Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

The tick marks on the post bear witness to how fast children grow. Beside each line is a name and date forever solidifying the measurement in that moment of history. Each year of their lives, children have a quantifiable number for how much their bodies have defied gravity.

But what about all the other parts of us? What about those deep, mysterious places in our characters and souls that rebel against weighing or measuring but have nonetheless grown or expanded, shrunk or diminished?

Our time out here, at the lake, has become a cyclical growth chart of my life and of my family's life too. I have been coming out here since before I can remember - spending the summers at my grandparents. I grew up here; each year I returned I was the same and yet different - a little bit more than the previous year.

Now my children have come almost every year of their lives, and I have marked their growth in inches, to be sure, but also in form and substance that defies numbers and categories. Returning to this location each year helps me to see the richness of character the past year has produced, the places of growth, and even unresolved, hidden places. It helps me see and demarcate the "MUCHNESS" that has sprung up in all of us.

This year we have watched our son go from timid and shy, worried and fearful to a young boy full of courage. Last year the tick mark told me he was afraid to go out too deep in the canoe, afraid of tipping over, fearful of even swimming in the lake. This year, he jumped into the canoe, wanted to learn to paddle all by himself, learned to start our little motor and drive the boat himself, AND I can't get him out of the water!! Yes, the numbers tell me he has grown taller and older, but something more has happened. He has expanded. Courage has overtaken fear; worry is being pushed our by bravery and risk.

And I wonder if this is true with all of us? Have we grown in our MUCHNESS ? Are we more than we once were? And when do we stop to acknowledge it and find some way, like those tick marks up the wall, to document it? (and celebrate it??)

Summer is a great time to do this, you know. Many of us visit the same vacation spots or do similar activities; even if we do not, summer tends to allow us to slow down a little, linger a little longer and reflect on our lives. So why not, during one of those times, write down two lists? One column being "who I am not anymore" and another being "who I am becoming".

Let that be our growth chart - our indicator of how aspects of our character have expanded or diminished. Then, let's celebrate (or perhaps grieve) what we find to be transforming in ourselves so we can get on living into our MUCHNESS!

Breathe, Smile and Go Slowly.

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