Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pondering Jane Fonda, Pandas, Rocks and Jesus on the Beach: or My California Vacation

I went on a choir tour to San Diego California with Lil' Mama.  

A week of music and beauty and excitement and REST!

While there, I spent some time in contemplation, and composed a letter to Jane Fonda.

Image result for jane fonda don't forget to breathe

Dear Jane,
I forgot to breathe.

It seems like a normal biological function, and someone once told me that if you hold your breath to the point of passing out, your body will automatically start breathing and revive you.  It's like the default position.  So how could I have forgotten?  (Especially after having so many 6th grade P.E. sessions with perky little Jane singing, "Don't forget to breathe!" in her body suit and leg-warmers.) I really don't like that lady, for more reasons than one.  But maybe she had a point.

These were some of my thoughts as I drew long, cleansing breaths; one after the other.  Laying on the beach.  Sand between..My...Toes.  In and out.  In and out.  Ahh.

And as I breathed, I was rejuvenated.  I could feel my life pulsing into my body, filling me to the tips of my fingers and toes.  

Then I stood and started walking.  On the beach.  As the sun set.  Oh, my beautiful life.

And as I pondered, and prayed gratefully, I realized that I had been wound up too tightly.  My thoughts abandoned Jane, and slipped easily to the source of all my joy.

And I remembered this, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 46:10 and Doctrine and Covenants 101:16)

I realized that all of my images of my Savior's life were pictures of peace, healing, love.  I know that He was exhausted. (He was sleeping in a storm on a ship.)  
I know that He accomplished a lot.  A LOT!  
Yet I believe that He was deliberate, mindfully aware of what was going on around him, and that He always did the most important things. He always did the will of the Father.  

Even in a mobbing crowd he was conscious of the woman who touched the hem of His robe.  He stopped to minister to the one.  He spent time in contemplation and prayer.  At a time of deep mourning he stopped to bless the children.

I'm trying to be like Jesus.

But my jaw gets stuck shut, and I can't settle down and sleep at night, and sometimes I get migraines.  Sometimes I realize at the the end of the day that I barely saw child X that day, and I panic that I may have missed something important. I beat myself up about the mistakes of the day.  Always I fall short.  And I read and study and repent and try and organize and serve and I am wound up too tightly.

And it dawned on me, that maybe I wasn't breathing enough.  That maybe I forgot to Be Still.  I think that my Heavenly Father wants me to remember.

A wise friend of mine has been striving to be more mindful.  I think this might be the word for me.  It's like the object lesson of the rocks and the jar.  If I want to fit all of the rocks into the jar, I must put the biggest ones in first, until at the end I can pour the remaining sand in and fill in the cracks.  

I am not wise enough on my own to identify the big rocks, and to strategically fill the jar.  I NEED the Holy Spirit to guide my day.  And He can't do that if I'm not listening.  And I can't hear Him unless I spend some time BEING STILL.

I am going to spend more time just breathing.  I will pray and ponder.  I will lean more on my Savior, and seek for help from the Holy Ghost. "Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy." (2nd Nephi 2:25) God wants me to be joyful, not stressed.

The next day, at the zoo, I searched out the famous panda exhibit.  It was a week-day, and the normally long lines were pretty short.  But still, it was a journey to get to the rare pandas, and once I got there, they were boring.  I never even glimpsed a face, as the one visible panda had turned his back to us and was dozing.  Not very thrilling.  
Some freaking genius came up with the idea that the zoo could recycle the fibrous panda poo and sell an overpriced keepsake bookmark in the gift shop made entirely of the stuff!  The very idea made me disproportionately ecstatic!  We needed some panda poo paper!

Pandas don't do much, but people travel and stand in line to see them.  They don't have to do anything, they're PANDAS!  Just being what they are is enough! Plus, you can make paper from their poo! Hey, kids!  I bought you a souvenir!

*God created me, and I am enough.

*Fun, lucrative stuff comes from creativity and thinking outside the box.

The most fascinating exhibit of the day  (in my opinion) was the pink flamingos.

Who knew that they made that hysterical sound?  And those poor baby chicks with their awkward big feet that would later become legs!  Fascinating.

God created the pandas and the flamingos.  There is a place in this world for all.  There is so much texture and variety!  I could study one feather from one flamingo or one hair of a panda for my entire lifetime and never learn everything there is to know about it--and I would never be able to exactly replicate either.

How amazing is this life!  

I think I've been spending too much time chasing my own tail.  

*I can't do everything, but I can do something.
*I can't learn everything, but I can keep learning.
*My life is in God's hands, and I can be His instrument.
*A frantic life is not a peaceful life.

Music fills my soul like nothing else.

The combined choir, orchestra and band performed that first day on the deck of the USS Midway, which we later toured for the rest of the afternoon.

*Countless people who came before me sacrificed that I might enjoy the very blessed life that I have.  I must remember and be grateful, and pay it forward for those to follow.

*I need more good music in my day.

As I viewed my first glimpse of the ocean for years, I thought I would burst with happiness! 
I couldn't stop repeating a quote from Sharon Creech's, "The Wanderer."
"The sea, the sea, the sea.  It rolled and rolled and called to me.  Come in, it said, come in."

What is it about the ocean that is so healing?

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the beach, and the Pandas, and the colors and textures and sounds and feelings!  Thank you for time off and friends and family and beauty.  Thank you for weeping with me in sorrow, carrying me through trials and rejoicing with me in good times!

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