Monday, February 10, 2014

peace in the process

A couple weeks ago now, I had a day where I felt like I was meant to learn a lesson.  A lesson that I'd been running into more and more during the course of my days, weeks, and recent months.  A lesson that I'd been refusing to admit I needed to learn.  A lesson that was not giving up without a fight.  And so, in one afternoon on January 27, the stars aligned and things finally became clear.  

My day started out like any other day:  a too-early wake-up call from my sweet pea, a few rows of knitting and Minnie Mouse puzzles, waffles and orange juice (them) and eggs and coffee (me), off to school and boot camp, home to play, lunch, warm milk and an afternoon nap.  And then.  Then I learned a big lesson.  After cleaning up the kitchen, picking up the living room, and starting a load of laundry, I sat down and opened up Facebook and started scrolling through the recent posts.  As I read through the first few, I thought to myself that I needed to move ahead with my reading so I could get a few more things done before Annabel woke up.  After all, there would soon be laundry to fold, dinner to prep, and my favorite boy to pick up from school.  But I decided to look a little further down the page, and I came across this amazing quote posted by my friend Cath:

"Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.  Always work with it, not against it.  Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.  This will miraculously transform your whole life."     -Eckhart Tolle

After reading that quote, I felt like I'd been hit in the head with a 2x4.  Accept the present moment.  No matter what.  

With those words ringing loudly in my head and in my heart, I picked up my Simple Abundance book and my Bible and opened up to where I had left off in my reading.  I was a few days behind and decided to go ahead and catch up.  On January 23, the title of the day's meditation just happened to be "Accepting Real Life."  

Another 2x4.

And then I started reading...

"What is acceptance?  Acceptance is surrendering to what is:  our circumstances, our feelings, our problems, our financial status, our work, our health, our relationships with other people, the delay of our dreams.  Before we can change anything in our life we have to recognize that this is the way it's meant to be right now.  For me, acceptance has become what I call the long sigh of the soul.  It's the closed eyes in prayer, perhaps even the quiet tears.  It's 'all right,' as in 'All right, You lead, I'll follow.'  And it's 'all right' as in 'Everything is going to turn out all right.'  This is simply part of the journey.  ...  Whatever situation exists in your life right now, accept it."

Accept what is.  Yet another 2x4.  

At this point I thought to myself, "Ok, I'm listening.  What else?"

So I opened up my Bible to Psalm 23 which is where I had left off a few days before.  And I read this:

"True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. ... You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.  Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life." 

Catch my cup overflows even now.  2x4.

 You see, I have a bit of an instant gratification complex quite possibly born from the fact that I live in the age of fast food, phones with instant internet, and gyms that are open 24 hours a day.  But no matter the reason (after all, it could just be the way I'm wired or a bad habit that I can't seem to give up), I find that this mindset has bitten me in the ass (pardon my french) on more than one occasion.  And during the last several months as we experienced so many changes and transitions, although most of them were happy, I still found myself looking ahead to when things would be finalized and permanent.  But the truth is, nothing is ever permanent.  Things change and evolve and grow and I was missing that entire process.  I was stressing and worrying and hurrying to get through when I should have been enjoying and learning and being present in the moment.  I wanted to have peace in the process.  

 All of this has slowly been coming about in my life over the last year or so.  Now that it seems to have finally sunk in, it's amazing how different I feel as I'm going though my day.  I'm much more peaceful, better able to "go with the flow," and quicker to notice the small wonders (If you haven't read this book of essays by Barbara Kingsolver I would highly recommend that you do so and soon) that so often went unnoticed.  I've learned to find rest in the busyness, peace in the waiting, and joy in the frustrating.  Of course there are and will be times when I totally forget about all of this and choose to indulge my fear and anxiety and impatience and frustration and anger.  But as those moments and that day or two that I've had since all of this really sunk in a couple weeks ago have come up, I've found myself better able to let them go.  To move on.  To find peace in the process once again.

As I looked back through my photos over the last month, it's amazing how many of them capture this exact lesson being played out in the every day moments of my life.  Playing a game of Go Fish with Annabel who just wants to pick up all the cards...and not rushing through it.  Letting my sweet girl help trim the beans (and eat a few) while I'm trying to get dinner on the table.  Making the kids a fort on a snow day even though I know I'll have to have to fix it a million times.  Waiting patiently for the train to pass and realizing that it's not the end of the world if we're a minute late to tennis.  Loving the process of our house coming together.  Letting Annabel have her own knitting needles and yarn so she can make a "fweater."  Reading the same book over and over (and over) again.  Taking our time up the three flights of stairs to our apartment so that they can hold hands.  Being excited about windows and shingles.  Letting them make the cookies (and letting him wear shorts...when it's 30 degrees outside).  Giving Tommy the vacuum even though I know I'll have to go over most of it again.  Enjoying an early morning (and I mean early...that last photo was taken around 5am) of princess puzzles, mitten knitting, and hot coffee.  

Admittedly, these things will seem trivial to you if the giants you're staring down at the moment are things like the loss of a job or a broken relationship or a serious illness.  But regardless of your circumstances, the lesson remains the same.  Accept what is.  Slow down and seek out small wonders.  Enjoy the little things.  Find peace in the process.

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