The past week brought some lower temperatures and more rainfall than normal to my area. The cooler temperatures averaged 9.5°F below normal, and the rainfall the past week alone brought the area within 0.82 inches of normal. We had one day where the rain started before 4:00 AM and did not completely stop until 2:00 AM the following day. Though the rain was mostly light during this period, it did make for some challenges in getting yard work done and completing my normal running and biking routine.
In attempting to go about my normal routine, I found the extended daylight of summer to be most helpful. With sunset still at 8:55 PM and sunrise inching back to 8:52 AM, the added light allowed me options to complete tasks and activities. It is always nice to have options, and I felt most blessed in recognizing their existence this week. A change in my work schedule also helped, allowing me to run or bike both morning and evening.
Additional help came from nature’s latest blooms in the surrounding fields and roadsides. As I ran, biked, and walked the dogs this week, I found the following plants either in bloom or close to blooming:
- Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), with long, velvet-like leaves and clustered yellow flowers attached to stalks 1-8 feet tall making it most noticeable along the roadside
- Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), reaching 1-4 feet tall with tubular flowers spreading from an urn-shaped base and leaves almost fringed in appearance due to their narrow sections
Milk vetch (Astragalus canadensis), with fern-like leaves, boat-shaped yellow flowers, and wispy stalks rising 1-4 feet above the ground
- Teasels (Dipsacus sylvestris), with spiny egg-shaped heads and stems branching out from tall stalks reaching up to the skies
Light’s Factor in Freedom
Seeing the tall flowers in bloom reminded me to rise above the darkness of life situations and see the potential the light in life offers. As I contemplated this thought, I realized that the darkness often places both physical and mental boundaries upon the soul. Though by nature we humans need light, we sometimes cling to the veils offered in the shadows of darkness in an effort to hide or distance ourselves from both the truth and adversities or difficulties.
Though we may feel secure in our effort s hide, we also need to remember that there is no hiding from God, and perhaps this is best described in Psalm 139:
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,
For darkness is as light to you. – Psalm 139: 1-3, 7-12
Freedoms and Boundaries Within Options
As we make choices in life based upon our options, we may find that the options seen or known do not really fit our needs. While the choices may be appealing, their complexities and caveats may actually hinder our progress.
For example, I lost my cell phone while mowing grass over the weekend. Efforts to find it after over twenty minutes of searching were fruitless. I admit I panicked, and did not pray first before taking action, which proved to be a mistake. Long story short, I went to the local cell phone provider store to get a replacement phone for emergency purposes. As fate would have it, my phone and plan, which are over five years old, are no longer supported unless I opted for an upgrade, which I was eligible for, but after all the fine print, could not obtain without spending an additional $25 per month for service with an additional minimum of $10.80 per month for “smart phone” service.
Given I did not need many of the options provided in the upgrade (sorry, I am “old-fashioned” and prefer to do my own thinking and not rely on electronic devices), I could not justify the cost, nor could I fit the available phone in my pocket (which is a major issue given my lifestyle). I felt trapped in a corner. Every inch of my being screamed, “Do not do this!” so I asked if there was another option.
The salesperson suggested a pre-pay phone, which required a new phone number, was supported by a different network, and was not covered in my discount plan. Again, I did not feel comfortable with this, but given the cost was $85 initially and $35 per month after, and the fact I had already spent over an hour of valuable weekend time waiting in line, I figured it was somewhat doable. I should have listened to my gut and headed home to look for my lost phone at this point, but instead opted to spend $85 and an additional 30 minutes for all the paperwork and setup to be completed.
Upon returning home, I discovered my parents had found my phone, but had no way to contact me, so I spent money for nothing on the surface. However, in hindsight, I realized a valuable (literally and figuratively) lesson in that it is always best to pray first, remain patient, and make sure you are comfortable with your choice.
During my wait, I watched other people explain their cell phone issues to the sales person and observed how much time and complexity each solution required. As I watched each scenario unfold, I wondered how much valuable time is wasted on electronic devices and how many people are “held hostage” by the complexities of plans, data services, special features, etc.
Honestly, trying to communicate a simple message is now a complicated process. We have to decide whether to call, text, email, instant message, or use some form of social media to get our message to the recipient. Despite these options, the message is often not received, misunderstood, or misinterpreted. In this case, the added options actually place boundaries upon us, leading to some less than stellar decisions.
Freedom in Being Unplugged
Looking back on my experience, I know why I prefer nature over electronics. Nature is simple on the surface, but complex underneath. It does not allow the complexities to limit its reach, nor does it have limitations in potential. Though some boundaries exist, they often can be overcome with perspective, patience, and time. Nature has no fine print, no sales gimmicks, and no hidden agendas. It supports the soul without being asked, offers freedom in its light, and creates an atmosphere conducive to real communication.
May the light and blooms of nature offer potential and blessings beyond our expectations. May we recognize the boundaries darkness places upon us, and may we find freedom in our quest for the light upon our journey.
Running the race needed to be run
Engaged by the light,
Encouraged by the sights
Drawn to the mind and heart
Of the blessings disguised by God
Made known in time upon the journey’s ride.
Ready, willing, and able to project the sun
Entwined in life itself
Emphasized by the wealth
Deemed in the experience
Of both seen and unseen events
Made possible through light found in the journey inside.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski