Coffee making this morning.
A seventeen year ritual.
(Yikes. That's a long time!)
Wow. Time doesn't fly when there's nothing at all pressing to do. I've done about a million things today, I think, and it's just mid-morning. I like this!
I tried to sleep in this morning, but once my eyes popped open they stayed that way. So, I caught up in my Advent reader, prayed, thanked the Lord for His blessings, read my Bible, and climbed out of bed. By then it was 6:00 a.m.
While I lay in bed thinking and reading and praying and thanking God for His blessings, I thought of something that came up in my Judaism class. We were discussing brachots--the blessings Jews recite daily for just about everything they do. They have specific blessings for their food--for each food, a blessing for a rainbow, a blessing for seeing a friend for the first time in a while, blessings for everything--even the toilet! It is a way of being mindful and thankful. Brachots are reminders that, in busyness and distraction, we are not in control. They can remind us that we are blessed and that God is the giver of gifts. The rabbi who taught our class said more than 100 blessings can be given in a day. Wow. That is commitment. I may not recite 100 specific blessings in a day, but I can certainly lift my heart continually in gratitude to God and speak out blessings to those around me instead of holding my appreciation for them inside my heart.
On the other hand, I've also been thinking of the old Orthodox prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner." Like the brachot, this is another thing to be asserted often, at least in my life. When I am fearful or fretting or frustrated, it comes from wanting to control my life. It comes from looking for a sense of security that is derived from my own efforts and abilities. And this fails me every time. So, in the night, when I couldn't quiet my heart, I didn't pray "Lord, help me--please do something about this!" Instead, I prayed, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner," and I meant it, because fear and fretting is anti-faith. Peace does not come from circumstances that are momentarily calm and controlled. It comes from a heart that is yielded entirely to God, and my heart is too often revealed as not yet surrendered and at rest. This is a grace because it continually points me back round to Him. "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner." This is the real story of Advent: Jesus Christ came to earth to die for sinners, and now he extends His grace, mercy, and love to us when we call on Him.
"Silence shatters to pieces the mind's armor."
So, once I was out of bed this morning, I began to clean--the kind of clean that is motivated by eyes that have been opened. Much-to-do can clutter the mind and blind the eye, and this temporary blindness can be a grace when circumstances squeeze me, but when the blessing of ample time is given again, I begin to see the true state of my surroundings, and my heart begins to crave what is truly simple.
"Affected simplicity is refined imposture."
I'm not trying to practice voluntary--or involuntary--simplicity. I'm not determined to declutter. I'm not trying to shed materialism. This isn't about participation in any kind of simplicity movement or statement or conscious lifestyle. I just want simple. The kind that comes from way deep in my heart and I don't need or want to understand what or why. I just want to do it. So, I began to remove things from counters, shelves, and corners and put them in boxes to be given away or in cupboards to store. And now the ambience is becoming roomy and airy, and it feels so good. "All in order, sweet and lovely." (I'll keep quoting Blake on that til the end of my days.)
And then I made coffee in my French press, as I do as often as I can. And I used my favorite old round Polish pottery mug. The mug doesn't make me sad anymore. For a long time I didn't want to drink from it because it seemed connected to so much that was lost in my life. It was just like it was the year I was in a dark depression at Christmastime and someone gave me a CD of beautiful classical guitar music. To this day I cannot listen to that CD because it is so connected to that dark time. But the ache of recent years has faded (thank the Lord!), and the mug seems friendly again.
Yep. There it is in all its crazy, tacky, colorful glory!
And then I decided to put out a few Christmas things. Not much, though, because I'm not a gung-ho decorator. Or crafter. Point in case: I made a garland today. Sort of. I was putting a few ornaments in a pretty glass display bowl (because I'm not going to have a tree this year except for that ceramic one on my table), and I got the idea to string some of the ornaments on a line for a garland to hang across my kitchen window. All I could find was kitchen string, and I wasn't motivated to look for something better, so I decided to experiment with that string, and if I liked the garland, I'd change the string later to something more transparent or tasteful. So I quickly (that word--quickly--is a key trait to my crafting projects because I really am not Martha; I prefer to enlist my daughters' to make things for me) tied random ornaments (kinda sloppily) to that thick white piece of kitchen string and strung it across the window just to see if I will enjoy the look. Well, there it still hangs, and I'm pretty sure it's going to continue to hang there just as it is until Christmas is over. I'm sure I could look online and find some amazing ornament garland tutorials to follow, but I don't want to know about them. I'll just enjoy my rustic, simple, thrown-together garland. It is cheerful!
And now I will carry on with my day. Happy Saturday to you!