Reality Reflection: The Setting Sun

This week I’ve been thinking about changes and happened to see a beautiful setting sun.  We all have seasons where the sun sets on parts of our lives.  Sometimes it’s the death of a family member or close friend, sometimes it’s a job or career change, sometimes it’s a new place to live and other times it’s smaller like the end of a brand or product we loved.  The transition time isn’t something we do well with or enjoy all the time.  Endings and partings aren’t things we always enjoy either, and they can be difficult and painful, and sometimes confusing especially if you weren’t expecting it.

Some of us get stuck in the change and transition process, others of us can’t let go of the past, and some of us are so busy moving forward that we don’t grieve and let go of the past.  I think in most cases it’s important to take time to remember the past, work through the transition and move forward.  I don’t think we should skip any of these steps, whether our past was bad or good.  Learning from a bad past is helpful, but it’s also important to take time to cement the memories of the good things you have had or experienced.  Yes, life is about moving forward and living to the fullest, but part of that fullness is the past that has brought you to this point.

This weekend, this summer, I encourage you to take time to enjoy the setting sun as well as the rising sun.  With the late summer nights and early summer mornings there are lots of opportunities to see the sun and remember it as part of your life.  I remember lots of trips as a child where we would watch the rising or setting sun while driving and a few thunderstorms too.  Those are treasured memories from my childhood and I am thankful for them.  Choose to find the beauty in the endings in your life this summer, not just the joy in the future or relief of leaving the past.

Enjoy the Summer

I’m not the type of person who likes to rush too many things.  I love the speedy internet and not waiting hours for things to cook but the older I get the more I appreciate the value of each and every day we have, especially when it comes to summer.  I love the long daylight hours, the warm nights and hot days.  I love seeing the bright blue sky and beaming sun just about every day.  I love growing fresh vegetables and herbs outside my back door.  I don’t look forward to fall because that means snow and cold weather are coming soon.

So I’m learning to appreciate taking my time, the time that it takes things to happen and the gift of each and every day we have.  Summer makes me want to live life to the fullest and appreciate all of nature around me.  Summer encourages get-togethers with family and friends, from BBQ’s to clam bakes with fun games, activities and drinks.  Summer makes me want to live because that’s what I see going on in the world around me.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to rush just because I’m inspired to live.  I’m still going to take my time to do things right the first time, smell the roses, pet the puppies, draw with chalk with the kids, take late night walks with my partner, watch the stars come out, read books, learn from others who know things I don’t and even take time to just sit and watch the world go by.

There’s a time and place for everything, and even if you could rush it, you really shouldn’t. There are lots of things in the here and now that would benefit from your attention.

“Time is nature’s way to keep everything from happening at once.”  John Archibald Wheeler

A Summer of Celebration

Today is the summer solstice.  It’s a day of celebrating the summer ahead, reflecting on the seasons past and celebrating being alive and having the sun to warm and feed us. Many groups of people take time on days like the solstice to stop and reflect or have a practice or something they say to honor the transition, and it got me thinking about taking time to thank and honor God.  So today I thought I would share a few verses to inspire and encourage you to recognize God’s presence in your day to day life and in larger moments like the solstice.

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

“Sing praises to God and to his name!  Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”  Psalm 68:4-5

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”  Psalm 19:1-2

“O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens…When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”  Psalm 8:1, 3-4

“Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp.  He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.  He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry.  He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  Psalm 147:7-11

I encourage you to look and see where God is working this summer.  Don’t give up hope because it seems like all you see is sorrow and hate.  And if you can’t see God working, maybe He’s waiting for you to do something to share some joy and sunshine with someone.

A Seasonal Solstice

In our discussion about seasons this month I’ve been thinking about what’s coming up on Monday, the summer solstice.  The summer solstice is when several things happen.  First, we get the longest day of the year, in other words the day with the most light.  The second thing is that the summer solstice is the day that the sun appears highest in the sky.  Third, it’s the official start to summer.  Finally, the solstice is when the sun actually comes to a stop and reverses direction so the seasons change.  Cool right?

In some ways the summer solstice is a day of celebration for me, because it marks the official beginning of the summer months and means lots of warm and sunny days.  But it’s also a reminder that we’re heading back towards winter, with cold days and dark nights, which is not my favorite season.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).  If I know anything, it’s that we all need some sun and light in our lives and how important it is to take time for reflection.  No, it’s not healthy to be out in the sun day in and day out without protection because of the likelihood of getting cancer(s), but there are lots of important aspects to sunlight that are essential for our health and well-being, and can’t be ignored.  It’s one reason that seasonal affective disorder exists, because most of us can’t live without sunlight.

Summer is a great time to get out early or stay out late and do some meditating and reflecting, or just relaxing and slow down from your usually busy schedule.  If the sun, which keeps all of us alive, makes it a point to stop every 6 months, I believe we can all find the time at least weekly to stop and just take a break.  I’m ready to enjoy the solstice and the summer, are you?

