What's It All About?

It's all too easy for days to pass without reflection. It's my hope that through a greater active awareness on each day, that I will be able to consider God's presence in my life and in the world around me. Writing has always been a way for me to round up my thoughts. This blog seems like a good place to park those thoughts for my own benefit as well as the benefit of others. Please take a moment to read what I have written, to offer comments, and to share the ideas with others.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Simple Reminders

Lake Alpine

This week I had a few reminders that very often, less is more. The first reminder came in the form of the above photo. It is the image of one of my favorite places, Lake Alpine. I have only experienced that lake during the summer when it is green and lush. The lake has a lot of water in it, there are beautiful low bushes and shrubs along with birds and trees. There is a lot to take in each time I visit. This time, however, everything was covered in snow. Familiar forms were reduced to unrecognizable mounds of white fluffy powder. The horizon line of the lake merged with the water's surface until I couldn't really tell where one ended and one began. The entire effect was one of simplicity and wholeness, reduced down from an environment that is normally complex and very detailed. Still beautiful but very different.

The next experience came in the shape of a realization. A small project that I have been working on came to fruition. During its making I struggled with many things: detail, purpose of the project, what types of things would be appealing to the widest audience and in general, my own varying levels of self esteem. At one point I realized that less would be more. It took some back and forth emails with the person who was helping me to be able to realize what I was doing wrong. My approach was too complex and his input helped to reign in my focus. The project has been completed and I feel it is a good effort.

Lastly, I observed someone composing a small and informal photo shoot of my work. I watched him arrange and rearrange the various objects. He kept things so simple, his experience telling him almost right away what was needed for the perfect arrangement. Oh, if only my own efforts were always so effortless! 

I really did learn something from all three events: the simple beauty of a winter landscape has much in common with getting down to basics and the judicious use of mental editing. Each thing I experienced showed me that very often, less is more. And I relate that to how I want to experience God's hand in the world. I want to take notice of what seems to be ordinary or insignificant or just plain. I want to take in the simplicity of something and be appreciative of God's humble effort to please us. I do think that is what those places and moments and lessons are all about: it's God's effort to make us happy with His creations. His message to take notice of what might otherwise be passed up for lack of flash and hype. Pay attention to the basics and you will be amply rewarded.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Blessing of Awareness

Moonstone Beach-Cambria, CA
photo by Libby Fife
This morning, before I even opened my eyes, I had the most amazing revelation. It was such a clear thought first thing in the morning that I got up to write it down. For some time now, I have struggled with the question of why some people appear to be blessed and others do not. It's always troubled me since I have an innate sense of equality when it comes to the gifts that God bestows upon all of us. Why some people and not others? What could the reason be and can I know why? Can I really ever discern God's intent?

It occurred to me that I have been looking at things in the wrong way. Being blessed isn't necessarily having something or being someplace special. It isn't a material thing. It's something that the majority of us can have, can obtain, regardless of our situations. I came to the conclusion that being blessed is being in a state of awareness. Not just cultivating a sense of appreciation either (though that helps) but physically being aware of what is around you, what is happening, and how those things bring you comfort and joy. It's an inclusive rather than exclusive definition of the word. And I can apply the idea across the board, can apply it to nearly all people regardless of their circumstances. I can imagine someone who maybe has very little believing that they are blessed in some way because frankly, they believe it. I wouldn't question that belief at all. 

The only thing that gives me pause is the idea that maybe I might be trying to justify my own situation. Could I still feel this way if everything was taken from me? I hope so but I am not sure. I know that there have been instances in my own life that have been less than optimal. During some of those times I have felt grateful and during some of the other times I have just felt bad for myself. Time passing though has helped me to see that I came out of the experience and things are fine. 

I include the above photo of the ocean because of how I felt that day when I took the picture. It was amazing to me that the ocean was there. I hadn't seen it in quite awhile. I felt blessed and lucky to be standing there as a witness to such a phenomenon. And it's that awareness that makes me feel blessed. Not the ocean itself per se but the fact that I could see it, take in its beauty, and be cognizant of the fact that it made me happy. What a gift all the way round.