As I have said before, I have spent my life being accountable first to others and then to my own unrelenting overdeveloped sense of responsibility, duty and obligation. Only on rare occasions have I ever approached being relaxed enough to enjoy the moment, and when I have the guilt has always been so overwhelming that I would quickly returned to duty as if duty were a place. It was safe there. It was validating. However, working through the issues of where I have been and who I have been in my life during this past year has opened corners of my heart that have been locked away for a very long time. I have begun to feel the moments of my life more deeply, to feel present and aware with less guilt or panic.
The seeds of my soul’s awakening began in the most unexpected places.
The first was flying over the snow-capped Rockies, a place that magnifies the glories of God’s creation. The majesty of that massive collection of peaks and valleys was overwhelming. Panic cannot exist in the face of such presence. I was flying to southern California from Chicago. As we flew over the Rockies, I felt like we were frozen in time. The terrain below traded between endless brown masses and gentle white blankets. The contrasts drew even more attention to the incredible size of the mountainous range. Occasional willowy puffs of white gave license to the imagination that conjured up images of old smoke signals or smoldering volcanoes. Science would probably explain the phenomenon as clashing temperature zones causing the moisture in the air to be more steam-like. But, that explanation was for the scientist. At that moment, for me, I gave myself permission to see the images of roaming buffaloes and nestled tribes holding smoky conversations about the next hunt.
“The buffalo are close,” one tribe has signaled.
“How soon before the hunt begins,” replies the other.
“Soon, very soon,” responds the first.
All this as the stately mountain goat climbs steadfastly among the step slops searching for thawing streams and the promise of spring.
Suddenly, I notice that there was a pass below between the mountains. What left those long, strange tracks?
Like the peaks of my mother’s whipped egg whites, the mountain peaks stood defiantly against the cloudless sky before giving way to a patchwork quilt spread smoothly over the terrain.
As we flew out of the mountain range, I made a mental note to myself to remember to again embrace the permission that had just allowed me look down and see, no experience, wonder.