I am a farm girl.
I was raised in a farming community and deeply impacted by a farming mentality. I was taught to work hard, love God, be a good neighbor and take time to sit under a shade tree once in a while. I spent a good bit of my life planting a garden, walking a dirt road, and appreciating a pantry filled with the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables.
You can learn a lot about life in a farming community.
Besides learning the value of hard work, you also learn that life is a balance of seasons. Planning, working, waiting, and harvesting are all part and parcel of the rhythm of life on a farm.
As a young girl, I have many fond memories of my grandparents and the seasons of life. In the spring there was a garden to plan, baby chicks to order and ground to prepare. In the summer there was growth and production, long days and sweet summer nights filled with the music of crickets and late summer cicadas. In the fall, we harvested, canned, and prepared for the coming winter. And in the winter, I watched with amazement as my grandmother assembled her quilting frames and created a masterpiece of intricate stitches and swatches of fabric. Time, rhythm, and seasons.
Contemporary life doesn’t have many seasons.
In fact, most of the clients I see in my practice have only one season. Busy! From sun up to sundown, people exist in a never-ending cadence of busyness that is enough to exhaust both the mind and the body. With dad working a gazillion hours and mom doing likewise and the children following suit, there is simply no time for relational connection, intimacy, thoughtful consideration, emotional bonding or family time. As a society and a people…we are just too busy!
Too much doing and not enough being.
The cure for too much activity and doing is rest and being. For many people, however, even the thought of being alone with their thoughts and their feelings is enough to cause a jump in their anxiety level. The idea of mindfully meditating, daydreaming, and allowing one’s self to think deeply and abstractly is almost too much for most of us to handle. We would much rather grab a device and check our Instagram or Twitter account.
Mindful contemplation is an important, if not vital, aspect of emotional and mental health.
Without periods of deep thought and creative contemplation, our minds can become a cluttered, disorganized wasteland of intrusive and fearful thought processes. We can become uncomfortable in our own presence and forget that our relationship with ourselves is the gateway through which all of our other relationships are filtered. It is hard to receive love from God or others if we can’t love ourselves.
Scripture is filled with admonishments to take the time to think deeply.
“Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4).
“I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search” (Psalm 77:6).
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Meditation is another word for thinking, considering, imagining, constructing, and otherwise utilizing our mental capacities in a positive manner. To create, understand, learn, and reach conclusions. When you meditate, you help your mind find order and balance and a place of rest. Meditation is a contemplative state of being with one’s self and one’s thoughts. Not doing…being!
For those of you who recoil at the idea of sitting down with your self and your thoughts…you may be surprised that you already possess many of the attributes of good meditative thought. I know this because I know how many of you already know how to worry. If you can worry…you can meditate. If you can ruminate and continually roll negative thoughts around in your brain, you can certainly redirect those skill sets and learn to replace the negative thoughts with positive and creative ones. Meditation is the antithesis of worry…and so much more productive.
Cud chewing cows
The next time you take a drive to the country make sure you take the time to observe the rhythm of farm life. Notice the neatly planted rows of corn and beans. Notice the gardens heavy with produce and chicken yards full of hens and baby chicks. Notice the beauty of a summer sunset and especially notice that herd of cows lying under a shade tree slowly and methodically chewing their cud. Resting…and meditating…and chewing.
Meditative thought is a vital part of a balanced and restful life. Thinking deeply and allowing your creative mind to make connections and inspire new ventures are only a few of the attributes of taking the time to mull over the mysteries of life. It is also one of the best ways to hear from our Creator.
In times of anxiety, fatigue unhappiness, and discontent, you just might find that taking the time to chew your cut makes all the difference in how you feel about yourself and the world in which you live.
Grace and peace,