Archive for April, 2010

Stopping to Smell the Flowering Tree

I had a “stop and smell the roses” moment yesterday. No, really. They weren’t roses, but gorgeous fragrant flowers on a West London tree. I was rushing off to the Tube station, smiled as I noticed their perfume, and kept walking.

But then I stopped.

As a practical matter, I stopped to pull out my BlackBerry and snap this photo as I felt like there was something I could blog about. But it made me think about the importance of stopping. I could smell the flowers just fine, thank you, while I was on the move. I could see them, appreciate their beauty, smile in response, and allow them to add something to my day.

But then I stopped.

When I stopped, I thought about why I stopped; why the flowers meant something to me. In that moment, I was overcome with a huge rush of gratitude: for spring, for where I am in this season, for the ridiculous and frivolous beauty that God has added to the world (we don’t need flowering trees, do we?). Stopping made me grateful. And being grateful gave me hope that there is more to be thankful for in the season to come. And then I kept moving.

I turn 31 today. This year I’m going to stop more. I’d rather slow down and enjoy what’s before me than pass more territory that goes unappreciated.

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A Quiet Moment at the Louvre

Louvre

One would think that traveling around Europe for two months would offer ample opportunity for quiet reflection and deep thinking. I mean, what better venue than art museums in Paris for a creative type to find great inspiration?

Unfortunately, as is often the case, I’ve found the reality differs somewhat from the ideal. The days of travel, though filled with gorgeous art, become a race against the clock created by opening hours, train schedules, and—just as the flash of creativity is about to strike—an angry stomach reminding it’s time to find food.

But even when I can’t find (read: “don’t make,” and that’s a whole other conversation) time on the road to reflect, go back once I’ve come home. This photo, taken 20 minutes before closing time at the Louvre, helps me do that. A deep breath, a sip of tea, and eyes gently closed, I’m back here:

A pause from the mad rush of Paris to find a room, full of art yet void of people. Perfect Parisian spring light pours in the windows, and it falls on me like a blanket of peace. There is such intimacy in this room. I feel like the art here is mine and mine alone; a secret shared between me and its creators. A gift. But also an invitation. In this room, this quiet place, I hear a whisper telling me, “You belong here. You are welcome here. You can create, too. And I want to see it.”

I pause, I hear, I smile, and I know. I know it’s true. A moment of gratitude before the journey continues.

Why haven’t I been writing?

I suppose you can call it a back-handed compliment when a friend comments on your blog to say, “This is great. But what the hell have you been doing with yourself for the last month?” What have I been doing? Why haven’t I been writing?

I’m not sure. It’s not that I haven’t had “content.” This is a blog that purports to be about world and self discovery, and I’ve traveled many miles in both territories. Traveled, yes. But I don’t know that I’ve reached any clear destinations. Though the dream to relocate permanently to Europe looms larger than ever, I still lack the job and accompanying visa that will get me here. Self discovery is a similar journey. I’m on the road, destination unsure. But clearer than it was a couple months ago.

A very wise man once told me I need to get comfortable moving toward something even if I don’t know exactly where I’m going. He was encouraging me about stepping out as a writer, but it’s a good bit of advice for life in general. As I reflect on my month of radio silence, I think my next step is to get more comfortable talking about the process. Because, although I don’t know all the details, I am very confident of the things that really matter—my purpose, the God that created me for it, and the fact that I’m to love people well along the way.

That’s enough of a road map for me. I’ll keep you posted about the journey.


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