Thursday, September 27, 2007

Season's Rhythm

My daily life has a new rhythm and I am not sure what I think about it. The biggest change is that I have enrolled in adventure boot camp for the next four weeks. As I sit here at day four, finding new muscles each time I move, I wonder what I am doing. My body screams pain right now, but in the early morning (Camp begins at 5:30 a.m.) I begin to feel new strength, endurance and vitality as I push through bicep curls and obstacle courses. It is a surreal experience as we gather in the dark and fog, do our thing and return home before sunrise.

I am exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. I find, however, that my brain is not so engaged once I return home to try and read or write as I normally do in the morning. It is hard to think of God when muscles beg to be the center of attention. I have thought a bit about the Ascetics, particularly those who practice self-mortification. In my current state it really seems counterintuitive that bringing more pain to the body could bring you closer to God. It certainly removes thoughts about the rest of the world, but as I said earlier, I find it difficult to settle in and rest with God when my body yells, “take care of me.” I realize, of course, that a strenuous exercise program is not necessarily the same as a strict ascetic practice, but once the blood does flow back into my brain, I can’t help but ponder thoughts such as these.

Today, however, as I returned from taking my children to their respective schools I was compell-
ingly drawn toward the aesthetic beauty of the sunflowers pictured here. They gleamed with their brilliance from a neighborhood community garden. As I looked more closely, I saw that some had started to bow their heads as if in prayer while others lifted their faces toward the sun. Their rhythm was a reminder to me of my own rhythm…this new place I find myself as fall enters in with new work, school schedules and, of course, adventure boot camp. Will I raise my face toward the sun or gently bow my head and rest?

What are your rhythms as the seasons begin to change? Are you drawn to ascetic or aesthetic thoughts? Eugene Peterson speaks of the ascetic and aesthetic movements as being the “no and the yes that work together at the heart of spiritual theology.” I’d love to read your comments on this post.

photos by lucy

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

I love the picture of the sunflowers, some bowed and some with faces raised to the sun. That feels so like all of our lives and a metaphor I will keep with me as I navigate my days. Thanks!

Cheryl

Sue said...

I don't understand the whole pain = draws you closer to God thang either. I am almost over a two-month bout of tracheitis (infected windpipe), which has seen me almost the entire time with a strained muscle somewhere in my body that has come about through strenuous coughing.

The past two months haven't brought me closer to God. In fact, I have just been spending the past 10 minutes complaining and railing against the pain to him. I can't hear him the way I usually do. It must be a trust thing. But no, give me a sunflower any day. That I can understand. That makes me want to climb on Abba's lap.

Anonymous said...

Lucy!! Love your post!!! So appropriate in the week of the arrival of the autumnal equinox....the time when the northern and southern (opposite directions!) receive the same amount of sunlight, and day and night are of equal length!!! I love the lesson of the equinox which invites us to consider what we have harvested in our lives and how we have been transformed by our experiences. I love that this is a constant reminder that transformation and change are necessary for new growth and expansion. I love the picture of the sunflowers you posted....the looking inward to our center and then outward to our world, the swing of the pendulum.
"to Everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun; a time to be born, a time to die: a time to plant and a time to reap.... Ecclesiastes 3:1. Wonderful thoughts. Love, Pamela

lucy said...

thank you, cheryl, sue & pamela for your lovely and thoughtful remarks. i love seeing what resonates with each of you.

Tess said...

The boot camp sounds both terrifying and compelling. Look forward to hearing how the physical begins to mesh (or not) with the spiritual.

lucy said...

you know me, tess. terrifying and compelling go hand in hand more and more often.
it was really cool this morning as i ran my "timed mile" (ugh), i could feel god's presence and the strength coursing through my body. we'll see how the rest of the day goes.
(i may also be on a high because i have two days off from camp :-)

Gabrielle said...

Lucy, I don't know Eugene Peterson, but his thought sounds very similar to a Jesuit priest and writer, Fr. Wilkie Au (By Way of the Heart. Toward a Holistic Christian Spirituality). He writes that our relationship to the world must be both aesthetical and ascetical, the former so that we are free to say "yes" and take delight in God's glorious creation, and the latter so that we become free to say "no" to anything that is an obstacle to a deeper "yes" we desire to say to God.

lucy said...

gabrielle-thanks for the words/recommendation of Fr. Au...i may need to add that to my long list of compelling reading :-)