Posts Tagged ‘breathe slow’


image116I remember working at Youth Haven Ranch as a teenager.  Waking early to shower, and walking on my own to the giant red barn, a new addition to the campground since I’d attended as a camper.  The dew on the grass competing with the beauty of the steam rising out over the field in the distance.  The birds calling out to welcome anyone willing to rise early enough to wish them good morning.  Coffee was not yet in the vocabulary of my palette.

With difficulties at home, it meant the world to have the confidence of Kyle, Mike, Bob, Dave, Joe, Scott and the others.  These men who were leaders of the camp, placed me in oversight of the “Petting Farm” for the entire summer of 1998.  Each morning I’d rise early to great the midwestern Michigan beauty that exists as an island between streams of somewhere in the sprawling farmland, otherwise known as a “campground”.  I, neither “city kid” nor “country boy”, but rather a conglomerate of “raised by church-going single mother” and “growing up on a highway”, would open up the barn every morning.

Thomas Merton echoed the Psalmists who spoke of all creation having special knowledge of God, and an awareness of the divine.  The personified versions of these animals knew not only God, but could have significant discourse with me on passages of scripture, drama from home, or the latest girl counselor I might be crushing on that summer.  Norma, the cow, was particularly wise and would share her insight with me – providing I allowed her to escape to the grassy fields before Jack – the lone donkey.  As you might expect, he was little help anyways, always laughing when I’d ask his opinion.

The exuberance each animal met the dawn with, running out of their stalls to stretch, run, and snack, was equaled each week by new sets of young people – each eager to pretend for a week – that life was simple.  It was a campground for economically and socially disenfranchised kids.  Shedding the fear, the instability, and the harsh climates of home – by the 3rd day most kids understood they were safe and loved here.  The animals knew the same as I entered the barn each morning, to care for their stall and feed them.

I attempted to begin most mornings, once the animals had been let out and immediate needs cared for, soaking in the silence of the big red barn.  Breathing slow at the start of the day, I would go over the schedule of what groups would visit, and read some of the scripture from a recent message at the chapel times.   I was experiencing for an entire summer, what many of the children there tasted for only a week – the desirable simplicity of life.   To understand sabbath was less a day of the week, and more an invitation to rest and be content.

I want my kids to know that contentedness.  Shoot, I want the world to know that contentedness.  In my best moments today – I have it.  The contentment Mary and Joseph felt when they laid their firstborn son in an animal food-trough, surrounded by the sights and smells of the barn.  The breathing slow.  Not knowing what tomorrow might look like, but holding enough in this moment to outweigh any anxiety that may threaten to surface.

There is so much to hold in this moment.  You are beloved.  You are enough.  You are capable.  You are able to contribute to the lives of others.   Your smile can be a candle-light in the dark day of another.

There may be weeds growing – but there is so much wheat.

May you discover how it grows even today.


everything must be captured.

It could simply be that I’ve just finished reading “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, but the new Apple holiday ad strikes me as illustrating an important question: How much is “enough”?

I know it may come across as “bah, humbug”, because everyone seems to love this ad.

But I’m not a huge fan.

Many years ago, we’d have been happy to have one still-shot picture that reminded us of an entire day, perhaps even an entire trip.  Then digital cameras hit, and we have unlimited shots.  Then video became easier to fit on small storage, so we need to get lots of videos, etc.  Now most of our cell phones have the capability to do what complex digital cameras did years ago.

So the above ad illustrates what they hope will be a positive message.  “Don’t misinterpret that young man in the corner using his cell phone most of the trip, because he may actually be using it to put together a warm, heart-felt family collage that will touch your heart.”  Riiiiiight.  Even if the teens hiding in technology corners this holiday season have these things in mind……my question is, “Is it worth it?”

Many of us have attended “Holiday” events already this season, where we sit back to take in the show, only to have several tiny screens pop-up in front of us – as eager parents (myself included) try to capture some images/video of the precious moment.  The same goes for every event that happens throughout our days.  I think I’ve posted on this before, but it deserves to be thought of, as many of us head into precious family hours together.

Sure, snap some pictures.  Snap some video.  But don’t elevate capturing the moment for later to become more important than being 100% present in experiencing the moment right now.  Create more memories, and less photo-books.  Our Grandparents seem like far less anxious people for a reason – it’s not just because they’re old.  It’s because most of them grew up knowing how to be completely present in the moment.  Not able to capture every sight and sound, they were content to actually breathe slow and deep these moments of being together….or alone.

Not to romanticize being “technology-less”…the video of family the boy makes is pretty great, and will be meaningful for the family as the years pass.  But let’s notice what he sacrifices to make that video too.  May our children know we value experiencing moments with them, more than capturing those moments for later…

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