This is Summer {#40}

Wedding in a church,
look at all the people here;
celebrating love.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#39}

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Take a quick look up,
there’s peace, hope, grace, and beauty
it’s all there: just look!

~Natalia

This is Summer {#38}

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The best part about
building castles in the sand
is then smashing them!

~Natalia

Simple

Around this time last summer, I began shifting the ways that I interacted with people. As I went through my days, I tried my very best to interact with intentionality. When I remembered, and then with increasing frequency as I got in the habit, I listened with painstaking attention when I conversed with people. I worked to pull myself out of the spacey, sliding-through-life mode that I often operated under, and instead become truly mentally and emotionally involved in those around me.

I wasn’t perfect, but I was engaged and involved, and I grew through listening to those around me.

But then I went to school, and as first one semester then another skipped past, I pulled back. Slowly, as month after month went by, my focus on listening and truly being involved in my relationships and interactions waned. I still loved, still cared, still ached, but not with quite the edge that I had before.

I was less focused. More scattered. In the spinning table that was my life this past school year, being fully present in my interactions and friendships slipped to the back, while turning in homework assignments on time and scrambling to keep my life together came to the foreground.

Being present, being involved, communicating fully, was hard and draining, and I believe I burned myself out. To be honest, I don’t miss the strain of working to remain open, fighting to keep my own heart open, for the sake of interacting with others.

I don’t miss that, but I do miss the focus, the purposefulness of so many of my interactions last year. I don’t like the floating, skimming-across-the-surface sense that I’ve been feeling lately. I don’t like feeling like I’m sliding across a slippery grass field in my relationships. I want to dig my hands into the grass and hold on to those relationships.

I’m rooted in Christ. I can stand on the side of the pool, sit in the living room, drive down the road, and let my mind reel over what God has done for me and how He has poured out too many good things on my life. My hands are too small to hold everything that He’s given me, and I want to open my hands and dump some of those gifts on those I interact with.

His grace. Mercy. Love. Joy. Peace. Contentment.

But I can’t do that if I’m not truly there, not truly with, not truly interacting.

So, what’s to be done? How does one infuse purpose and intentionality into one’s own life?

I have a sneaking suspicion, a vague feeling, that the answer lies somewhere in the simple. I’m beginning to realize that I might have too much in my life that takes away from the real, living breathing, hurting, laughing, beautiful relationships that are right in front of me. There are too many superfluous things, distractions, websites, tasks that I pour myself into, leaving only a thin layer of energy, love, care for the souls I encounter day after day.

For the first time in my life, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that my life, my mind, my heart need to be more simple.

And with that simple, maybe I’ll find the purpose, the intentionality, that I know I’m missing.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#37}

Little ones sitting
in the backseat all ready
for an adventure!

~Natalia

This is Summer {#36}

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Going to work with
a friend is an adventure;
I always have fun.

~Natalia

Content

We were standing in the back room at the pool, leaning against coolers filled with water and Gatorade, balancing paper dinner plates and plastic silverware. I hadn’t seen her in a while and was excited to be catch up with her briefly. As we munched on our dinner, we swapped questions back and forth.

She asked me about the end of the school year and my summer plans, laying down broad, open-ended questions like a wide road that I could walk down any way I desired. I thought for a moment or two, considering how best to encapsulate my life in a response.

Honestly Rachel, I told her, my summer is off to a really great start, and I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. I’m also really excited to go back to school and be there again. I guess I’m starting to realize that if you’re happy where you are, and you have things to look forward to, well, you have it pretty good.

Smiling broadly, her blue eyes wide, she looked at me for a moment or two before responding. You know that’s contentment, right? She finally asked, chuckling a little as she said it.

And she was right. This summer has been a content summer. I’ve relished being in the moment, living with my family, spending time with grandparents, traveling first to Mancelona, then to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I soaked up the week spent with my cousins, taking mental snapshots as the week whizzed by. I’m happy now.

And I’m also looking forward. Forward to the next week, the next week, the next month. I’m looking forward to the 4th of July, to three weeks in Mexico, to going back to school.

Happy now, happy then; content.

~Natalia

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