marley, sodor, birds, and love (originally published on atlasoflight.com)
[Originally Published on 2/13/2016 on www.atlasoflight.com, the blog that preceded atlasartpress.com]
Following this past Monday morning at 5am--when I was staring blankly, jaw dropped, after spilling coffee on my priceless laptop--I went through several emotional states. First, was a period of serious Denial (that my only absolutely necessary work tool to get several deadline projects completed was gone); then Action (think who has the Adobe design suite on a mac, is local, and isn't using it; then rush my laptop to Rotten Apples repair); third was Mourning (well, it would be nice to get a new one, but there are quite a few things that I'll be missing about my old one); and finally Acceptance (realizing that this accident happened, there's nothing I can do but use what I've got and wait until it's fixed). After this initial series of emotions, I reached a new state of emotion--like when you hear some really shocking news and go into zombie mode. (Now, I realize this really isn't a life or death example, but bear with me and remember, it's about the message.)
In this new state of emotion following the initial fallout, I noticed three things while 1. in the shower, 2. in the living room, and 3. in the snow. The feeling that I needed to step back and breathe. stop and listen. selah. all came back to me. My body went from panic mode into recovery mode. The mode when you start to feel like everything is gonna be alright. The world is big. Your problems are small. So, just be mindful of yourself one moment at a time.
 The first thing I noticed was when I stepped into the shower and realized I did NOT want to listen to NPR World News on my iPhone, but, in fact, I just wanted to listen to some Bob Marley. After all, it is his birthday month--February (2/6/45). My good old friend Bob whom owned a huge piece of property in my listening environment during my teens and 20s and brought me a lot of relaxation and lovin feelings, was beckoning me back to his beautiful, serene, lyrical habitat. I quickly switched from the NPR podcast to Pandora and--just as I suspected--Mr. Marley confirmed that EVERYTHING gonna be alright. Your music is making me feel no pain. I'll smile with the rising sun with those three little birds by my doorstep. Thank you, sir, I won't worry about a thing or fear what the day may bring today. I'll just loosen up and just love these little moments that individually are perfect.
With Bob, I stopped and relaxed! When I was going through the motions of my usual routine of multi-tasking all the time, I realized I could choose to take a deeper breath and surround myself with calmer music, slow down and let my shoulders relax. I took a moment to give myself a little break and just show some love and kindness to myself.
 Now this got me thinking of birds singing, so I started looking up when I was outside. Sometimes all you need to do is look up instead of down you'll find that everything, EVERYTHING, changes. It snowed quite a bit over the last few days and during a few moments when everyone else in the house was occupied (husband was with kids), I snuck out with our dog, Carl, and took a walk in the second snow of this short winter. We have these trails carved out of an acre behind our new house that are my little treasure of fresh breath and serenity. Boots, scarf, hat, and mittens in tow, I put on my gear while I was walking out the back door and soaked in the rare Pittsburgh winter sunshine. There were birds and they were singing. I looked upwards to the blue sky as their fluttering wished me a carefree day. Their presence was so effortless, so perfect, so important. If you've ever stopped to really watch little birds (the common kind you find in your backyard or park trees and bushes), have you noticed how even their movements seem cheerful? They seem to whistle while they work, spreading no worries or fear, just love in knowing they will always have enough in this cold winter.
With the birds, I stopped and observed. Looking up instead of down and looking around instead of only forward--stopping to notice the little birds singing and ALL of the amazing little gifts that God showers on us to show his love every moment of every day.
 Speaking of birds singing, let me tell you about where you can find more enchanting birdsongs--a place that you can be transported to in just minutes with Netflix and a living room floor. Have you heard of the Island of Sodor? (hint: a little engine called Thomas lives there). Take a deep breath, sit down and listen:
The Island of Sodor is surrounded by beautiful blue sea. It has fields of green and sandy yellow beaches. There are rivers. Streams. And lots of trees where the birds sing. There are windmills and a coal mine. And docks where visitors to the Island arrive... Wait! Who's that puffing down the track? It's THOMAS! Hello everybody! Welcome to the Island of Sodor!
Well, hello to you, too! Don't mind if I do... just hoppity hop onto that little engine. I'd like nothing more than little Thomas the tank engine in his shiny blue steamer to just chug, chug, chuff down some little tracks outside my house and take me to his little wonderland. Thomas and those little engines embrace where they live and though they run into their fair share of problems along their railways, they always start the day off right. Each day, they start by just loving where they are at, not focusing on the muddy waters or spilled milk that may lie ahead--only the beauty of that moment in which they all start their day's adventure. They let go of their worries and fear and just share the love of their surroundings TOGETHER where the birds always sing despite what lies ahead.
With the Island of Sodor, I stopped to "just be." Just sitting amid the chaos of little children is hard. There is always something to do or someone that needs attention. But soak in the surroundings and the sounds and see that everything is beautiful in THIS very moment. Fill yourself with a feeling of love for those around you, because even though the day's adventures may be exhausting and hard, you are all in it together.
...I tell you not to worry about everyday life...Look at the birds...Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?...And why worry...Look at the lilies of the field...Why do you have so little faith...So don’t worry...Seek first his kingdom...don’t worry...Get the full quote in Matthew (6:25-34 NLT)
We've all been worrying for thousands of years apparently. The man who said those words wouldn't have been talking about it so much, if worry and fear were not constantly invading people's minds like a gang of bandits. Worry and fear are malevolent partners in crime. They come to steal the riches of your life and leave your storehouse of love empty. You and I can just substitute "I'm worried about..." with "I'm fearful about...", right?
I need to remind myself quite often that fear is the complete opposite of love. Love cannot contain any fear. There is no room for fear in love.
So, how did I learn during this week to push fear and worry away with love?
- I stopped and relaxed. (let love in for yourself)
- I stopped and observed. (let God show you his love)
- I stopped to "just be." (let togetherness reveal love)
Let go of fear and worry. Pause and reflect. Stop and listen. Then wait... wait... Do you hear that? Feel that? Now bash my buffers, that was love that just flew into my funnel. This is my message to yoo. hoo. hoo.