Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

I have an evil foe...a great antagonist.  This adversary looms large and is found on almost every corner I see.  It casts its oppositional powers into frustrating my well laid plans and throwing a wrench into my life.  It can cause my blood to boil and turn annoyance into anger.  I caught this behemoth with my camera the other day, just as it assailed me again.  The picture is below.....

 Yes, that's right.  The dark sinister character that so frustrates my life is a stoplight!  And not just ONE stoplight, but ALL stoplights.  They ruin my plans for efficiency and slow me down!  They seemingly know when I am approaching in my car because they taunt me with the shortest green light cycle I have ever seen, smirking as they allow the car in front of me to drive off and turning red to make me wait the duration.

At this point you might be laughing, but there is much truth hidden in my metaphor.  I do not like to be stopped when I have things to get done.  As I rehearse the list in my head of what I need to do, conversations I need to have, and projects I need to finish, I do NOT want to be slowed down.  (After all, doesn't a yellow light mean "go really, really, really, really fast??)  And what is true on the road, I am learning, is true in my life too.  I am really good at rushing ahead into all sorts of activities and don't really like to be impeded.

In a stupor of frustration (while sitting staring at my red opponent) the other day, I wondered if I could make my enemy my friend.  I know...crazy thought...but I had to ponder the idea of seeing this Goliath in a good light.  (No pun intended!)   I was reminded of a time (probably in Europe somewhere) where the bells of the church would ring to remind the people of a town that it was time to stop and worship.  Then I thought of other cultures where the ringing of a bell is a reminder to (once again!) stop and be mindful of your body, thoughts, and life.

What if, in a culture where I hear no bells on a daily basis, stoplights are my "mindfulness bells".  What if I used this former foe to remind me to not only stop my car (so the police officer doesn't give me a ticket) but also to stop and pay attention to the state of my being.  What if each time I had to stop, I used it as a time to give thanks or just to simply practice the Presence of God? that is what I have been doing.  To be honest, it is difficult because I still love to be quick and efficient, but each time I stop I am realizing how much time I spend thinking about the future or hashing over past events or conversations, and this powerful stoplight causes me to simply come back to the moment I am in.  It causes me to reconnect with myself and with God.

I guess this doesn't totally work if you live in a place with no stoplights, but in that case you could find your own "mindfulness bell".  Maybe every time you change a baby's diaper?  Maybe each time you hear your phone ring at work?  Maybe something you have to do a lot that you dread?  It doesn't have to be huge....just something we encounter over and over.  Something that might feel like our archenemy, but is really a friend in disguise.

So, may we all find a "mindfulness bell" that brings us back into the present moment.  And in that present moment, may we find deep gratitude for the here and now and a deep connection with the Presence of God.

Breathe, smile and go slowly 
(especially through those yellow lights!)

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