having running water in the house. It’s funny how we don’t give some things a thought unless they go away for a time.
During the rather long, dimly lit evenings, my husband and I reflected on how spoiled we were. Electricity, indoor plumbing, and all of the things we take for granted are rather new inventions. Yet, we can hardly imagine a world without them. When the power finally came back on, I sent up a prayer of thanksgiving. Hallelujah! Things were back to normal.
What is normal anyway? Is it when we can walk through life unmindful and on automatic? I wonder sometimes. It is difficult to turn on the news in the evening and be bombarded with the sorrow and suffering across the globe and even at our front door. Isn’t being zoned out a lot easier than being tuned in?
We like our routines and our ruts. It seems that they provide a bit of psychic relief and protection from the pain that surrounds us. But being numb is a poor substitute for being fully alive. Is there perhaps a way that we can learn to be present in a more heart-felt, awakened state where we can appreciate life? To go through life in an unconscious mode might protect us from a sense of suffering, but it also numbs us to the joys and beauty of life. We can miss the song of the bird, the gentle sound of the rain, and the mystery of life.
How do we keep our balance? For me, having a time everyday for quiet reflection and meditation is the gyroscope of my life that allows me to also be present in the world to face suffering and heartbreak. A gyroscope is an instrument that helps us to know which direction is up when the storms of life are turning everything upside down.
I find that my heart space is a sacred space. If I create some quiet time to reflect here, to remember my origins as a Child of God, I can find my center and open to the sacred beauty that does exist in the world. It is here that I can develop eyes to see this and to hear it and to cultivate the will and the ability to view others as a Child of God as well.
Rather than anesthetize my heart with the media, food, shopping, work, and busyness of all kinds, I can medicate my heart by creating and crafting a time and space in my life in which I can be still and enter into the mystery of what it means to be a human being. Yes, there is suffering, and no, I cannot do much about most of it. But, I can do something about my own suffering. I can learn to honor that most holy and sacred of all things—my own heart. I honor it with my time and attention and I value its ability to feel—to feel suffering and sorrow, but also to feel joy, happiness, and peace.