It's the little things. I mean, the really little things. Joy resides in the little things. The things so small that we don't notice them unless we're looking, unless we're slowing down and keeping our eyes wide open. The very, very little things.
How little? Well, here's the crazy activity I found myself immersed in this evening.
The moon, round and brilliant, peeked through the one sliver of my bathroom window that was not covered by ice. I stood, brushing my teeth. I turned out the light. And the moonlight poured over me, bathed my mundane act of toothbrushing in the beauty of light sent from the burning ball of fire that we call the sun, bouncing off the stone-cold sphere we call the moon, and pouring into my humble bathroom, pouring over my upturned face. Bathing my toothbrushing in breathtaking beauty. I was taken off-guard -- my eyes unexpectedly opened to a gift and barely able to believe it was mine.
As I gazed at the moon, the simple and profound beauty of my whole bathroom began to seep into my soul--the humble bathroom took on a beauty that I had not, until that moment, slowed down enough to see. The gift of the moonlight woke me up. Before I knew it, I had turned the light back on and was snapping photos of my bathroom. That faucet--how exquisite! That white tile floor--what a delight! That stack of folded towels--how comforting! That ancient fixture on the cabinet door--what a symbol of constancy through the ages! (I did warn you that the activity was crazy, did I not?) And so there I was with the little things...the very, very little things. The very, very little things crammed full of joy.
I've just started All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. In the chapter I read this morning, Marie-Laure has recently gone blind and is spending time "in the laboratory of Dr. Geffard, an aging mollusk expert whose beard smells permanently of damp wool" (page 29). Without sight, she is finding new avenues of exploring her world, living life at a slower pace.
A Carinaria shell is simultaneously light and heavy, hard and soft, smooth and rough. The murex Dr. Geffard keeps on his desk can entertain her for a half hour, the hollow spines, the ridged whorls, the deep entrance; it's a forest of spikes and caves and textures; it's a kingdom. Her hands move ceaselessly, gathering, probing, testing.
"To really touch something...is to love it." This is worship, is it not? To slow down enough to touch, to taste, to see, to hear and smell the work of God, the master creator. To experience reality and find God's joy therein. "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good," says Psalm 34:8. I used to think this meant metaphorically. Now I view it quite literally. Let your five senses ground you in God's goodness. Taste, see, touch, hear, smell. Pay attention to what is happening in your five senses, in the present moment, and know the goodness of God.
My pastor recently said "to worship is to wake up to reality." He was right.
I am Irene Kraegel. I work as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based college campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
© Irene Kraegel 2014-2016
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