Mirrors

Reflections on Art, Faith, and Life

Month: March, 2012

The Water Sprinkler Syndrome

Imagine with me, if you will, one of those circular water sprinklers that pops up out the ground to water a yard. Have you ever noticed where most of the “dead” grass is in a lawn that utilizes these? It’s often the grass that circumferences the sprinkler unit! I find this both interesting and metaphorical. The sprinkler is working so hard to make sure the needs of the rest of the lawn are met, that the needs closest to it can be neglected. If you’re reading this and trying to make a connection between the title of this blog post, and the overall title of the blog – hang in there with me and see if I can’t tie the two together.

Most of us live lives that cause us to be very busy – and often that busyness is used to take care of important needs. Family, work, church, community, volunteer efforts, service projects – the list is practically endless and exhausting. That’s my point – it can be endless and exhausting. Even though most of the things that require our attention are good, it is much too easy to allow them to rob of us adequate time for reflection and solitude.

We can often be so busy “nourishing those around us,” that we neglect ourself – sometimes physically, sometimes mentally, sometimes emotionally, sometimes spiritually. I don’t think it’s intentional – we’re often just so busy doing other good things we neglect legitimate needs housed within our selves.

The scriptures speak of Jesus often “withdrawing from the people.” I believe he did this because he knew he needed to attend to himself and stay focused on what was most important. This is not selfish – it is healthy and necessary. Many of the great thinkers of the past have spent time “withdrawn.”  I am a firm believer that too much isolation is not a good thing, but I also believe that too much community is not a good thing either. As is often the case, we search for that sometimes elusive balance.

Time spent daily in reflection is an antidote to frenzy. It brings clarity, calmness, realignment, discipline, care, and sustenance.  It would be a shame to spend so much time attending to other things that we evade the salient parts of our own development.

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We Become Like Our Most Predominant Thoughts

Solitude’s solace is essential to helping purge the mind of things that do not belong there. Our mental and aural filters are assaulted all day by things others say are important. It is perilously easy to slip into the “tyranny of the urgent.” There are lyrics to an old Debbie Boone song that go, “Did you give yourself to busy-ness, and never question why?” This is a remarkably salient question! I believe it is possible to wind up somewhere unintended, and not know exactly how one arrived, or the best way back. In order to keep balance and clarity, it is essential that we examine what it is we think about.

Tennyson offers this suggestion: “Guard your roving thoughts with a jealous care, for speech is but the dialer of thoughts, and every fool can plainly read in your words what is the hour of your thoughts.” I believe a similar senitment is voiced in the following Philippian instruction: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8) This leads me to conclude that what we think about is indeed of prime importance.

An anchor from leadership studies is: “We become like our most predominant thoughts.” If we accept this premise, it should be imperative that we scrutinize what it is we spend our time thinking about. If we are going to morph in the direction of our reflections, shouldn’t we spend sufficient time insuring that we are contemplating the correct things?

This world will not necessarily assail us with the most desirable venues for deliberation. That is why we must seek quiet solitude – in order to access our mental processes and delete the bugs we find in our programming. They slip in simply, and often undetected; hence, we must be resolute in our attempts to focus on things that will help, not hinder; empower, not enslave; free, not frighten; and inspire, not incite.

If this were easy, we would all do more of it. This is the challenge for us – plan regular periods of refuge and reflection. See what is going on in your mind. Is it what should be? If not, what can I do about it? How am I being shaped by what I think about? What are the predominant issues that ruminate in my head and heart?

I believe it is paramount for us to make this a priority in our lives. We will all wind up “somewhere,” and it makes sense to me to want to insure that we wind up where we intend. Searching in solitude seems to be effectual in our attempts to make our cerebral wiring what the Father would have it be.