This morning I wake up to the soothing sound of rain pelting on my roof. I roll over in bed, cuddle closer to my husband and our little dog who is snoring between us, and let the rain drops soothe me back to sleep.
You see, it’s Sunday morning … and I have nowhere I have to be.
Later the rain continues to fall, now bouncing on the kitchen skylight, as I sit cozy in the den debating on whether I should light the fireplace; I am embracing the changing season. I linger over a cup of coffee, breathing deeply, feeling at peace and grateful.
How lovely that it is Sunday morning … and I have nowhere else to be.
A few years ago, this would be an entirely different story.
A few years ago, I was an active member of a small evangelical Christian church, and Sunday mornings found me very busy. I often neglected to pause to catch my breath or to find the time to really soak up and enjoy God’s creation. I kept myself too busy to simply be.
But now my mornings are relaxed, calm, peaceful and full of opportunities for gratitude.
I hear my husband walking down the hall. I smile. I could recognize the sound of his walk anywhere. “Coffee is on” I say. And we enjoy the morning hours together, having breakfast, talking quietly, making plans, discussing recent happenings, laughing, relishing the gift of each other. Life is busy with our two careers, grown daughters and one grandson. It’s wonderful to have this time to connect – just the two of us.
The morning rain gives way to a fresh, breezy sunny afternoon. It’s early fall. I do a quick tidy of our loving little home, washing bed sheets and hanging them outside to dry. I pause and reflect … Oh, how I love the smell of sheets that have been air dried. They carry the sweet smell of the village where we live.
The hubby heads off to do some errands and I hook the leash on our little doggy. He jumps and squeals with excitement in response to the word “walk”. I smile.
We start our journey along our favourite path with much tail wagging and sniffing. We walk past open fields colourful with goldenrod and other wildflowers, we hear the steady gentle buzzing of insects and the rustle of leaves as the wind blows through. This same breeze catches my hair and tickles the back of my neck.
What a gift it is to be alive on this bright, breezy Sunday afternoon, with nowhere else I have to be.
The day passes peacefully, lazily, as I putter. One of our daughters has left home to start her own little family, and I have been renovating her former bedroom into a new yoga room. Today I remove a rug from one space and place it in this new space. I smile at the results. I breathe deep and an image comes to my mind of my husband carefully painting the window frame of this room. He’s done a lot of work here, scraping stucco off the ceiling and painting the walls my choice of a “gentle rain” grey. I sense the love with which he created this room. Like the love I imagine Jesus felt as He spoke the world into being. In here, I feel safe and warm.
It’s become a sacred place to spend time in on this Sunday where I am free to just be.
Later I pour myself a glass of rosé from my favourite winery. My mind travels back to a couple of Sundays ago when my husband and I jumped onto his motorcycle and we spent the day touring around. He drove me to my favourite winery in Niagara on the Lake because this is the only place your can purchase this particular wine. It’s not sold in stores. I remember how special that Sunday was. And then my mind flows to other Sundays. Sundays filled with fun, spontaneity and love. Sundays spent laughing with my little grandson, daughter and her partner. Family Sundays spent with my Mother in Law. Sundays spent with friends. Sundays of fun and enjoyment. Sundays of peace and contentment. Sundays spent enjoying the many gifts God has blessed me with. Sundays of gratitude.
How I love these Sundays. Days where I have nowhere in particular to be. Days where I am free to be me.
Like a lot of women these days, I seek balance in life. So it is quite fitting that the topic I have chosen for my first blog entry, involves achieving that often evasive balance.
One of my favourite books is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book caught my eye a few years ago during a turbulent time. It was and remains an inspiration. I love when Liz meets the medicine man, Ketut Lyer, and I love the first piece of advice he gives her in the form of a drawing. “To find the balance you want”, Ketut spoke through his translator, “this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have four legs instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart instead. That way, you will know God”. This quote continues to resonate with me.
I am an avid yoga practitioner. I practiced it as a child and later rediscovered it in middle age during a particularly tumultuous time. This was a time of rapid, unexpected and frankly unwelcome change. It’s funny how for years things seem to stay the same, then suddenly everything changes. Like an earthquake that rocks one’s very foundation, events can shake lives up like a child shaking a snow globe. I was left wondering where things would land and how it would all end up. What would the landscape of this new life look like? I worried and fretted – and then I hit my yoga mat.
I practiced at home and also joined a yoga class. Classes went well, for the most part, since I was naturally flexible. However, the first challenge I met on the mat was tree pose. In tree pose (vrksasana) I was required to stand on one foot with my other foot resting high up on the inner thigh of my standing leg. It is a beautiful yoga posture to focus on balance as one side is worked at a time. And I fell each time I attempted it. Apparently my inability at achieving balance in life was mirrored on the yoga mat.
Well, as John Donne first said: “No man (or in my case woman) is an island”. I was blessed with wonderful advice from a dear friend who had become a yoga teacher in response to her own life challenges.
We worked together on Vrksasana.
“Reach down and use your fingers to spread the toes of your left foot. Your toes will become like roots in the earth. Now ground down with your entire leg. At the same time, stretch up through your spine, lift your chin and breathe. Yes, that’s it. Take some time to follow your breath. Now, shoulders back, held held high and eyes wide open, choose something in front of you to focus on. Do not take your eyes off that focal point. Now, hands in prayer position, lift your right leg and tuck the heal into your left thigh. Nice. Now hold this. And breathe. Never forget to breathe – and to focus.”
This was the first lesson I took off the mat and applied to my life.
I set my feet firmly on the foundation of my faith in God and on the love of family. This grounded me. I lifted my weary shoulders up (so heavy from carrying so much), and I held my head high. I knew who I was and, despite everything else that was happening, I knew how much I truly was loved. No circumstances could change these facts. Then I prayed setting my sights on the belief that God had plans for me – good plans. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)
And it was here that I found steadiness in the storm; balance as I navigated the changing tides of life.