Some days are just kind of stupid.
You sit there early, hands cupped around a half-mug of cold coffee, feeling that the world beyond your own bed is exhausting. And perhaps just a little bit insupportable. Vacations, among other things, will do that do to you.
You haven’t the heart to consult the best-laid-plan you made so cheerfully the night before. (And well past your bedtime, I might add.) You know it’s just way too long.
And too optimistic.
You contemplate last night’s dishes crowding the sink and you very sensibly decide to take a walk. And then you come right back inside, beaten and subdued by August itself before you’re fairly out of the gate.
Some days are just like that.
Some days you have to close the cover on your screaming day planner and walk past the dishes like they’re not even there. You have to drive with the top down and the music up. (Kind of loud.) You make an impulsive date with a dashingly handsome man you are wildly in love with (and who happens to be your husband).
Some days there is simply nothing to be done but to put on his favorite dress and sip champagne over a stolen lunch.
Some days you need to stop and look at the things you have loved all your life like you have never seen them before. And remember why you love them.
Some days you need a cold dog nose under your hand and some days you need a soft blanket and a fluffy book. And some days you need a spritz of fancy perfume.
Today was one of the latter. And like a tiny vacation of its own, it lifted me out of the everyday muck and mire of post-vacation blues and plunked me down with wonder into the gift of the moment.
We’ve been away for a while, out gallivanting along the coast in our Airstream. For two weeks I sat on the beach and watched the tide come and go as I slowly digested Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. (More on that later. I hope.) She gave me a lot to think about, but one of the most striking points was something I’ve already felt God stirring in my own heart all summer: the necessity of living in the moment, as that is the only place that life is to be found. Nearly sixty years ago she made the point that Americans on the whole are very bad at this:
Perhaps the historian or the sociologist or the philosopher would say that we are still propelled by our frontier energy, still conditioned by our pioneer pressures or our Puritan anxiety to “do ye next thing.”
Lindbergh contrasts this frantic race for the future (be it next year or next month or the next moment—“Ah, then I will begin to live!”) with the atmosphere of Europe, constrained by the horrors of two world wars (and another half-century of turmoil, I might add) into a forced appreciation of the present: “A golden eternity of here and now.” This is an extremely simplistic commentary on both her words and the historical characteristics of Europe and America, but I really think she’s on to something. All I have to do is look across the Pond to my European friends (and remember the life I’ve lived intermittently and occasionally among them) to believe she’s right. If I had to name something quintessentially European, it would be that gift they possess of living in the moment. Being fully present. “Even if it means merely a walk in the country on Sunday or sipping a cup of black coffee at a sidewalk café.”
The world has gotten bigger since the post-war days in which Anne’s words were penned (or smaller, depending on how you want to look at it) but the significance of the moment we’re in is no less glorious than it ever has been or ever will be. It is the superlative masterpiece of God’s gift of life; it is the place where joy stabs us and sorrow keens us awake. It is holy, kindled with sacred fire.
It’s all we have.
My present today of a pretty dress and a quick lunch with my husband is now past. But I will remember that smack in the middle of a very busy day we held hands and talked about someday. And it made today so very sweet.
Some days are just kind of teeming and pulsing with the miracle.
And that’s when we know that they all are.
the still point ( TS Eliot’s words to yours : it is the place where joy stabs us and sorrow keens us awake. It is holy, kindled with sacred fire.)
you bring hope to my heart and soul.
Beautifully written. And so true. I see so many people worried about next week, next month, next year, but rarely stopping to take time for today. The reality is there may not be a tomorrow, so we should all say ‘I love you’ to our friends every day, take time to smile at strangers, and laugh with children. Because tomorrow may be too late.
There is something to be said about carpe diem – that injunction to “seize the day”. So much if it is this slowing down, taking notice, really seeing. God’s goodness and presence abounds “for those who have eyes to see.”
I read Gift From the Sea by the ocean this summer too ….looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it…..
True. True. I just received Andy Gullihorn’s new album in the mail yesterday and was awakened to the truth of this post in his song ‘The Surface of Things’. Part of the lyrics read: ‘We have been scratching at the surface of things / When rivers run underneath / There’s a whole world happening just under our breath’
I want to live life with passionate awareness, but it’s easy to be wearied from life as it happens, as it falls into our lap, and not muster the energy to cultivate the deeper life – what life could be if we pushed past that weariness. Even small changes, like listening to good album or sipping a good cup of tea can help push past the weariness.
The depth of the Christian sense of the present isn’t simply “today is all we have.” It is more nuanced, more settled. The “Now” and “Not Yet” is held in tension. Choices today matter much further, not simply into the future, but into eternity.
As we juggle the urgency of doing what is right in the now, we often need a recalibration of our scales. Thus righting our mind so we might discern our responses and decisions aright. Our priorities, motivators and even creative inspiration will benefit. I believe this is the sweet miracle Lanier described.
In pursuit of the beautiful, and the beautiful one. To see, savor, and reflect Him.
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