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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Appalachian Midnight

Pale moon on a mountain road,

Spectral trees with branches bare,

Aging homes in whitened sleep,

Winter's chill on silvered hills,

Frozen land and people proud.

- VQ (Dec. 24, 2010)

Monday, December 13, 2010

the value of being

In the shuffle of life, I cycle around to this thought:  Is there value in simply "being?"

You'll hear busy executives, exhausted sales associates, and harried parents talk about wanting to "enjoy life" or take time to "enjoy the moment" or "smell the roses."  It's all the same.  Deep inside, each of us wants to absorb the simple bliss of nature and relationship. 

Being a firstborn and driven to achieve and please, this is a difficult concept for me to embrace.  Maybe it is for you too.  I find significance in accomplishing something; that is where affirmation resides. It stretches me to imagine that there is actual value in simply being part of the kaleidoscope of the life God has given me.  Is it possible that sitting in the woods or by the seashore can more enirch the spirit than reading the newest self-help book?  Is it reasonable that sipping a cup of coffee by the twinkle of the Christmas tree has more benefit than checking off that last deadline? 

Well, the responsible part of me says absolutely not.  And granted, there are some duties that must be attended to on-time and with faithfulness.  But, I think its entirely possible that the "doing" will be less fruitful if there is no "being."  I suppose the soul needs nourishment in ways the body cannot supply through action.  And yes, there are some who carry this to extreme - I'm not advocating weird stuff.  But God's amazing world (that includes the beautiful things He's allowed man to create as well as nature) cannot be enjoyed on the run, so to speak. 

But, I've seen abuses of the system.  There are those who simply "be" forever and never "do."  Their houses deteriorate, their vehicles rust through, their relationships stagnate, and their legacy disintegrates.  Sloth is a voracious foe.  And the consequences are really not palatable.  Even those with great gifts are at risk here; art often requires much "being."  Hence, the eccentricies of the great masters.  Still, their contributions redeem them, at least in the perspective of our day.

So, what about the value of "being?"

As a homeschool mom, I am challenged with helping my children to understand this concept and assimilate it into their own world.  It seems we are always pushed for time, always hurrying to the next educational activity, at home or elsewhere.  Dilemma:  this window of childhood is small; there is so much for them to learn.  I have only 18 years to equip them for life (for my older ones, the sand in the hourglass is dwindling quickly).  Lack of ambition or vision will cripple them for life; stress and extreme schedules will smother them. 

Yet, when all is done, their ability to connect with others and to relish the incredible joy of simply being alive and being loved is huge.  While I want my children to be refined, educated, cultured and gracious, I do not wish them to be arrogant or lofty or impractical.  I certainly don't want them too overwhelmed doing and learning to be normal.  While I know I'll remember the things they accomplished while they were growing up, probably the things I'll mentally unwrap again and again will be the ordinary things of life we shared and the simple extravagant beauty of hugs and night-time rituals and unexpected smiles. 

So, the question remains "What about being?" And the answer will define both work and leisure. "All work and no play . ." as they say.  Then again, whose workshop are those "idle hands?" 

The writer of Proverbs offers superb perspective. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor-it is the gift of God. (Proverbs 3:11-13, NKJV)

That sounds like a good life.
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