grammar and tonic                

Editing with a twist.

A Splash of Tonic

Cut Down the Tree

Posted on September 1, 2016 at 9:50 PM

On the Saturday I was to pick my daughter up from church camp, I arrived a little early for selfish reasons. For seven of my summers growing up, I spent a week at that very same place, although the wooden cabins and creaky metal bunk beds have been replaced by concrete dorms. Even now as an adult, I have the same feeling of nostalgia and anticipation when I finally see the wooden sign that welomes me back. As much as I missed my daughter and could not wait to see her, I was nearly as homesick for this place. 

I made my way back to a clearing in the woods and sat on one of the plank benches in the outdoor worship area. I closed my eyes, almost overwhelmed to sit there and just be. Lately, I'd allowed myself to get caught up in the logistics of daily life and hadn't been doing much living. I was only going through the motions, rushing from one thing to the next and not feeling rested or fulfilled, and not doing anything well.. I was on a hamster wheel of my own making and I was exhausted, both physically and emotionally.  

I sat there alone with myself and my thoughts and my God. I lifted my face and felt the warm sun reach down between the tree branches. Out loud, I asked for help to regain my balance and focus on what is truly important. I asked for help to stop getting hung up in the details that don't matter. I asked for guidance to help me find who I am truly meant to be and where I am meant to serve in this season of my life. It was fitting to be having this conversation with God out in the woods because I'd been living the cliché of not seeing the forest for the tree.As I sat there and the quiet became loud in my ears, a peace that I hadn't felt in quite a while washed over me, almost as if my soul exhaled and melted into child's pose at the end of a yoga class.

When I'm listening for God to acknowledge or answer my prayers, I've learned that I need to be patient. Sometimes the answer is not at all what I'd expected it to be. Sometimes it's simply a lesson in learning patience and discipline. And still other times, the answer is so subtle that I almost miss it.

This time, however, there was no doubt that I'd been heard. The gist of the opening prayer the following morning at church was what I had prayed the day before, but was worded far more eloquently: Patient Lord, we schedule our lives down to the very second. We crowd in as much activity as we can and then wonder why we are so stressed out and tired. We are afraid to miss out on anything. And when it comes time to be with others, we spend our time worrying about the details rather than longing for the visit. Forgive us when we get so caught up in the details and miss the opportunity to sit at your feet learning, listening, and growing in our faith. Help us to place ourselves in your care. Slow us down, just a bit, so that we can see the wonders you have placed before us and truly enjoy and share the blessings you have given us. Amen.

Indeed, this message was for me, about me, to me. It was the gospel according to St Carly Simon. “You're so vain, you probably think this (prayer) is about you..." 

Well, then.

I am in the process of reevaluation. I am going to try to get rid of my shoulds, need tos, and have tos. I am going to try to slow down and listen better for divine direction in my life. I am going to try to clear away the things that are blocking my path to inner peace. 

I am going to cut down the tree.


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