Thursday, July 25, 2013

Life Is Like a Bowl of Oatmeal

{Day 4 of Jen's 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge}

I like my gratification like I like my oatmeal. (Instant) I probably only like my oatmeal that way because I am too rushed in the mornings to stand over the stove and make it old school style. I know, it's better for you that way, and you probably get more lasting satisfaction from a good hearty bowl of steel cut oats than from that instant Quaker packet of sugary goodness. (Update: Before the Hubs calls shenanigans, I should probably fess up that I'm usually so rushed or un-hungry that I rarely eat a full breakfast unless it is past ten and I'm kicking it at home for the day.)

The parallel between oatmeal and life isn't completely removed (stay with me here). Gratification, deep lasting satisfaction, comes over time and with hard work. The things that have filled my heart with the same contentment as letting out that deep breath when you've been holding it in are those things that took time to develop or that I worked hard to complete.

There is a rhythm to deep satisfaction. Anticipation, exhilaration, mixed with a little frustration perhaps, building to the long awaited moment, whatever that might be, however little or big that might be, followed by that release. For Li'l G, it may be a completed puzzle or a tower built. For me, it may be a project finished or event. The building anticipation is part of that satisfaction. Too often, though, what I allow myself to experience is impatience rather than anticipation, and I hurry through the process to achieve the end instead of allowing the road to completion build as it should. I look for shortcuts or feel that if we can just reach the end then the satisfaction will come.

The trouble is that often times, to reach the end without taking the full journey leads to a cheap thrill instead of lasting satisfaction. We are off to the next best thing and don't take the time to savor what we have just experienced. This is true of the way we eat, drink, love, pray (I think there might be a spinoff book in there somewhere), and live. In a fast paced culture, where we are constantly conditioned to keep going, to stop takes restraint. To savor takes intention. To contemplate and reflect, to take each step and not leap them three at a time takes discipline. It is a discipline I sorely need to acquire to let my heart rest in that heavy sigh of contentment.

I need to drink in every stage of my children, even when my impatience begs me to implore them to move on to the next. I need to honor the present moment, whatever its difficulties and glean what it is that God is trying to teach me, or how He is blessing me in my mess. I need to spend more time quieting my soul to still my heart and mind and discern what is real and what is fiction, what is necessary and what is excess. The seconds turn into minutes turn into hours turn into days at what seems like record speed, when in reality time travels at the same rate it always has, we just fill them so full and travel so fast that we have in essence lost time.

I need to learn to wait gracefully, not tapping my fingers and toes in an agitated fervor. It's in those moments that move what seems too slowly that we likely see most clearly. Our vision is given time to come into appropriate focus and the blind spots melt away. We begin to see life as it truly is, not as the blur that passes by while we are on the road to somewhere other than the current moment. In Walden, Thoreau writes,
When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. This is always exhilarating and sublime. By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations.
The blurry vision courtesy of racing through life deceives us (me) as well. The fears start to take over, the soundtrack of negativity races through my brain distorting reality and dulling my senses to respond more slowly to the Holy Spirit. In racing to get to the next moment, I don't always see where I am supposed to be going. I try to put the Spirit on a leash and drag him with me. I think we all know how well that works (not at all). I have to learn to wait for it, as Shawn Spencer of Psych fame would tell me. While comedic timing is everything for him, the stakes are a little higher in life. Learning to wait on the Lord brings us every good thing in its due time where by rushing through life may begin to look a little bleak.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14

To think this all started by comparing life to oatmeal...

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1 comment:

  1. What a lovely meditation, Rakhi, and one that's always needed!