Just as I was pining for fall, the sun came out blazing hot last week. I closed the doors and windows (no air conditioners in NW Oregon; we don't need them that often) and endured the heat by watching cooking shows. Somehow I ended up in Hell's Kitchen, watching the host scream and spit and demean his chefs - apparently as a motivational tool. My stomach turned to think of the person receiving those plates of food, bathed as they were in anger and disrespect, fear and frustration. What a taste to linger on the palate, on the soul.
I saw someone had posted this little quote today: "Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it." (Marianne Williamson)
How true that is. I don't like to think of the many times I've served fear or anger or disrespect to others.
Just today I walked into a conversation with a heart full of frustration and embarrassment and I opened my mouth and spilled it out all over the others. What would have happened, I wondered later, if I had taken two minutes beforehand to pray and breathe and reCenter myself?
Years ago at a county fair, I bought a small clay turtle and hung it from a ribbon on my rearview mirror. It was to remind me that God works with me slowly, slowly, ever so slowly. I talk about stillness and quiet now, but you must imagine the impatient, rushing, urgent, desperately in a hurry girl I once was. A turtle was not the message I wanted to receive from God. But I still have it. Today I sat in the car and swung the little turtle back and forth and remembered.
Every bit of hurry in me leads to disappointment. Slow down, oh my soul.
This silly thing has been bothering me: I bought a book on permaculture that Mark and I wanted to read aloud together. Just a little bit every night, we said. But night after night we are busy or we fall asleep and now we are still on page three. This kind of slowness frustrates me. On Saturday when we were working outside in the yard I was just gearing up to complain, "Why can't we just get organized and read that book? What's wrong with us? We have so much to learn about taking care of this property!" when Mark looked around and said, "You've done an amazing job with the garden this year, sweetheart." I stopped and stared at him. Was he crazy? I mean seriously, the weeds...the overgrowth, the disaster, the failure...
Perfectionism has a way of blinding the soul. I am terribly impatient with my humanity.
I swallowed my complaint about the book and put my head back down to work. I potted up some little dogwood starts I'd uncovered in the overgrowth. We'll plant them along the driveway next spring. In a few years they'll be big enough to flower on their own and my dream of a tree-lined driveway will be that much closer. Slowly, slowly. Please, give thanks, oh my soul.
We fell asleep that night without reading.
While I was watching the Hell's Kitchen episode I imagined myself there and cringed. I simply couldn't stand up under that kind of pressure. The host kept screaming, "Do you want to be the best?" And all of the contestants would shout back, "Yes, Chef!" And I think we were supposed to feel that this is how it is - this is how the best become the best, how the clever and the ambitious make it to the top, losers get out.
But that's just a world they made themselves; we don't have to live there.
I reached over and turned the show off.
Consider the lilies of the field. They neither toil nor spin.
Consider how beautiful they are in their stillness,
infused with the peace of being exactly who they are and nothing else.