Last week, when I accepted Jill’s gift to my forties, I knew I needed to sit in it for awhile. As much as I was tempted to write a prescription for my birthday malaise in the form of a to do list, the hammered words reminded me that an open and whole heart has more to do with asking questions than ticking off an agenda.
And yet, and yet. . . If we are to live authentically, at some point our deepest intentions and values must meet the clock, the calendar, the wallet. The rhythm of our days plays out what is true on our lives, not what we wish to be true or say to be true. If I am going to head into this decade honestly living out vulnerability, bravery in love, creativity, peaceful presence, health, and growth in grace, that desire has implications not just for head and heart, but hands and feet.
This weekend, a few moments spent on my belly in the front yard gave me an inkling about how to wrap myself around this truth. We’d taken a Sabbath at home, to rest and be unhurried, to be outdoors together. Seeing our ajuga in full bloom, I’d gone inside for my camera, with my old friend the 50 mm 1.8 lens connected to it. The gorgeous purple blossoms grow only a few inches high, so to immerse myself in their royal richness, I flopped down on the new grass and the walkway.
I saw him as I pressed the shutter halfway down to focus. He was working that stand of flowers like nobody’s business, never hurried, but never completely still. And he was completely unconcerned about me, and my desire to take his picture.
There seem to be lessons on whole hearted practice on either side of the lens, if I tune in to them. The bee was about his business, undistracted as he pursued what he was there to do. And I got to bear witness because I was willing to be there. Willing to stop another task to go in and get the camera, willing to get down to where I needed to be to focus. Willing to accept the additional gift of capturing nature at work and not just pretty petals. And willing to be still, to be in the background of the action for the time it took.
I’m going to be considering what practices I’ll pursue to train the muscles of my whole heart. What repeated actions will help me grow in depth of presence, in undistracted industry, in creativity and creation, in love and strength? How do I guard from those actions becoming ends in themselves?
Really, it comes down to my insides matching my outsides.
Or another way of putting it, how do I keep my belly on the ground but my finger on the shutter?
More to come. . .