Category Archives: Deeper Sensation

kicking and kicking but going nowhere?

I’ve never been much of a flutter-kicker. More of an arm-stroker. But when the masters swim workout calls for 100m freestyle kick, well, you kick. And it feels like an eternity to the other end.

Some people seem to have the gift of flutter-kicking, propelling themselves along like a speed boat powered by an outboard motor. Me? I’m more of a putterer. Not for want of effort, mind you. I’ll churn up a wake like nobody’s business and go NOWHERE!

Which is a bit embarrassing, especially if the people who share your lane are either piling up behind you or catching you up and tugging on your feet so they can pass.

Fortunately, today I had my very own lane. So when the workout called for a 100 meter kick, I aimed my kick-board dutifully toward the opposite end of the pool and set off with a mighty push from the wall. Momentum is underrated when you’ve an entire pool ahead of you and a kick like mine.

Now, I’d like to say that today I surprised myself with my torpedo-like speed, but I did not. No, I was much more like the Little Engine That Could. In fact, at times it was only the changing colors on the lane rope that convinced me I was moving at all.

Four navy, three black. Four navy, three black. Four, three. Four. Three.

Isn’t that how days feel sometimes? Like we’re kicking and kicking and going nowhere? Funny how something as simple as a friendly lane rope — which really is going nowhere — can reassure us that we’re actually making forward progress. And that, in the end, is all we really need to know.

….kick on, my friends. Before we know it, we’ll be there.

The day God danced, too

It’s been raining for days and days and days. The sky gray with clouds. Puddles turning to ponds in the backyard. The bluebirds have sought shelter. Even the ducks swimming in the pond out back dart this way and that, pelted by the deluge that lessens then grows but just won’t give up.

I confess my mood falters with the growing gloom. Damp like the pages of the magazine that had the misfortune to be left outside on the screened in porch. When will it stop? When can I go outside? Where is the sun, the warmth, the inhale of clean breath I remember from a day so long ago?

Wait. What’s that? Could it be? It is! The glow of sunshine through the window. Throw open the shutters. Oh my goodness, run out in the yard, skip to the mailbox, spin in circles. Gather the whole 360. It has NEVER felt so good to be in a new day!!

Ahhh, I write on my chalk message board. Who can think of anything better to say?

Thank you, Thursday, for being gorgeous. Clear and sunny. Not a drop of humidity. Perfect temperature. As if this day was made strictly to my very own specifications.

… For a moment, I feel guilty for loving the day so much. I mean really, there are many days much like this in central Florida. There they awake to sunshine, yawn and go on about their business. Treating each day pretty much like the rest, one day indistinguishable, from the other. In the constancy, they are unaware of their good fortune. But today here in Virginia, I celebrate…

And then, for a glancing moment — really a split second — I look up in my reverie and wonder if this might be the way it happens up there in the heavens amongst the onlooking saints. That the day-by-day good-doers are applauded as one would a Florida day, unsurpassed but unsurprising, while the day-by-day sin-committers — the ones trudging through the driving rain, soaked to the skin, clouded over and covered in mud…

Oh, on that day! The day they see the light and turn their face to it, now THAT is a day like today. A run, skip and twirl kind of day. A day God dances in the driveway, too.

More than a view: the spiritual practice of noticing

Looking out from our back porch, a visitor to our new home once lamented, “Too bad they left those trees to spoil your view.” She was referring to a stand of three pines left as remnants of the thick foliage that once covered our lot.

Now, this is the view.

Plenty to take in. It is marvelous, show-stopping, in fact. And by my account, it is not at all spoiled by the trees. Actually, it’s enhanced by the them. Yes, because they add color, texture and dimension, but also because they form a frame for my daily animation. They provide branches for the bluebirds to perch on and peck at, a stage from which the cardinals often sing, a scurrying course for the squirrels at play and even an occasional roost for a resting heron.

Yes, very far from spoiling our view, the trees enhance it. No, I don’t have an unobstructed view of the lake and its backdrop, but I do have a close-up look at the natural world that’s before me. As if I am part of it as it proceeds. Not just a viewer, but a participant.

I confess that I did wonder whether there would come a time when I would pass by the view of the lake with little thought, as if it were simply a painting hanging in my hallway, just a thing to be shown off to visitors when they came over.

Perhaps, if it were just a view. But its more than just a view; it’s a scene. And more than just a scene, it’s a setting for the characters which take the stage each day in my backyard. For goodness sake, it’s live theater! …with an unseen crew who regularly adjusts lighting and weather conditions, not to mention welcoming seasonal color changes in delightful hues.

My view is so much more than something to look at. It’s a marvel to appreciate. The shimmer of sun off the still water. Quivering reflections after the wind disturbs the surface. The overlapping V’s in the wake of happy mallards paddling smartly along and suddenly the startling splash of a diving osprey and then the wriggle of its prey as it carries it away.

Yes, animation calls to me. It insists I attend to it. Not just to see it, but to watch it unfold. The mind wanders and the imagination is piqued. What will happen next? It holds my interest in a way that no suspended moment ever has, however glorious. The view is constantly changing, and as I pay attention, so do I.

Isn’t it odd, this human tendency to seek the perfect, unobstructed view? To hurry past stragglers, shoving our way to the front to witness the spectacle everyone else says is worth seeing? And then to snap a photo in order to “capture the moment” forever.

But we can’t capture moments. We live them and, if we’re lucky, we live through them. As tempting as it may be to stay and enjoy the view, that’s not how the world works. Day follows day and we move with it.

We are not props on the day’s stage, but actors in the current scene in the performance of our lives. Our Creator is directing the play. This is such good news. In spite of our predilection for still life and snapshots, they don’t tell our whole story. They can’t as long as our view keeps changing.

How grateful I am for those pines that stand tall and proud and “in the way.” Instead of spoiling my view, they’ve expanded it.

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