Quiet Reflections

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The quieter you become, the more you can hear. –Ram Dass

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to the day. The light breeze rippled over the surface of the lake creating a watercolor reflection of the peachy-blue, dusk lit skies. Gentle waves lapped up against the shore in a relaxing rhythm inviting me to slow my breath to its beat.  My family’s silhouettes bobbed up and down in a canoe as they paddled out toward the sunset. Echoes of their laughter bounced back to me with joy. I stood at the water’s edge to take it all in. The scene before me seemed like it was painted just for me. Painted with attention to detail and brushed with peace and love.

The rush to get to camp and the busyness of the day melted off every tense and tired muscle leaving puddles of unwanted, unnecessary stress on the shore. I felt lighter, freer. Peace quieted my mind and made space in my heart to hear. To hear is so much more difficult to do than to listen. At home, I listen to the noise of the world and responsibilities at high volume. But here, at camp, God had cleared my schedule and removed distractions. He quieted the noise and had my full attention. I was ready to receive and hear. And here are a few things I heard…

“Be still, know I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“Let me teach you and give you rest.” Matthew 11:28-29

“You are mine.”  1 John 3:1, 1 Peter 2:9

“I made you in my image, wonderfully and fearfully made, with a purpose.”  Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10

“I delight in you.” Zephaniah 3:17

“I have great things planned for you and your family. “ Jeremiah 29:11

“Let me go first. You are not alone.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Rest in the confidence of my faithfulness.”  Psalm 91:4

“Enjoy life and all I have given you.” John 10:10

And, “I love you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9, Jeremiah 31:3

God wants to paint a scene of peace and love just for you too. It might not be a lakeside sunset, but He KNOWS how best to get our individual attention with a pursuit of love, grace and mercy. God wants to help quiet our noisy hearts to embrace a quiet one, to move from half listening to wholeheartedly hearing.  So, be ready to be caught off guard (in a good way) and be ready to receive what He wants to you to hear.


Peacocks and Nuns

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One of the reasons why I love walking is the interesting things that I might see or the unique people I might come across. There are routes and roads that I have been down a million times before but I always manage to find something new to discover.  I make it my mission to keep my eyes open, searching for a sort of keepsake or souvenir from the day. I collect these mental images and memories like snapshots filling an imaginary photo album that documents all of my “journeys.”

There have been many interesting encounters. A lot of them involving birds. I have quietly ducked under a perched hawk, followed an Eastern blue bird off the road and into the woods, and one time I met a handsome peacock.

I was living on a small island then. The quiet island roads and spectacular ocean views made walking a gift and a treat. It was a glorious, sunny day. The sea breeze was salty, cool and refreshing. I did not have a care in the world or any particular place to be.

As I walked along,  I started to hear this strange click-clacking sound coming from behind me. There was nothing else on the road. No people, no houses, no cars. I turned around to see what it was. Coming up behind me was a power-walking peacock. One big, beautiful, blue peacock shimmering in the sun. As the peacock came up to me, it did not slow its pace but looked me squarely in the face and straight into my eyes as if to say, “Excuse me! You are blocking my way!”

A little taken back, that a bird could display such arrogant behavior, I moved out of its way  to watch that proud peacock pass me and continue his walk with his beautiful tail swaying behind him. I have always wondered what that peacock was doing or where he has heading. Even though I never came across him again, our chance meeting has left me with a lasting impression of peacocks.

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Then there are the people I meet. A skull-cap motorcycle rider, the UPS guy, groups of teenagers, and the three cheerful, preppy, older ladies who all look the same and walk their dogs together.

Yesterday morning was abnormally warm and the sun was peaking out from an overcast sky.  I laced up my sneakers, secured my ear buds in place and pumped up Toby Mac on my phone. Dance-walking down my driveway, I turned on to the side walk. The beat of the music took over my steps and provided rhythm to my thoughts.

I was about twenty minutes into my walk when something caught my attention. I noticed two people gracefully making their way down a side street. Their long, black clothing and head coverings looked out of place in my empty, quiet neighborhood. I stopped to “check” my phone, very intrigued to see two nuns quietly walking and talking in the middle of the street.  Maybe they were visiting friends? Maybe they were praying through the neighborhood?  Regardless of the reason, their presence provided peace. It made me happy to see them and I purposely stalled to say hello and tell them what a beautiful morning it was. After they went by (and I snapped a picture), I continued on my way with a smile and my heart full with gratitude that we live in such a diverse world that still contains hope and good things.

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All these encounters makes me wonder what lasting impression do I leave on people. How do I impact someone’s day?  Am I leaving a lasting impression of cheerfulness, friendliness or peace? Or is it one of pride and arrogance like my peacock friend?  Am I like the hawk? Are people ducking to get out of my way and avoid my talons? Or am I more like a blue bird leading others to new discoveries and encouraging people to take a new and braver path? Oh, I so hope that I am more like a blue bird or a peaceful nun.

Our world is full of beauty and adventure. It is filled with good people and people who may need and desire more goodness in their life. Open your eyes to see the beauty and the adventure. Open your eyes to see the people who need a lasting impression of love and hope. Discover what makes your heart sing and search your heart to find ways to bypass paths that should be avoided. Discover ways that your heart can lead you to help other people. Bravely explore and move forward. And help others do the same.