I’d climb the mountain with my Bible and water bottled strapped on, eager to get to an ideal meeting place with God. To go up on a mountain and pray as Jesus did somehow always made me feel closer to him. These hikes up Camelback mountain in the Scottsdale/Phoneix area when I lived there in the 90’s was a favorite way to spend a day off. Once a secluded but sun drenched spot was located I’d take a break and determine to take it all in. My mental roster began to kick in with my usual questions.
What do I see? Gorgeous rocks painted with beautiful bronze colors, creatively made cacti and crevices, mountaintops and valleys amidst blue skies, white clouds and other people who had set out to reach the top as well. What did I hear? The wind whispering in my ear, the birds singing, planes and dogs in the distance connecting both heaven and earth. What did I feel? The sunshine softly kissing my skin, the wind washing over my frame, the joy and peace flooding my soul.
I’ve tried to live by this, by a conviction to encode and engage, despite how hectic and fast paced things can get. Sadly, I have to admit, this practice has sometimes gotten away from me. Though nine times out of ten I will still, literally, stop and smell the roses at Mariano’s supermarket before zipping by to knock all the items off my grocery list, I’ve let Chicago’s city pace rob me of some important pleasures in life.
A few years ago I wrote a play entitled “Through My Eyes.” The inspiration behind the title was a desire to see each other through God’s eyes and share the importance of that. As he sees us, we are precious, valued, victorious and deeply loved, regardless of our fleshly failures. When someone is not walking in that knowledge, it’s hard to function in fullness and confidence. When lack, insecurity and fear sets in, actions reflect that. When we see someone acting out of their hurt, their negative environmental influences or their anger, our flesh wants to quickly see and judge their flesh, their actions. But they are not their actions. When someone who has yet to discover they are a Son or Daughter of a most high God, called and purposed to do greater things than he, they may not be operating in such a way that is reflective of his goodness, grace and glory. We all miss that sometimes, even if we do know who we are called and created to be. But whether we can accurately see our or their greatness within yet, if we will choose to see past less than heavenly actions, we free all of us to access heaven on earth. Redemption draws near. Now, I’m not saying we turn a blind eye to harmful, destructive behavior. Certain situations must be approached with great wisdom, prayer and understanding, but seeing and speaking into someone’s life the positive things they can do (or believing it for our own life), is a Seer’s privilege and a receiver’s delight.
The art of listening is not only one that can feed your soul when out in nature, it can build your intellect, sharpen your business skills, win you academy awards and bless the one trying to share something. Really listening can make the forgotten feel loved, the neglected feel valued and the hurting heal. I have a dear friend who’s gaze is so set on me when we catch up that I have no doubt of her genuine concern for truly hearing the latest in my life’s journey. She is truly partaking of my journey and there is always something so special about our times together. I’m certain her full focus and dogmatic intent to be nowhere but in that moment with me is a large reason why we enjoy such sweet fellowship. Though active listening was part of my curriculum as a well schooled Actor, I’ve much to learn from her.
The brave choice to feel deeply is one that will not be without risk or reward. The Savior felt so much compassion for the sick, the hurting, the bound and the lost that he chose to die for us. He risked it all for the joy (the reward) set before him and endured the cross. He gives us free will, so there was and is no telling whom would (or yet will) choose to believe and receive him as their personal, literal, saving grace. But still, he has gained an entire family which has been growing exponentially for over 2000 years. The sacrifice he made has been rewarded with the love of countless millions. Love is all he or any other Daddy is really looking for. Though many rejected him, many more have loved and received him. His risk was greatly rewarded. As we take steps to choose to feel, to love, to risk opening our hearts to another, without any expectations of what we might get in return, there is undoubtedly risk. However, the reward is a much richer life. Some of the most treasured relationships I have are the ones that challenged my unconditional love to the core at first, but now, they are incredibly fulfilling and mutually rewarding relationships.
To take in all that is happening around us, despite the race that awaits, is something we must determine to include in our daily routine. Watching that bird soar against the backdrop of a big blue sky or allowing the sweet aroma of roses to fill your nostrils as you pass the beautiful bouquets in the grocery store is a simple pleasure we ought not to pass up. Beauty is all around, whether out in nature or not. Why rush to the freezer section when beauty is waiting to woo you? Choosing to see and believe the best in and for others brings forth blessings all around. Again, beauty awaits. As we strive to perfect the pace of our race, let us run and not grow weary, walk and not faint, but also, slow it down enough to enjoy life and those we do life with a bit more. So, what do you see? What do you feel and what do you hear right now? Perfecting the pace of our race takes practice and there is no time like the present.