Inspirations of Summer

Summer has officially arrived this week and I’m super excited.  It’s my favorite season despite the extra sweat, early rising of the sun and massive growth of weeds to pull.  I love not needing to walk out of the house wrapped in layers, being able to take a walk after dinner without a jacket or flashlight, the feel of the sun on my skin, the smell of a summer thunderstorm, visiting the beach and watching the waves, people being a little more laid back and patient, less traffic in the mornings because schools are closed and a hundred other reasons.  Summer reminds each of us that there’s more to life than work and that it’s good to take a break.  So this summer my challenge for you is two fold: do lots of exploring and get lots of rest.  They may seem at odds, but really they work very well together.

Growing up I read from the history books and heard about far-off lands.  With the internet and airplanes today they’ve become practically our back yards, rather than something you had to have lots of money to do or could only read about them as they were in the past. But there are lots of places to explore even in our backyards and within a day or two driving distance.  Get out there and explore the world, stop limiting yourself to the little corner of the world you see day in and day out.  Until you’ve been there, seen it, and lived it you won’t know what you’re missing out on, and I guarantee that you are missing out.

The second thing summer inspires is lazy days.  This means kicking back with a book, watching the world go by in a park, meditating, doing yoga, taking a casual walk, catching up on sleep, hanging with family or friends around the yard or pool with a cool drink, playing water games with your kids, late date nights with your partner and quiet times to consider your life and future.  It’s not bad to take time off, we used to be consistent about taking at least one day off each week, and most of us were off the whole weekend.  Now every day is packed with activities and work, and we don’t give our bodies and minds the rest they need to function fully.

So this summer, give in to the temptation to explore and chill out.  It might just be your best summer yet!

“I am Summer, come to lure you away from your computer… come dance on my fresh grass, dig your toes into my beaches.”  Oriana Green

Exploring Our World

Summer is a season during which we spend a lot of time outdoors, the National Parks and States put forward a big effort to get people to vacation there, and with all the American holidays between the end of May and beginning of July we think a lot about the great land we live in.  June 5th was World Environment Day, so today I wanted to share some thoughts about exploring and the great world we live in.

For the past few months I’ve been watching the live videos at explore.org. For a while they had some up from Africa and you could see the real non-zoo animals hanging out at watering holes and just walking around as they carry on their lives. Many of the feeds share about new life like puppies, birds hatching and the amazing cycle of life that we’re part of as humans. I get so excited to see the penguins moving the eggs, hummingbirds being fed and puppies being crazy and playing with each other because that’s not life for most of us, we’re in offices or homes and it’s just not our reality to experience these things on a daily basis and see how they grow.

It’s easy to forget that there’s a big world out there when we spend so much time in our concrete jungles and behind our computer screens, which is why some of us struggle so much with understanding or accepting climate change and the serious issues facing our world and environment today. We only are forced to face it when dealing with natural disasters that destroy homes or knock out power and internet access which screws up our perfect worlds or when something really big happens that decimates a species or impacts a large number of people visibly. So we have yet to come to the true realization and acceptance of the need for the natural world and how we affect it each day.

My challenge to you is to explore this summer. Explore your corner of the world, explore the websites of places like Yellowstone, Arches National Park and Cape Lookout National Seashore if you can’t get there, and make sure to include some wild and natural destinations in your vacations and travels this summer. Your kids may think it’s boring now, but looking back on them years later they’ll be able to appreciate the whole other world that we share this planet with that you shared with them, hopefully not for the last time.

“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” Aldo Leopold

Seeking Abundance

A topic I think about from time to time, and especially with summer just around the corner is abundance. This month we’ll be talking about learning to let go. Letting go is a big part of gaining our freedom, as we become freed from that which holds us back. Sometimes we are able to experience abundance by gathering as much as possible to us, but all too often we find that in gathering to ourselves we’ve actually blocked ourselves from true abundance. So today I wanted to discuss 2 aspects of true abundance.

Abundance starts with God. If we don’t believe that we live in an abundant universe and that God is an abundant and unlimited God, we’re starting off with a very limited prospective life. Seriously, if you don’t think God can have anything or everything and that the universe is limited, how much more limited are the little people trying to eke out an existence day in and day out?

The second aspect of abundance is our daily lives. Abundance is found in how we treat ourselves, how we treat others and in how we approach the problems and challenges we face. No, most of us won’t rule the earth or have unlimited resources. But I do believe that most of us have the power within us to have truly great and lasting relationships, jobs we love, families we’re excited to be with and more than enough resources to meet our needs.

Abundance is first and foremost a perspective. If you don’t believe that we live in an abundant world that will most likely be your experience. But if you are open to seeing and experiencing the blessings of abundance, the world is yours to take.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”   Ephesians 3:20-21