I Preach to Myself

If I’ve learned anything, and if there’s anything that I will reiterate over and over again, it is that the time we have to live fully is too little to be rushed and too long to be wasted.  You’ve heard it from me again and again on this blog.

But mostly I say it to myself because my life is the life that is rushed.  The stages surge together into one big current, and it no longer matters to me how old I am or what my maturity level is.  Because life is too short to wonder about that, to concern myself with it.

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” – Wendell Berry

And when Anne Frank talks about finding happiness in yourself… I have come to see what that means.  It’s not a form of selfishness or self-centeredness.  It is simply the ability to embrace who you are.  For me it has been a recognition of personality traits.  That I never cry, or that I like watching people’s feet underneath the dressing room door, or that I will sit in Starbucks and read perfectly contentedly for three hours, or that I love people, or that I’m a Facebook addict, or that I don’t mind working two part time jobs, or that I love my family, or that I enjoy doing things that shock people.  I laugh loudly and violently.   I have learned to embrace the loneliness of the moment, or the moment gone, because it’s only looking back at myself sitting all alone in a place that I feel loneliness—and so it exists only in retrospection.   I find contentment.  Or rather, I come into contentment.  It’s one of those things that you will never find if you try and pursue it, if you use it as an end.  It’s a gift.  You enter into it, and you feel its pervasive power in every minute.

I have been that person who listens and rests in the grace of the world.  I have been the one who has stood out under the stars and sought refuge from the force of rush and busyness.  Not even events or activities—but the rush of the head, the mind, the heart.  The stress that pushes out total equilibrium.  I have been the person who has exhaled empty feeling and bad feeling and anger and resentment and bitterness into the cold air and watched it dissolve, and felt the grace spring new, felt my soul reverberate with vitality.

I can’t tell you how to rest in grace.  There are things that I did, things I should have done that I didn’t.  It’s not a recipe, it’s not a check-list.  But this is a peculiarity of Christianity, that we are able to receive peace and not fight against it.  It is a gift.  And gifts are given to people that are undeserving, least expecting, even us as we are—humans.

Pursue joy.  Don’t let yourself be overtaken by your own desire for the world or yourself or others, let yourself be overtaken by joy.  Stop trying to live, and live.  Experience that release of the world, and be content.  Then you can find joy… joy in the God who created you, joy in you for Christ in you, joy for this whole life, this wonderful thing that was given to us to toil in and to enjoy.  “But we do not have to live as if we were alone.” – Wendell Berry.  He’s right.  We were given a whole fellowship of Christians, believers, to learn and grow with.  Humans were made to love.  Love your brothers and sisters.  Love the whole human race.  Give yourself totally over to love, and let it be your life.  When you begin to live in love, you begin to live in contentment, because God is love and in him is ultimate peace.

“I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.” – Wendell Berry


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