Monday, August 30, 2010

Time to Consider

"Let it Marinate or Let it Slide", Madrid, New Mexico

There seems to be something seasonally affective about summertime, when the call of the great outdoors tempers one's (well, my) writer's self-discipline. There always seems to be something necessary to do, some urgency about getting projects of one sort or another completed, that prevents me from taking the "down time" necessary to becoming more internally focussed.

Thinking, at least for me, requires a dedication of time. It has to be "pencilled in" on my virtual calendar, given a certainty of importance amongst a myriad of other distractions.

There was a story recently about mental downtime, and the positive affects upon one's brain and psyche from just letting go of the constant torrent of inputs; shutting off the radio, TV and Internet, for instance, just taking the time to immerse oneself within the inner life of cogitation.

I find this hard to do, sitting in a quiet spot, without mediated inputs, just thinking. The first thing I usually think about is The List. We all have our own personal version of The List, with which we pummel ourselves to the point of guilt over our mutual inattentiveness. We are trained from early age to maintain The List, onto which we begin to add, not only the usual assortment of school-age tasks and responsibilities but, later in life, all manner of other incomplete items of our daily lives, be they family, work or personal. The urgency of The List urges me to not "waste" the few precious moments I have out of my busy life to sit still and "do nothing."

The season of summer is fast waning into early autumn. One senses this in the tempering of the daytime heat, and the cool evening air, and the deep, deep blue of the late-summer's north sky, opposite the sun, that gains a richness of color unique to this time of year. It is in the autumn that I've found myself suddenly reawakening, as if from a long sleep, year after year in a regular cycle of summer's slumber followed by autumn's balmy renewal. Oh sure, it's most likely something psychological; certainly the cycle of nature suggests winter's impending eve to be when life goes dormant for a season, rather than reawakens.

Here in New Mexico, the autumn brings with it the year's best weather, the seasonal harvest, hunting season, the aroma of roasting green chiles and pinon firewood, and the color and whoosh of hot air balloons in the cold, early-morning air, before arctic storms blast the Southern Rockies for another bout of winter. This is a time to consider the value of each solitary moment as a priceless gift that cannot be horded away for another day, but must be spent here and now.

We are reminded in Scripture about the "still small voice" that consoles, advises, warns and comforts, if we would but take the time to listen. I wonder why this voice is "still small," especially given the caliber of spiritual walk the early disciples practiced. One would think they, of all people, would be especially attuned to the inner life, that over time the voice of The Spirit would be louder for them.

Perhaps the point is that the contemplative life one never fully arrives at, but instead it becomes a life-long journey of permanent seeking, asking, knocking, and especially listening.

I am reminded of that maxim from the 1960s, "tune in, turn on, drop out." My variation would go something like "drop everything, turn it all off, and tune in." I think this is good advice -- at least for me -- which I expect will be good (and tasty) medicine for the soul.

(Posted via Alphasmart Neo)


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