|Close up of a beautiful flower arrangement in South Haven last Summer.|
Focus... you may recall that is my "Word" for the year 2015. I have found choosing one word for each year rather than a list of resolutions has been quite successful. I pray about the upcoming year months before each ends and every year the "Word" has meant something special. Often only God would know what it would mean to me.
So I've been attempting to remain more focused this year. Focusing on living life in such a way that I really truly notice the important things. The little things that make up my days, which become my years... which turn into a lifetime lived one moment at a time.
I've been thinking about the difference of what life was like a few generations ago to what it is like now. How living slowly was, well... necessary. The last time my husband and I were at Old Sturbridge Village (a very favorite place of ours) in Massachusetts, we spent more time than usual inside the Sawmill reading the information provided in various parts of the building.
We were surprised to learn (and my husband has a graduate degree in Wood Science) that the work in each sawmill at that time was seasonal. The saw work that had to be done was scheduled by nature alone as the water flowed through the mill when the river was high each year.
With summer pretty much arriving where I live, a new season has begun. My life is slow and my borders small. I came to accept this fact of life long ago as illness progressed (developing the auto immune diseases Type 1 Diabetes and Hashimoto's disease).
Life lived each year. Every season. Smaller. Slower.
I've accepted the fact that it takes weeks to finally get the garden all repaired and the soil ready and the seeds planted and then the veggie starts planted and then weeded... you get the idea. But it is worth it, even if it is gardening done imperfectly.
It has all come together to remind me that life can be good even when lived within smaller borders and on a slower schedule than before. In many ways, it is a blessing. Once I accepted the limitations at least. For it forced me to slow down and smell the roses... or in my case, the herb garden.
Instead of flying through dinner preparations as I did when arriving home from work, I enjoy the slicing and chopping of veggies. I think of cooking as an art and the French chef's knife as much an instrument for making Art as a painter's brush. Slow living and slow cooking allows such creativity.
A limited income can be frustrating, especially when one must put a bucket in the kitchen where the roof is leaking in heavy storms (we have had storms a lot this spring). But then again, it forces one to stay home a lot and much like the homemakers before the automobile came along... the making of a home becomes one's canvas for creating.
I am still trying to focus more often, choosing carefully what I allow to fill the time. I need to be more thoughtful as how I go about my days for they pass so quickly. Life is, indeed, a vapor as the Word tells us.
Yesterday, I finally got around to updating the address book in my study with addresses from the family address book we keep in the small home office. After I finished, my husband gave me the two older address books we have used throughout forty years of marriage (I didn't know we still had them!) that were stuffed with old envelopes and notes on paper as well as the names and addresses within.
It isn't often one has their entire married life in their hands, all the relationships that were important enough to write down in one's address book for forty years. I went through it all and what struck me was how many of these people were no longer with us. (Which happens when a couple is older and both were born to older parents!).
Not only have so many passed on but there were names of couples no longer married to each other, once close friends we don't know where they now live, and some names I hadn't a clue as to who they were. A vapor! Forty years of people and you know how many pages I saved from the books and all the papers? One. Single. Page.
As I threw the Past into the waste basket, I was more determined to live in the moment more often.
- To take time to enjoy people when I am with them.
- To write a real letter.
- To make a celebration cake and serve it for no reason at all but that it is Today.
- To enjoy the process of making a meal instead of throwing it all together as quickly as possible.
- To make my time with God a priority instead of squeezing it in between unimportant tasks.
- To Focus on what is important for Eternity.
- To enjoy each season as it comes.
- To be amazed at how a tiny seed planted in the ground grows into something so big!
- To pack a picnic and eat by the pond in the park my mother loved so much.
My prayer for you, whether you are entering the heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter... take the time to look for all the good God has provided. Live as slowly as your circumstances allow. Don't fall for the world's deceit that busy is better.
This life may be the dress rehearsal for Heaven... but it is the only one you get. So slow down and live. Enjoy the season. Even if it is hot and there are mosquitoes. Think of those things you can only do by living slowly within this particular season... then do it. Enjoy it. Embrace it.
For before you know, it will be too late and another season will be upon us. The opportunity that comes with this season will have vanished and I'm certain there are things you wish you took the time to do. Before you can't.