Last Wednesday, July 12, marked the 200th birthday of the naturalist/philosopher Henry David Thoreau. As part of the celebration remembrance, tours to his home and other places in his life are free to tourists. Most of us, from high school English classes, remember him for his written thoughts of the time he spent at a small cabin in the woods near Walden Pond.
Minimalists, obviously, adore him for what has become a popular mantra…”Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.” For me this means cleaning out a lifetime of clutter day by day and drawer by drawer…my mission this summer. I keep a wooden plaque near “Big Red” so I can keep cheering myself on to victory (every time I water I see the sign)… goal: a house filled with organized drawers and closets. Get rid of too much “STUFF!” By de-cluttering my house I hope to de-clutter my mind, heart, and soul. I want more one-on-one time with God… free from distractions.
Of course, Thoreau said it a tad more eloquently:
“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
I remember, as a child, overhearing mother talking to friends or family on the phone and when asked about work…she always responded with her favorite phrase: “Oh we are just as busy as a bee.”
What Thoreau wanted us to consider was…Does our busyness contribute anything to our fellow man outside our own paycheck? Are we staying busy for the right reasons…or just being busy for the sake of being busy?
Don’t we all know people who make a profession out of staying busy? Every time we talk to them they constantly remind us how busy they are…as if they deserve a medal or something for their constant busy lives. When we think that surely their lives have settled down after meeting some major deadlines, professionally or personally, we discover that they have already filled up any “free” leisure time with more busy work. These type people thrive on staying busy and are only happy when they can complain about how busy they are. They will be “busy bees” until the day they drop dead. It is just who they are. They haven’t discovered that they are turning their busyness inward instead of reaching out to God to lead them on the right path and balance their lives.
One can’t help but wonder if these people fill their lives with so much busyness so they never have time to reflect or mediate on their true purposes in life and/or the direction they wish to go. This, I believe, is what Thoreau was telling us.
When we stay so busy and a sudden crisis develops, we first want to know how to ‘work this crisis’ into our busy lives. We feel this “need to know” so we can plan ahead. We become spiritually frazzled by this desire to know the conclusion of the crisis…and while waiting we become anxious and stressed.
This is an universal and normal reaction but what we must realize is…life doesn’t like to ruin the ending by telling us upfront how it will all go down. The success of our responses to crises in our lives depend on the positive attitudes we maintain while waiting for the clarity that always follows any calamity.
In other words…it does all come back to the basic three spiritual elements…the gifts (as cited in yesterday’s novel/scripture) faith, hope, and love. These are God’s gifts that will get us through each crisis we meet. Faith in God, hope during the process, and love for everyone helping us through the crisis…most importantly God.
So until tomorrow…Let us always look to God and His GodWinks, His miracles when we face the inevitable obstacles that will appear in our lives.
I remember hearing my family (mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles) say at different times in my life something along the line of “God will never give us more than we can handle.” Well, hello, many of us face potential life-threatening crises that are definitely (at least speaking for myself) more than I can handle…but definitely not more than God can handle.
Overwhelming suffering comes because we live in a broken world with broken people. And we don’t have what it takes when these crises come along…but I do know one thing for sure…I might not have it all together but I do know that God will never leave my side and no problem is bigger than God and His power to overcome it.
We just have to remember, like the psalmist asked, “Where does my help come from?“with the response. “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1,2
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
*When we aren’t totally absorbed in the business of busyness …we can see some wonderful natural mysteries unveil right before our eyes… for me it was one glance out my “office” window.
It was 8:30 last night and as I glanced out the window…my Ginger Shell plant had a light shining from it. I thought it must be a lightning bug and was so excited! I grabbed my Iphone and headed outside in the light, dripping remnants of the soft afternoon rain here in Summerville.
When I got to the plant there was no lightning bug but there was a tiny light…like something coming from a teeny flashlight. It had to be reflecting off something I surmised…but there is only dense foliage between me and my side neighbor and he had no lights on in his yard nor do I have flood light on that side of the house.
Still it glowed eerily with no explanation. Don’t you love it when nature can still surprise us at a moment’s notice…when logic goes out the window because logic doesn’t apply to the situation.
I cast my ballot for it being a tiny rain fairy perched on the leaf to enjoy the gentle rain. That’s our story and we are sticking to it…right Eva Cate?