We recently marked one year since everything shut down initially here in Idaho. This past year has brought many moments of chaos and uncertainty as we have navigated life through a global pandemic. I often refer to riding the rollercoaster of pandemic life, riding the ups and downs that this year has brought. There are times when the chaos of it all can feel overwhelming and it is hard to see a light at the end of this tunnel. When we are in the midst of the chaos it can be hard to find moments of peace and calm, but when we find or make time for those moments it can make a world of difference.
Recently my car was in the shop for an appointment that was going to take about two hours. The shop was close to a little bakery that I walked over to and got a cup of coffee and a scone. I then sat at a table outside in the morning sunshine to enjoy my scone and coffee while reading a book. As I sat there reading, enjoying the morning sunshine that made it almost warm outside, I was struck by the amount of birds chirping. There was a chorus of birds greeting the day and I just wanted to sit there and enjoy it as long as possible. I remember thinking to myself “I wish I could start every day like this.” Enjoying a cup of coffee, a good book, and the blessings of nature. Starting my day with that moment of peacefulness set not only my day, but my whole week in an upward direction.
A few weekends ago I made my second attempt to go on a snowshoeing adventure at a Park n’ Ski area north of Idaho City. This adventure was much more successful than my first attempt where I spent more time digging my car out from being stuck in the not plowed parking area than snowshoeing. This time the weather was gorgeous! The loop I was on had quite an elevation increase and the view was just amazing. I paused many times as I was going to take in the beauty of the sky and the mountains and the snow (and to take breaks because it was a lot of work). There was one spot, and I don’t recall why that spot was different, that I stopped and was just deeply struck by the peace of the quiet stillness of the snowy forest. It was one of those moments that is almost hard to put into words. I just stood there soaking in the peace around me wishing I could bottle it up and bring it back to the busyness of life, wishing I could bring a little bit of that quiet and stillness back to the noisiness of Boise. You don’t always realize how noisy your surroundings are until you experience the quiet of somewhere else.
For me nature is usually a place where I find a sense of peace and calm, and often a place where I connect with God. But in the busyness and chaos of life it can be easy to forget to connect with the places and things that bring us peace. I didn’t realize how much I needed to sit and enjoy the sounds of birds greeting the morning until I was literally doing it. I feel like this is what often happens. We are going along keeping up with our long to-do lists and schedules filled to the brim, forgetting how important it is to sometimes press pause. Many times we stumble upon these moments, which makes me wonder how many of these moments we might miss when we are too focused somewhere else to look up and see the beauty around us. It sounds a bit weird to say schedule in moments of peace, but our lives revolve so much around schedules sometimes that is the only way to get moments of peace and calm in the midst of the chaos of life. Find the things that give us a sense of peace and make sure we aren’t forgetting to find those moments throughout our weeks.
I pray that you can find moments to pause the chaos and to notice. To see where there are moments or opportunities for peace and calm all around us if only we look up and see.
Lord, during this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace. May we use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation. -Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer