A Way Home Again

I do not have great aspirations,

or concern myself with things that are beyond me.

Indeed I am composed and quiet

Psalm 131


TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS into another year now and even though my heart rose with annual hopes and expectation for changed routines as a result of talk of resolution(s), not much is different. One full cycle of the moon around the earth in these twenty-eight days and my heart remains churning along in the same rhythmic pattern as before.

My therapist thinks I’m cheating myself. Maybe she was weary of following my meandering thoughts hypothesize on why I feel so despondent at times. “You should give yourself a break. “ In thinking more of her easier-said-than-done instruction, I believe she’s got a point. A really profound one, too.

The world inside of me is a busy one construed in thoughts, attentive to patterns and trends and invested in scenarios. Somehow I should always be better. Everything around me diminishes to ordinary occurrence in my thirst for better. Nothing satisfies. And so my thoughts furiously sound. Accusations that rumble as thunder captivate me to where my thoughts, my actions, my mood, my present, my future, my dreams, my happiness, my plans, my accomplishments, my achievements, my strategies, my knowledge, my failure, my mistakes, my, my, my … oh my, is all that burns in the seat of my heart. This is the yield produced by mechanical thinking.

I wanted the start of this year to be different. Peace is what I promised my heart we’d find. To rediscover the beauty of life for all that it is, just as it is, were the terms. So far, my way has been that of circles.

There’s a scene in Shakespeare’s, King Lear, which captures a similar essence. Glouchester, owned by despair sprouted from his treating of life presumptuously, as if he could control it, as though life was and could be the effect of his cause. Instead, life flattened as did his joy, meaning, insight and understanding. As the drama persists, the despondent old earl asks to be lead to a cliff where he might put end to his life. And that he does try but fails. What does he see but hopelessness? What has eluded him? Miracle.

The son he banished, Edgar, in disguise as a stranger, serves his father as guide back to remembrance: “Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again. “

Miracle is what we tend to forget. Instead, life is mechanized into a transactional formula of do this, then that. There’s a problem here. We are not machines meant to achieve as our highest order of pursuit and effort. No, we are meant to live, to love, to grow and learn, and ultimately to treasure all of life. In our living we find what our hearts most long for – home. Home is not so much a place as a position of belonging. To be at home within our own skin and not overridden by anxious thought and corresponding reactive behavior is to live according to its intended design. Psalm 131 is a way home for me when I become disoriented by my living as a machine instead of a man. I am reminded to not make too much of my own life and its importance. “I make level and make quiet my soul,” sings the psalmist in his native tongue. Here in the silencing of my soul can I notice the beauty and miracle that life is and leave behind anxieties and troubles which can so easily betwixt, diminish and distract me from truly living.

This is all that I'm aiming to learn in the year ahead and beyond: to be still, satisfied and at home now, hopeful in tomorrow, but not there until there is here now.


(image: Abandoned Farmhouse, Indigo Sky Photography, licensed by CC 2.0)