Rarely are my days calm and restful. I would describe the vast majority of my days as hectic, demanding, with serious involvement in people’s life issues. Not just locally but around my nation and in other nations. The internet allows me to touch lives in many places without leaving home. Don’t get me wrong – I love every bit of what I do for the Lord, His people, and the lost who have yet to experience the love of God found only in Jesus. But it, at times, leaves me feeling exhausted. A favourite author of mine would describe it as a “fried-soul kind of day.” I am sure you can relate. It happens when you have a day where everything seems to go sideways from the moment you get out of bed.
Let me describe such a day…
There’s no milk, so there’s no cereal;, and you’re late anyways, so there’s no breakfast. You’re halfway to work when you realize you forgot your phone — and who can live without their phone these days — so you’re late to work because you went back and got your phone and now you’re behind on everything. People are tweaked at you. You can’t answer that urgent email someone keeps asking about, because you’re waiting for an answer yourself, but the person who has the answer took the morning off for a “doctor’s appointment” (Sure you did, you think, you’re out for a ride, you slouch). On it goes.
You look forward to lunch as your first chance to come up for air; but the line at your favourite taco joint is out the door, and though you should have stayed, you’re already well on your way to totally fried, so you leave in frustration, which only makes you skip lunch, which justifies your use of chocolate and caffeine to see you through the afternoon. But that completely takes your legs out from under you, and all you end up accomplishing is making a list of the things that you need to do, which overwhelms you. By the time you get home, you are serious fried.
Of course, I work from my home office and study (two separate rooms) but my days can be just as hectic and frustrating even if I don’t commute. I can end the day – and there are a few each week like this – strung out. I feel like I am sitting in a vat of frustration, cynicism, fatigue, and exhaustion. It is a dangerous place to be. Staying there will ruin the evening and impact how the next day goes as well. So, I go for a walk in the park around the corner from the house.
There is something about nature that allows me to unwind, refresh, reboot. But first I need to allow mother nature to touch me physically and emotionally. I listen to the crickets. The sunset is amazing as it lights the shy up with pastel reds, oranges, and yellows mixed into the background of gentle blues and white. I can feel my body and my soul beginning to relax. It’s like they are taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. I call these “Spirit sighs.” And I can feel my soul beginning to unwrinkled.
What is a “Spirit sigh?” It means your spirit is breathing in and recognizing the Spirit of God and you find yourself letting go of all the mess, letting go of everything. They are not cynical or defeated sighs; they are “letting it all go” sighs. My body relaxes, which makes me realize how tense I had been all day. My heart (spirit) starts to come to the surface, as it often does when I can get away into nature and let beauty and the subtle “stillness” touch my soul.
This happens best during my annual three week camping and kayaking trip where I get alone with God and nature (away from people) and simply let my heart and soul breath. An annual and lengthy ‘deep breathe.’ But it can be just as powerful at the end of ‘one of those days.’ It can happen sitting in my back yard watching a fire burn in the fire pit. It can happen on a slow and gentle walk on a warm summer evening or a brisk fall morning (like this morning when I am writing this). It is simply a time to reconnect to the eternal and letting go of the temporal – the every day rush of demands and details.
It is life changing and life giving.
But — and it is a big but – we need to learn how to overcome the desires of the flesh that will rise up large and powerful as your soul begins to unwrinkled.
More on that in Part Two tomorrow.