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Stillness

by Alyssa von Helms

August 5, 2020

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How is August already here? It seems like I’ve been waiting for summer to start and my calendar tells me it’s almost over.

Well, the truth is I’ve been waiting for my summer to start. Maybe you think of it the same way: I had plans for my Saturdays, vacations I was supposed to go on, birthdays to celebrate. We’re supposed to be at this friend’s wedding. I’m supposed to be halfway through this certification. That holiday didn’t feel like a holiday because everything was closed.

“Supposed to be” is a phrase I didn’t notice popped up so often in my thoughts until all the distractions of life were cleared away and my thoughts had the space to become loud. Very loud. Sometimes loud thoughts can be heavy, but they can also be an excellent tool for figuring out exactly where you stand. What do you think you tell yourself about the world around you? What do you actually think (that you know you probably shouldn’t)?

I didn’t realize how many “supposed to be’s” I was collecting in my mind until all the distractions and busyness of life came to a grinding halt. With the slowing of “normal life” due to the pandemic, I had time—LOTS of time—to sit with my thoughts. The life goals I was supposed to achieve, the vacations I had planned, the gym classes, the concerts—this summer season was not going the way I thought it “should.”

This left me with a lot of time to spend outside, which is where I found myself taking time every afternoon to think about seasons. I mean, actual seasons. To be honest, summer is my least favorite of the four. Too hot, too bright, too harsh. Summer has always equaled sweat, sand and sunburns to me. I know other people love it but I have never been one of them—until now! What once seemed too harsh now feels warm and welcoming, full of life, the days stretched out so there’s still space to relax outside even in the evenings.

Taking time to practice thankfulness for the place I’m in has made all the difference in enjoying a place I once merely tolerated. The season hasn’t changed but I have. And what a relief! To watch the slow turn of a butterfly. To admire the color of green leaves in the sunshine. To appreciate the spread of a tree’s shade. I’ve seen these things before, of course, and enjoyed them then, but it’s one thing to notice and another thing entirely to make room to savor the beauty of the season you’re in.

Sunburns still happen. There are still days when I feel like I’m practically roasting in the heat. I stand too long in the grass and my legs have bug bites galore. (The wedding still is canceled. I still can’t see that friend. I still feel behind in all my plans.) But how nice it is to know that God turns the seasons and not one has ever begun too late or ended too early.

How nice it is to be still for a moment and make time to literally “lie down in green pastures” and admire the beauty in what God is doing now while anticipating what the next season could bring (Psalm 23:2)!

Alyssa’s soul is usually restored by a prescription of thirty minutes of afternoon sunshine, humming hymns . . . and iced coffee.