The trees seem to be standing like pillars that bridge the gap between heaven and earth. Certain trees seem to draw you to them. We sit beneath the boughs and just soak in the peaceful feeling. As the outside world melts away from my mind all the clutter and chaos of the day goes with it. A person can talk to God anytime they want to but to listen to God we need to silence the mind and open the heart. Our lives seem to be full of clutter today. T.V., social media, job stress, financial concerns and political stuff are always piled up around our ears. While it is important to keep a tab on the issues modern life it’s just as important to take a regular break from the world an center yourself. I have found that if I can take just a few minutes per day to enjoy solitude with God it strengthens me to deal with everything else.
Most of us are familiar with The Little Engine That Could. However, it occurs to me that some of my international friends may not have been told the story as a child so here is a summery.
The little train engine was loaded heavy and faced a long stretch of tracks up a steep mountain. The climb was hard but he kept repeating “I think I can. I think I can.” Over and over until he was over the top. It’s a preschool classic tale about the power of positive thinking. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that the Heart’s thoughts forms us into what we are as a person. In other words, how we identify ourselves determines how we behave. Do we see ourselves as the happy one? The fun one? The smart one? Maybe we see ourselves as the one who has a good heart but is always being taken advantage of. Whatever it is it’s that self identity that influences what we will do in any given situation. Even if the choice is being made subconsciously we are still making a choice. What forms that self identity can be pretty complicated but as I understand it we get a lot of this from the opinions of others. I once witnessed one of the cruelest pranks known to mankind when working in a prefab housing factory. The short version is that multiple people who was in on the prank simply asked this person if he was feeling okay. No suggestion of what might have caused the question was to be made. After several inquiries the otherwise healthy young man left early claiming he felt ill. The opinions of the group had so much influence on his opinion of himself that he manifested symptoms of illness. The next day he was told by several people that he looked well and that his recovery was amazing and he had one the most productive days ever! It was all done by manipulating his opinion of himself. And that brings me back to The Little Engine That Could. By repeating to himself that positive thought over and over he brought out the best that was inside himself and overcame the obstacle before him.
I try to keep these two stories in mind when I’m feeling down. One of them I learned as a child and the other I witnessed first hand. The lesson I learned was that positive thoughts can improve my quality of life. Also, with the rise of social media we’re more likely to encounter people like the coworkers who made a person sick simply with the power of suggestion. Keep that in mind when listening to the negative opinions yourself and others that might be floating around out there and never hesitant to give a kind word to someone who might need it to get through the day.
Standing on the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River at Glen Ferris, West Virginia. The cool mountain breeze washes over me as the sun brings a golden dawn. The fog rises up from the water as if sleeping clouds are waking up to go to work. A faint buzzing noise catches my attention as the morning air brings the fresh scent of water mint to my nose. I look along the water’s edge to see the honey bees collecting their morning meal. There’s a soft splash off in the distance and I look out across the river to see the ripples where the fish had jumped out to catch a mayfly. As the last cloud makes it’s way skyward to greet the sunrise I climb back into my big blue truck and continue on to my destination.
One of my favorite things about summertime is the blackberries. I have fond memories of finding a patch of ripe berries during long hike on a hot summer day. The wild blackberry is collected and brought home by the bucket load. June and July is cobbler season. Often a wonderful Sunday dinner is followed by the extra special treat warm cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. The berry grows on a cane lined with thorns. I’ve created all sorts of contraptions in attempts to pick the berries but I seem to come home looking like I’ve been wrestling a wildcat. Sometimes the sweetness is worth the pain. A few years ago I found a patch that been mashed down in the center. I cautiously entered the patch. Something to remember when collecting blackberries is to keep your ears open for the velvet tailed glow worm. (An old-fashioned term for the Timber Rattlesnake). Satisfied that no venomous serpent was close by I began picking. I started at the top of the canes and worked my downward. I had about a half of a bucket when I suddenly realized why the berry patch had been mashed down. Do you know that old saying about what a bear does in the woods? You know, the cliche that sells toilet paper? Yeah, that one. Well, they seem to do it in the berry patch as well. In fact, as I looked around I saw that they do that a lot in the berry patch. At full alert now I finished filling my bucket before the bear came back for a second helping. Today I manage a small patch on the edge of my property. Bear free of course.
Do you ever wonder where all the great thinkers are today? The inventors, philosophers and problem solvers? Who are the real world leaders? I think I have an answer. They are you. You are the greatest resource on planet Earth. You, the individual. The human mind is the only known creation on planet Earth with the ability to reason beyond the moment. You have the capacity to dream and to forge that dream into a reality. Sure some are more skilled at different forms of creativity than others but that’s a measure of quality not capacity. As a human, you are singularly able to change your world to suit your vision. That’s why quite time is so important. You generate your visions in those times when you can get away from the noise of all the other voices in the world and have free thought. It’s how you sweep away the clutter of the mind and bring dreams into focus to obtain that clear vision.
The featured image is one such place where I like to go. It’s a spot on the Gauley River just below Summersville Dam. As the water pours out of overflow tunnels it forms class six rapids and the roaring river blocks out the noisy world. This is birthplace of many dreams and a refuge for a busy mind.