Living in the middle of the swirl

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"What I wouldn't give for a cup of coffee," I mumbled as I dropped children off at school. Continuing up the street on my way home I resented my lack of time to stop and enjoy my favorite beverage. I remembered my long list of tasks. How does you live life when you are pulled in so many different directions?

I enjoy pursuing an array of interests. I feel that God has blessed me with a fair amount of gifts and that I should use them for God's glory. The things I possess are gifts from God, so, consequently, I feel I ought to employ them to improve society and the world. But how can I actually enjoy pleasurable activities while performing all the things that I feel I have to accomplish?

I pictured my life as a whirlwind, then a pool of water quickly swirling around and around. But inside that swirl of water, I saw a tiny center that failed to move. It was the stability within. The water would eventually stop swirling if the middle held steady. I remembered the time when I placed my finger into a body of swirling water and watched the liquid circle. My finger was the hub that the activity revolved around as it kept spinning over and over. If my finger had moved with the momentum of the water, its frenzy would have continued, but because my stilled digit remained steady, it gradually came to a stop.

My mind kept picturing that steaming hot cup of coffee, its mellow aroma floating throughout the room. I thought of a quaint, homey coffee-shop. There, I could sip my drink and meditate. I could simply sit back, watch the people and enjoy living, and I drooled at the prospect.

Then I questioned my view of the situation. Why can't I stop, go inside a coffee shop and enjoy that coveted cup of coffee? I don't punch a clock at work. I set my own hours to do what I do. But, like other people, I always overload myself with too many to-do lists.

Despite those lists, my husband and I turned our vehicle around and headed downtown to a local beverage and short-order restaurant. There, I had my cup of coffee, watched the people and meditated. What a wonderful pause in the middle of the swirl.

That particular day I gained the knowledge that it is indeed possible to live a full, busy and enriching life and still take time out for pleasure. You can have it all if you learn how to balance what you must do with what you want to do. Even though life keeps on swirling around and about, we can create the center of its path. Then our lives will have meaning and direction.

Nothing is ever accomplished without its having a destination first. Without an amount of calm, contemplation and insight, we can never stop the everyday rushed pace and totally live. Jesus said to his disciples as they boasted about their deeds one day. "Come apart into a deserted place and rest awhile." (Mark 6:31-32) He was less impressed with all they had accomplished than with their need to take care of themselves, so they might do well what they were commissioned to do. They, as well as I, needed to learn how to stop and genuinely live in the middle of busy lives -- leaving the hustle and bustle awhile for a higher purpose.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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