By Melinda Athey
Just like that our California season of “atmospheric-river weather events” ended. The sun came out, and all the flowers bloomed. The birds began singing and the California Poppies lifted their golden heads in all their glory. Just like that, the weather shifted. The howling wind, sheets of sideways rain, falling branches, falling trees, and power outages stopped. The world seems peaceful, and inviting again in this little garden space of sunshine.
As I walk past the sunny poppies I remember the relentless rain and the feeling of danger. I recall the broken roof tiles and smashed windows from blowing debris. I am grateful that while driving on the freeway, my car, caught by the wind and blown into the next lane, didn’t hit another vehicle or hydroplane in all the water.
In the midst of the strange wet windy winter was the news that death would come. Creeping around the foundations and window casings of our lives, knocking and wondering when it would be let in as we ushered my family member into hospice care.
This has led me to wonder about my own fear. There is the fear of physical danger such as a car crash, a terrible storm, or being a soldier at war. Then there is the fear that wells in my chest from thoughts in my mind. I call this mind chatter. The mind chatter of walking into a room full of perfect strangers wondering if I’ll fit in. It’s the mind chatter of helping my loved one in hospice. It’s the mind chatter of failure or embarrassment of a new thing/experience I’m trying.
A respected psychologist and minister said, “Curiosity is the antidote to fear.”
With change, in seasons or life, comes the unknown. With the unknown, comes the opportunity for mind chatter full of fear or for curiosity.
In this season of your life, what is your mind chatter? How could you hold it with curiosity and kindness? What questions does it have for you, or you might have for it?
What has been your response to mind chatter and fear? How do you stay grounded when it arises either physically or imagined? Like these California Poppies blooming after the storms, how do you be fully you and fully present to your life in each given moment?
By Kenton W. Smith, D.Min., DASD
Sitting still and doing nothing is a prayer practice of doing the same thing over and over as a path of prayer. Repetition prayer may evoke recollection of prior experience re-entering and savoring what is still alive or has been or might become. Many days nothing is noticed, other days there may be a subtle sense of arousal or gentle tease like a tug on the imagination or emotions that materialize in a few words.
In the context of sitting still and doing nothing day after day in silent and slow gazing at the natural world of my garden and wild landscape, the emotional energy of gratitude arrived as a stimulated moment of felt connection between the living world around me and life within in me. The material world and consciousness met in an inexplicable spiritual awakening that prompted an affection that felt like communion with an other. George MacLeod taught, “We should look for God not away from the material world in some spiritual realm but rather more deeply in the life of the world.”
Sit still and do nothing in the natural world.
Savor the silence and the scene before you with a long loving look at the real.
Allow the soft energy of the moment to arrive on its own to unveil your experience and what the divine might be showing you.