I took a quick break this afternoon. One of the best parts of working from home is that I can go swing on my hammock, start laundry, or snuggle my dog for a few minutes when I need a break from work. Today, I was in the hammock with a cup of tea, reading the first chapter of a new book because I needed a short mental break.
After I finished that chapter (I read fast and it was a short chapter), I was laying there talking to God for a few moments and I was listening for my fountain. If you’ve been following my blog or SoulShapers the last few weeks, you know that I’ve been talking a lot about gardening next to my patio. One of the new spaces includes a small fountain in a zen garden area.
I couldn’t find a fountain I liked (that I could afford), so I bought an inexpensive bamboo fountain and a cheap metal pot. Voila, my new water feature was born! We love it. The only problem is that it’s too quiet! I haven’t replaced the evaporated water this week and we’ve learned that the farther the water drops from the bamboo, the louder the sound. Now we can hear it from the opposite side of the patio where I was swinging. Well, usually, I can.
If you live in a city, you may not notice the city sounds. They might be soothing background noise to you. But if I visit the city, I hear a clamoring, clashing, cacophony. A man-made jumble of jarring noise. That’s because I’m used to country sounds. As I was relaxing on the hammock this afternoon, I realized I couldn’t hear the water fountain because the backyard summer sounds were so loud. The bug symphony, the lawnmower on the next ridge over, and the birds were drowning the fountain out.
If I listened really intently, I could sometimes hear the gurgling water. When I got up from my hammock and walked toward the fountain, I could begin to hear it more easily. When I sat on a chair nearby and focused, I thoroughly enjoyed the sound of the splashing water.
When I visited Guatemala this summer, I had several conversations with Will Boegel, founder of Opal House, the organization we were there to serve, that kept returning to the theme of distractions. When he and his wife, Diane, moved to Guatemala, they immediately eliminated most of the distractions from their lives. He told me repeatedly that they find it so much easier to hear God because they are free of so much of what held their lives hostage in the States. I’ve been thinking about that a lot since I’ve returned.
Our lives are very, very full. Full of activities, full of worries, full of stuff, full of responsibilities. full of motion and noise. Full of distractions. Good things are just as distracting as bad things. The weight and pull of our lives constantly drag against our soul. As I think about the level of distraction and fragmentation in my life, I’m scared.
I believe we don’t have any real comprehension of the spiritual weight we’re dragging around with us on a normal day. It’s been building up gradually our whole lives and we’re used to the burden. If you’ve ever purged a closet or a room and felt instantly lighter, you have a glimmer of what I’m talking about, but on a spiritual level.
It’s not just that we’re used to the soul-drag. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. What would our lives look like with significantly fewer distractions? We have no idea. And that’s enough to keep most of us choosing to stay weighed down.
I don’t want to live like that anymore.
I can’t make a drastic change like moving to Guatemala, at least not right now! But, as I think about how I make choices in the months and years to come, I’m going to do my best to reduce distractions.
It will require effort. It will require getting up from my comfortable hammock and moving closer to what I want the most. It will mean turning my attention away from the things that I’ve filled my life with and turning my attention toward the source of life.
I walked across the patio to be nearer the fountain in order to hear it more clearly over the other distracting noise of my backyard. The point isn’t to reduce distractions simply to be less distracted, though that’s a side benefit.
I want more of God.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8a)
Do you feel the weight of your life? Do you recognize the distraction overload? Do you want something different?