I make it a practice to visit my Divine Office throughout the course of my day while I practice prayer and work in my life.
I also make it a daily practice to take a walk in nature in contemplative thought. Every now and again, I fall into a rut.
Sometimes, I need to step away from the grind and go for a prolonged stay in nature. In August of 2020, my partner, Sherry, and I took such a break to quiet locations in celebration of my birthday. During the week, we spent some time enjoying activities like mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking. We also spent time reading spiritual writings, reflecting on the meaning in the verse, and contemplating the messages in prayer.
One of those locations was at the Hadsel/Mares camp at Wheeler Pond in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, which was the final location of our mini-retreat. I wrote the following reflection there.
In the bigger picture, this was an event that has significance in being insignificant. Taken individually, we are all just a speck of dust in the cosmic flow. Living on a planet that has been floating around in space for roughly a few billion years, all of us here on Earth exist for just a brief moment in time, yet (I believe) we all come with a purpose, even people that we might not agree with. An important distinction to make amidst the chaos and confusion of the daily grind (I’ll get to that distinction in a minute).
Sometimes, the grind can seem rather pointless to me as I sit on the sidelines and watch the back and forth banter ensue between those drawn by the pull of political division. The constant drone echoing through the airwaves gets rather stale for my taste and the grind of dualism in our society can simply wear a person down. It rings true to my ears that the vortex of the ego is a powerful force that can suck anyone into the abyss; I believe that the din and clamor created by that force can tire the soul. With just a sliver of awareness, hope remains within the spirit.
I need to be reminded every now and again that I should not yield to the weariness of the spirit. That the world’s cares and distractions will intrude and make me weak. It’s up to me, in times like this, to carry on and take the required steps to renew my spirit so that it will become strong again.
Believe as you will, but it’s my belief that God’s spirit is always with me; however, I can silence that grace if I give in to the relentless pull of the ego’s force. When I give in, my soul gets weary. This weariness can come at me in various ways but it always leaves me anxious and with a feeling that’s physically and mentally exhausting. When I’m in that state of life, it’s incumbent upon me to do something about it.
If not, then I can get sucked into the worldly grind just like anybody else.
Over the course of time, the threads of dualistic and egocentric thinking have become tightly woven into all of us. Awareness of that reality helps a person remain cognizant of the negative side effects that come with a dualistic mindset. Unfortunately for me (and perhaps all of us), is that the first clue that I’m slipping into that mindset is when others start to irritate me more. It’s a spiritual axiom of sorts that helps me understand that my lack of acceptance, and the inner conflict that comes with it, is resolved by a change in my attitude toward the person, place, or thing that I hold in contempt.
The truth, then, is that the solution rests within me and a change in my attitude provides the remedy. The ego, on the other hand, flips it around on us and gets us thinking that others are the ones in need of changing. Coming to the realization that the responsibility for my inner peace rests with me isn’t always welcomed news. That realization forces me to surrender to a Higher Power that can provide the needed courage to see that a shift of consciousness has occurred within me and that adjustments need to be made in my attitude.
In my case, this practice is a process and not an event. Faith helps and it creates a pathway that leads me to a vista where my line of sight is unobstructed. It takes energy to get to that place and oftentimes, I simply trudge along. But, a slow and steady effort leads me to a spot where I can rise above the fog, get to a place of quiet, gain an element of equilibrium in my attitude and outlook on life, and wait for the power of the spirit to flow back in.
I’m grateful for this awareness (and on a good day) blessed with that grace; it settles my unrest.
Nature provides an entryway for me that opens a door to a place where I can connect to a greater purpose. That connection, then, allows me to find a significance in my insignificance and a purposeful meaning to my existence. I don’t mean to imply that I have anything perfected in life. That truth should be somewhat self-evident if you read between the lines.
Each of us, though, has weathered many storms in life. Like a mountain, we have been chiseled by the forces of nature and come with our own unique character. We also come with a deeper meaning and a deeper purpose that can be realized when we pause and reflect upon our interconnectedness. When we take the time to journey into that uncharted territory, walls of division come down, and we can start to reflect on the vulnerable nature of each individual.
All of us have elements of vulnerability within us. These elements are reflected back to us from others who hold a similar set of traits. We, in turn, reflect a similar set of traits back to them. If we look between the lily pads of life, we start to see the definition in the reflections and the inner beauty that rests within each other, and the common connections that we all share.
As I transition toward the coming year and my next trip around the sun. I hope that these words can bring you some inspiration and serve to help you find some courage to open up the eyes of your own soul. In the reflections, there is a place of brilliance that exists within each of us and it beams a gracious light.
Be still and rest in the silence
Reflections form in quiet waters
A depth of meaning is seen when we look into the moments
The lily pads on the surface form an entryway
With a slightly different perspective
One can embrace the beauty inside of Wheeler Pond
With a bit of courage
We can carry that grace forward upon our departure
Walking with a sense of reverence in our daily journey
Is sure to enable a gait fed by a heart of compassion
And a soul bathed in kindness
Maybe, with a mixture of hope, an essence of empathy comes with us
When we step away from the busyness of life
It is easier to appreciate that there is a oneness to our existence
too often that spirit is forgotten
Each of us comes from the same place
We won the race of millions at the moment of our creation
Surely, we can recognize our purpose
And, see that an interconnectedness exists in us all
Where the marrow meets the bone
In every walk of life
Lead the way with
Compassion, patience, understanding, tolerance, kindness, respect, and love
Be the good that the world so desperately needs