We’ve been graced with the presence of Venus and the crescent moon in the early morning skies this past week. Seeing the two shining brightly in the dark before the dawn created an aura of peace and intimacy for the soul despite being wakened by screeching raccoons between 2:30 AM and 3:30 AM two days in a row. Though I personally was not in the mood to go investigate the noise, my dogs Sadie and Leo, insisted, barking and running around in circles.
Benefits of Being Bugged
After turning on the lights to make sure no raccoons were in sight, I let the dogs out and walked across the sidewalk toward the garage. Looking to the east, I saw the bright star and the crescent moon just above the horizon. Of course, the eight year old inside of me got all excited and insisted on running back inside the house to grab the camera and take pictures.
So, there I stood at 3:30 AM snapping shots of the sky while most normal people were getting their required sleep. As I did this, I contemplated how there are times in life when we have opportunities, but are reluctant to take them because of timing or inconvenience. While I know it would have been beneficial to be sleeping, something in the experience sent a shot of adrenaline through me, reassuring me of my choice to spend a few moments with nature and God.
As we came back inside, I felt thankful that the dogs had insisted on checking out the noise. Had they not bugged me to be let out, I would have missed a very special opportunity to see the wonders of the skies and experience God’s peace.
Tugging at Time
This experience also made me realize that there are times in life when what we feel we should be doing with our time does not match what we are able to do with our time. We have “priorities and obligations” as well as “responsibilities and commitments” that we offer as excuses. In reality, we have a conflict of heart and mind, body and soul that has the potential to drive us insane and cause undue stress.
While it is important to take time to do certain things, it is equally important to realize that time is a unit of measure which allows us opportunities. If we rush through time simply trying to cross items off of our to-do lists, we are not fulfilled. If we take too much time to do something, we become stressed with what we deem as a “lack of progress” in our minds.
Perhaps the following quotes offer some good food for thought when it comes to time:
“No great thing is created suddenly.” –Epictetus
“Whenever you take a step forward, you are bound to disturb something.” – Indira Gandhi
Weeding Through the Moments
In addition to Venus and the crescent moon, humidity has made its presence known this past week. With morning temperatures in the 70-75°F range and daytime highs in the 80-85°F range, the added humidity has made running a biking without becoming dehydrated quite a challenge. Not one to be deterred, I have altered my routine on some days to try to take advantage of cooler morning air.
While running along my route, I noticed the weeds have shot up about 6 inches in just a few days. The humidity, intense heat, and hazy skies provide a natural green house for such growth. Returning home, I found weeds popping up in the driveway, landscape beds, and garden, much to my chagrin. While I don’t mind weeding, I don’t always have the time required to do the task. However, I do have a very anal side that diligently tries to keep up with the weeds.
So, despite working long days, trying to do all the normal chores, and still find time for the dogs, running, and biking, I found myself spending the better part of the past few evenings weeding. As I tugged at the weeds, I contemplated other areas of life in which I have been weeding lately. It seems as if I am sorting through information, situations, relationships, possessions, and pretty much everything this month in an effort to find balance and simply clean out the debris. This is not a bad thing by any means, and actually has been a good exercise in faith, mental ability, and physical stamina. Letting go of some things has been a test of my faith. Trying to decide what to keep and what to toss or pull has required some stretching of my thought process and planning abilities. Doing this exercise on top of everything else has been physically taxing, yet seeing the progress somehow recharges my energy level.
Symphony Amid Silence
In going about all this weeding, I noticed times of peaceful silence with only the whisper of the wind barely audible to fill the atmosphere. There have also been times when the locusts have decided to rehearse for a concert, sending their unmistakable call of summer through the air. It is a bit early for the locusts to being making such a din, however, it is far from abnormal to hear the locusts calling this early in July.
Historically, the locusts call in late August, just before students return to school. Growing up, my sister and I gauged how much of summer had passed based on when the locusts started calling. At the first sound of the locusts’ siren, we know our return to school was eminent and that the freedoms of summer would soon be coming to a close.
Locusts make their sound by vibrating a tymbal, or white drum-like plate located on either side of their abdomen. Male locusts make this call as a way to attract females and find their mate. The females respond with a clicking or snapping sound. The resulting noise creates a powerful din in the late day air.
Upon hearing the locusts this year, I immediately started looking for discarded locust shells. Locusts shed their shells to sprout wings and become adults. They crack through the hardened shells, creating a slit along the top. They then push themselves through the slit to spread their wings.
Finding a Gem Amid the Weeds
I looked in all the normal good places for finding discarded locust shells: the grooves of the bark on the old walnut tree, the v-shaped trunks of the maple trees, and the branches of the bushes, but found none on the first night. The next night while weeding, I noticed an oddly shaped brown object in the grass. Turning it over, I realized it was a locust shell. Once again, the eight year old inside got all excited and ran to the house to grab the camera to take pictures.
One Like Another
Just as the locust sheds its shell, we often need to shed habits or possessions in order to move onward. As we weed out needs, wants, desires, and other aspects of life, we build character, strength, faith, hope, and understanding. We also have the opportunity to stretch our imaginations, improve our talents and skills, and step outside our comfort zone. As I have said in other posts, it is in trying that we grow and in growing that we become who we need to be.
Earlier tonight, the rain forced the dogs and me inside. We worked on indoor chores and cleaned out two small areas that had been on our to-do list. After the rain, we went outside. While walking in the yard, I found the weeds growing in the garden to be bothersome to my anal mind. Though it was later in the evening and rather wet, I started weeding as the dogs supervised.
The number of weeds was a bit daunting, but I quickly realized many of the weeds were large tufts. Removing just a few tufts created a nice open space in the garden. I diligently kept pulling although the bugs were biting, I was sweating, and I really should have been inside taking a shower in order to go to bed at a decent hour. I pulled until dark and almost finished the weeding task. The sight before me was pleasing to the eye, as well as a reminder of how diligence, patience, and persistence can lead to better things, or as the following quote so eloquently states,
“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost
May the process of weeding through life’s gardens and spaces provide opportunity for growth, renewal, and inner peace. May the process of learning how best to spend our time bring a sense of accomplishment and understanding, allowing us to see the blessings in the delta before the divide.
Delta Before the Divide
Venus in the morning sky
Dancing with the crescent moon way up high,
Red, red sun above the haze
Conveying God’s love and grace
To the ground below
As the sound of the wind blows
Through the trees and beyond
The river to the sea past the pond
To the delta beyond the divide
Reaching to help us to the other side.
Rabbits and deer in the fields all around
Jump and steer themselves without a sound,
Dancing to summer’s song
As the river runs on and on
Through the minutes of the moments
That are hidden in the motions
Of the water in the delta before the divide
Where stellar is the view at the other side.
In the light of the sun and water of the rain,
We traverse the path that runs by faith
Through hill and dale, mountain and desert,
The Lord allows us to proceed despite the weather
By God’s grace through the river of time
We reach the delta before the divide
That pulls us to the shelter of the other side.
Onward we press and forward we go
Through the deserts that stretch past where the seeds have been sown,
Spreading our roots along the way,
Past our youth and innocent days
To the forest of the trees
Where before us we see
The world from the delta before the divide
Leading us toward the other side.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Locust mating – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530152846.htm
Locust sound – https://www.livescience.com/28925-why-cicadas-sing.html