It started at the end of April, making papier mâché volcanoes and an erupting birthday mountain for my Sweetpea. Then I volunteered to do a presentation on freezer cooking at church. Following that my parents-in-law came to stay for a week and I organized a scavenger hunt for a group of girlfriends. Oh, and did I mention that I got pregnant?
The proverbial snowball, a cartoon sketch of a small ball rolling down the hill, gathering size–it picked up more than just snowflakes on its way—animals, a little man, some pie, a hunk of rock. The ball was a bit wild, and quickly hurtling beyond my control.
Because of late nights and stress, I caught an exhausting sinus cold that lingered for at least a month. The busy stuck around a bit longer, while undoing the snowball has taken until just about now.
What I want to write about today is a tiny but sparkling piece of that unraveling. Last Saturday morning, my Sabbath, I dropped the two little ones off at church with my hubby. Filled up and turned inside-out with all the busyness and tending in my life, something drew me to plan a wander along the beach of Lake Michigan on this most-perfect-of-mornings.
When was the last time I was alone, in nature, in the morning?
Each tiny noticing of the things that fade and disappear in the usual rush of life began to form a string of pearls. I left my sandals in the van, walking barefoot across the parking lot and feeling the cool sand between my toes. A 10:00am sun illuminated the fireworks of cotton snowing from a poplar’s cousin and lining the trail with downy rivers of white. There were more pearls in the sand along the water: a fragment of iridescent clamshell, a pink stone made pinker under the lapping edge of the lake, a shard of cobalt beach glass, little sand avalanches gently eroding around a hunk of driftwood someone had planted in the sand.
Sitting at the edge of the lake, I wrote in my journal:
The lake and the sky are a pair—grey, blue, and green spreading from my left hip, flung above and behind and before, across the universe to my right. I slide my feet into the barest edge of this power, and pull back at the cold. Such wide serenity, such peace, and I can mostly just gaze upon it. But slowly, inch by inch, my feet settle in, and the cool is quenching as the June sun pounds my back.
Could this kind of space, its peace, its healing, enter me, expand the tense places, locate the daily stresses into the minor corner they should occupy? If the sea and the sky are this peaceful and powerful, then what is God?
The gentleness of my sitting, walking, gazing slowed my life metabolism, and on my hike back to the car a family with little kids easily slipped past me. I felt planted, grounded in gravity, somehow more humbly aware of the five feet four inches of altitude that I inhabit.
Why do we, such small beings, live so large? Our little problems paint the sky; we wax and flush over the petty concerns of our race. Meanwhile the heavens barely shroud a colossal universe, the pattering leaves of the cottonwood rustle beyond our gaze, and the lake lays solemnly glass and serene, miles of peace to contemplate.
Let nature reveal to us our smallness, let it instill humility. Let us also believe that somehow nature is for us as well. Let us stroll slowly and lonely outside, and let us do it more often.
Where and how do you experience nature nourishing your journey?
Photos by Robert Fusté