Tuesday, March 14, 2016, was a great day! Oh, I didn’t do anything special. I wasn’t on some romantic adventure or wandering off to exotic faraway places. I wasn’t hang gliding or zip lining or skydiving. Tuesday was quiet, but it was still a great day.
I woke up around 9:00 am. That is sleeping late for me. I used to wake up around seven every morning. But for the last six months, I had been working early morning hours. My workday starts at 4 am. So, staying in bed until 9:00 is a luxury. I stretched, stumbled out of bed, and quickly dressed. I left my room and walked through the quiet house. By now, my sister-in-law, Mary, was gone for the day. My brother, Tony, was already hard at work. Over the past few weeks, Tony has been diligently working in the backyard every day. He has been clearing away all of the brush and saplings that have collected and overgrown the fence line. A few days ago, I asked Tony why he was cutting all of the young trees away. He responded that there were too many of them. As I listened to him explain the situation to me, I was suddenly fascinated with the strength and determination inherent in all forces of nature. Tony told me that he didn’t plant any of the trees. The saplings were from acorns that had been blown by the wind or were dropped by the numerous squirrels running throughout the yard. The acorns had taken hold and grown roots deep into the soil which caused areas of the ground to buckle and cave.
“And look at this, Jamie,” Tony exclaimed as he pointed to several of the trees that were growing near the chain link fence. The trees were growing so full and strong that their trunks had grown around the fence; the saplings had made the metal a part of their overall existence. Metal had become embedded and absorbed by the wood. As the trees grew, they had started lifting the fence with the steel poles up out of the ground. Tony and Mary were concerned about the gaps at the bottom of the fence that were growing big enough for their three little dogs to slide through. I was amazed when Tony showed me this phenomenon. I guess nothing is stronger than every living thing’s natural inherent force to live, grow, and thrive.
I was amazed by the sight but still expressed some regret. “It is too bad, though, that the trees can’t just grow free. It’s sad that you have to cut them down.”
“Yeah,” Tony laughed, “now where are all of the little fairies going to live?”
I should have never told my brother that I believe in all magical and mystical things. I didn’t mean it quite that literally but he is forever teasing me now about fairies, pixies, and unicorns running through the backyard.
Now, Tuesday morning, I smiled as I stood by the back door and watched Tony working so hard to clear away the yard. I have always hated yard work. I don’t like working under the hot sun or the feel of pulling weeds out of the ground. But now, thinking about the information Tony shared with me, I slipped on my shoes and walked out the back door. Before long, I was working side by side with my brother clearing away all of the brush that could create a dangerous fire hazard. As we worked together, Tony and I shared stories, laughed, and teased. As I worked, I watched the three little dogs running around the yard and digging up holes. Every now and then, I would drop my gardening tools and chase them around in our own crazy, made up version of tag. The dogs didn’t always play fair, but that’s okay; it was only a game. The laughter and the playing made the work fun and enjoyable, and to my surprise, I suddenly found that I enjoyed yard work. I loved the feel of the damp soil in my hands and the solid ground beneath my feet. I loved working with the gardening tools and felt as if I was sculpting a more peaceful, danger -free environment. I loved being outside and breathing the fresh air and for once I didn’t mind at all feeling the sun beating against my skin.
Tony and I worked together on the yard for several hours and had cleared away one small section before finally coming to a stop. I felt flushed with the excitement of hard work and accomplishment.
After cleaning up and putting away the equipment, Tony and I grabbed a quick lunch together before he cleaned up and left for his job. In a peaceful frame of mind, I spent the rest of the day, cleaning and organizing, writing, and pampering the dogs, who continued to demand my attention. Once again, the dogs cuddled with me as we heard a bit of lazy thunder rolling around outside. A few cool raindrops hit the house and front porch. Little Starburst especially seemed anxious about the weather. While the other two dogs began to relax on their own, Starburst stayed right with me. She sat by my chair as I worked on the computer and refused to leave my side. I didn’t mind. I love bonding with the dogs and I’m always happy when they feel the need for my company.
Starburst was having an additional problem though. I noticed it when she finally got up and walked across the hardwood floor in the family room
“Starburst, what’s going on?” I asked her as if I really believed she would answer me. “You sound like your tap dancing.” Seriously, as she walked across the floor there was a continuous tap, tap, tap sound. I easily picked her small furry body up into my arms and looked at her paws. She had been out digging a small hole in the backyard earlier that morning and a tiny stone had gotten tangled up in the long hair around her right paw. I tried desperately to snatch the stone away from her, but she continually jerked away from me. Finally, I just cradled Starburst on my lap as I worked at the computer and waited for my sister-in-law to come home. Together, Mary and I cut the stone away from Starburst’s paw and, once more, the dog was quietly trooping around the house. I smiled as I watched her run and play with the other dogs. It really felt good to take care of another living creature even in a very small way.
After a pleasant conversation with Mary and working on my latest writing project, I finally settled down into bed. It had been such a pleasant day. I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t leave the house. But I could not ignore the sense of peace and contentment that filled me. And maybe that’s what counting blessings is really all about. It’s enjoying those peaceful quiet moments in life. It’s the ability to sit patiently and feel fulfilled. I don’t always have days like this. Many times, I am impatient for something to happen! But now, I need to remember in my most anxious moments, that true contentment comes from the inside. The ability to find bliss in quiet moments is a great gift. I will probably never find happiness outside myself if I am not at peace first. Just allowing life to happen without any preconceived notions is when I am always the happiest.
I fell into a contented sleep that night with my favorite Bible quote (Psalm 46:10) running through my head:
Be still and know that I am God (King James Bible)
Cease striving and know that I am God (New American Standard Bible)
Be still…something I rarely am but something I need to do more in my life. I look forward to more quiet and happy days. Be still… quiet days are filled with deep meaning and endless blessings …