I spent much of this week in Canada, near Toronto. It is an absolutely beautiful area: rolling green hills, with strands of purple and yellow wildflowers winding between the small lakes and tall trees. Autumn is gently taking stride; the trees wore bright yellow leaves, and every so often a deep red would highlight the season. Rounded stone walls surrounded the pitched steeples of old, yet still vibrant churches at many of the four way stop signs as we drove through the countryside. The square stone construction and arched stain glass windows of the churches reminded me of a time when days were filled with hard work on the family farm, and the nights with a fire, blanket, and a good book to end the day. Nostalgic memories of what were, or of what I envisioned it to be, filled my mind; and I freely let it pour in, drenching my subconscious with thoughts of all that was good, and filtering out anything that wasn’t.
Our car sped down the two lane Canadian road in metric time; the signs telling me in kilometers how much further until we reached the reality of the city, where grey concrete obscured the yellow of the trees, and red was the color of the light at intersections. The transition from the tranquility of the country, to the attempted beauty of the city was slow, like a small leak deflating a bicycle tire. Make no mistake, Toronto is an amazing city, with more to offer than most, but it cannot compare to the land that surrounds it.
Before I knew what was happening, my dream view out the car window had turned real, and that was alright, because at least I was able to dream for a few hours. At least I saw the colors, smelled the pine trees, and heard the John Deere riding lawnmower munching away at the green grass.
I like dreaming. I like to experience beautiful and different places and people. When you meet someone, or see something that just takes your breath away, it is like having a short vacation in the middle of the day. I could have spent the time in the car checking and answering e-mails, or performing some other business duty. I could have only talked business with my coworkers, ignoring our amazing surroundings; after all, it was still the middle of a work day. But I didn’t. I set aside my phone and IPad, and chose to immerse myself into the beauty of the moment, before the moment was lost.
As we move through life we are offered glimpses of, by our own standards, unnaturally superior beauty; sometimes in painful brevity, but often with sufficient time to take in the whole of the opportunity with decadently slow pleasure. Sometimes we can stare in amazement at the beauty before us as long as we desire. If you get the opportunity, do it, without reservation.
Like you, I work hard, and at the end of many days I wish for a few more hours so I can get just a little more done. We shouldn’t feel guilty for needing to work hard enough to accomplish our goals. Frankly, more people should act the same way. But, when we get an opportunity to experience a phenomenal person or place, we should leap with unbounded vigor. Take the ten minutes to see the sunset, or sunrise; watch the waterfall for more than a fleeting moment. Stop working in the yard long enough to enjoy it with your spouse. Watch the ducks as they migrate south; and the mist, as it floats above the delta sod.
It is so obvious for me to repeat what has been said many times before, “stop and smell the roses,” that I am pained to write the words. This week though, I did stop to see, touch, and smell the roses; and it was wonderful. At the same time, the magnificent experience of the moment was tainted by the remembrance of so many times when I did not stop and look. I am determined not to feel that remorse again.
From my perspective, Jesus was either in or He was out. He didn’t do anything half way. When He worked it was with enthusiasm and conviction. When he prayed, the intensity was so immediate that tears poured from His face. And, when He stopped to pay homage to a sunset, or a blossom, He lingered in the moment, thanking His Father for the gift. It’s time we learned to do the same. The view can be breathtaking.
Thanks for reading.