Monday, 25 February 2013

full stop.

a glimpse of green surrounded by deep, white powder
There are a lot of stop signs along my travels and I confess,  I've been rolling right through them lately (figuratively, of course!  Well.....??).   After all, I don't have time for a complete stop.   I slow right down, of course, and look all directions before proceeding, but my wheels still keep turning.

Not today.  This morning I come to a full stop.  After a weekend absolutely filled to overflowing with activity,  I am finally obeying the stop sign -- the one posted to keep me from a serious collision.

I say "no" to my zoomba class this morning (sorry Chantal, in all your zoomba gorgeousness!) and I opt instead for a quiet start, a calmer rhythm, a soulful search.  This is a luxury on a Monday morning, to be sure, but one too easily ignored in favour of a mind-numbing pursuit of the endless "to do's" and a plethora of obligations waiting to be fulfilled.

Instead, I head for the woods....the place where I can really hear all the sounds that make up "quiet"...where I can still find green in the middle of winter (and for those of you who spend winter in Alberta, you understanding my longing for green right now).  It's the place where I can stretch right out and lay on soft, mossy slopes beneath old, creaking pine trees....and the place where I can be alone with God and bushy, red-tailed squirrels (and possibly cougars, but I try not to think about that!)

I cut across the ridge this morning and follow a path the deer have made down into the forest.  It's gorgeous down in there.  It's a world unto itself and I walk respectfully.  I don't have a photo because sometimes even taking photos can be a way for me to keep going - to avoid stopping.  No electronics today.  Full stop.  The only things in my pockets are the unusually red rock I pick up on my way in, and the heart-shaped rock I spot on my way out.  Otherwise, my hands are free.  Like my heart.
moss and rock i brought home from my walk
The woods are a place of quiet --a full kind of quiet, and after navigating around bushes, under branches, over fallen trees and down the mossy slopes, I find the perfect place to hunker down.  The perfect place to be still, to observe, to listen.  

I crush some pine needles between my fingers, releasing their fragrance so I can breathe in the awakening scent that reminds me of childhood camping trips.  I smile as I watch a little red squirrel chattering away on a nearby tree.  Like me, that little creature moves at lightning speed most of the time, but his movements seem so random.  Up there, across here, around that and back to the same starting place again.  Like me, he seems to be in frantic motion but not really going anywhere.  The other day I tallied up the hours I spent driving in my vehicle, chasing from one activity to the other, and realized that although I'd spent nearly 3 hours driving, I never got further than 20 minutes from my own front door.

  I'm going so fast but it feels like I'm getting nowhere with nothing to show for it all.  My heart has been heavy with questions lately. I wonder if I am missing it.  What if, in all of my busyness, I am racing right past the very things that I value and cherish the most:  God, my husband, my children, my family  and friends?  What if I'm not treasuring these fleeting family moments the way I should?  What if I'm not spending enough time teaching my children about faith in God, or more importantly, modelling a life of faith walked close with God? What if my husband and I are so focused on our kids and their busy lives that we are forgetting to nourish our own relationship - to be prepared for the next season of open spaces that the two of us will have to find meaningful ways to fill?  What if I've missed the beauty of this daily life we live together because I've been too focused on how to make it better, richer, fuller, more purposeful?

I realize too, that I have come to the woods to forage (just like my hyper little squirrel friend). I am in search of seeds, long buried beneath a winter landscape.  I am in search of nourishment.  I am in search of green.

I think I have come to the right place.  It may just be possible that my life is surrounded by all that I am searching for but it's not until I STOP that I can see it.

Definitely more on this later.... but now, it's off to piano lessons.

Photos and text Copyright © 2013 Melody Armstrong


  1. Oh I can feel your racing heart, can hear the cry of your heart, and can relate to the heart of your questions. Your heart is showing, girl! And guess what? It's a beautiful one and hearts that see and ask as you do will find answers. Sometimes the answer is just in knowing the promise of God's being with us. Knowing, not feeling, not even necessarily understanding, just knowing. Deep in your bones: by the skin of your teeth. It doesn't feel like enough some days, but it is. You know? I think you do. Thank you for writing such beautiful words and for stopping during your crazy day to grace us all with them.

  2. Precious Judy: Thank you for responding to my heart. I love that you have been here - right in this exact same place of life - and you've walked through it. I know you've asked many of the same questions and I appreciate your reminder that "just knowing," deep, deep down that God is faithful IS enough. I want to be led on this journey. It's too tricky to fumble through on my own. So glad that our heavenly Father is the gentle Shepard. May this little sheep hear his voice.

    Awaiting more wonderful "Seeing Sacred" posts.....I am always touched by your writing. xo


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