Who am I outside of being the mother of these children, the wife to this husband?
What is my purpose?
Beyond our work, who are we?
They are all gone, my four favorites, rafting down the Grand Canyon – one week in, one week left to go. I have kept plenty active with running, doctors appointments, managing the farm, walks with friends, movies and meals with my parents. I have written and read, cleaned out the barn and coop. I have also rested, relished my solitude. I have tried to enjoy the unscheduled, the un-harried.
But why do I have to tabulate my progress? Do you need me to? Is God some cosmic accountant waiting to de-bless me if I fail at this test? Am I worth less when I do less?
I wonder if we keep ourselves busy so we won’t have to face the music – the tune of who we are without our dependencies. Our purpose lying within our addiction to production. We operate at our lowest default setting, in constant reaction. Getting through the day in one piece is our primary achievement. Our best parts stuck, souls dwelling on the back burner. No time, not enough, just getting by.
I know we have obligations, bills to pay, lawns to mow, groceries purchased, children to keep alive and challenged, marriages nurtured. There is a time for everything. Yet, I fear we have lost a bit of our way in the pushing and prodding of ourselves and our families. I fear we have lost some of the beauty in our relentless keeping of schedules.
When I compare my productivity with someone else’s, I presume my life is worth less because I do less. The scarcity rhetoric creeps in with whispers to placate my guilt: invitations to one more committee, one more group, one more cause, one more opportunity to make me more important.
We can see this soulful need to simplify as being an equally soulful need for rest. It seems representative of much of our lives that, looking at the research into sleep patterns in North America, we are most of us chronically underslept. We are burning the candle at both ends, and some of us, if we can, in the middle, too. Rest, as we all know, brings perspective, vitality, and good humor. But it also brings a relaxation into inner silences and images that are sometimes too difficult to face. We might wonder if this has anything to do with our addiction to being busy. Concerning ourselves with the music of the busy outer world, we might not have to face the inner music that was composed as a score for our future destiny. -David Whyte, The Heart Aroused
When we live scattered, running to our activities, accomplishing goals, procuring the American Dream, what happens?
Do we miss the wonder?
What about the dreaming?
Do we see the brokenhearted in our midst?
How about the divine in another?
I don’t like to face this inner music. Before my people set out on their adventure, I had plans – plans to be productive, to accomplish.
A few items have been crossed from the almighty to-do list, but any thorough audit will reveal holes. Instead I have completed that which is most important for my soul. I perched myself in the yard’s center, with a beer in one hand and book in another. Scooting clouds skirted the mountain horizon while I snuck a peek at a bald eagle buoyed by a current of wind, my bare toes nestled in the damp grass. I closed my eyes and played the soundtrack of scurrying chickens, browsing sheep crunching with righteous greed, birds tweeting from the treetops. I turned my face to the sun, the warmth radiating, supplying my emptiness with the fullness of plenty.
Our purpose is found in living into these moments, setting down our obligations, recognizing the gifts. Our purpose is found in silencing the voices of shame that clamor for earning and striving with the lies of should and must and ought. Our purpose is found in honoring rest and staking our claim on the simple beauty that surrounds us.
Our purpose is in living into how loved we are – by God, by others. Our purpose is in our presence, in being. Our purpose lies in the heart of God, thrumming with grace and abundance.
My family will return, my productivity will resume, some days might be calculated to the minute. But I will remove my shoes, stand firm in the grass, laugh at the animals, drink a beer in the sun, follow the soaring path of the eagle, wonder at the moon’s pull.
In the silence of a still moment, I hope to resume my position, count the gifts, and remember: I am enough, just as I am.