“When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.”
― John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (via 30 Days of Bringing in the May)
I’m in the middle of finals week right now. I know finals week is hard on students, but it is seriously hard on professors too. Teaching fits into my life and is very rewarding. Grading is an enormous energetic expenditure that doesn’t feel like it fits (i.e. it “takes from” other important areas). It takes a while to rebound from being thrown off balance like this. I always feel as if I’m “getting home” from being out of town when I resurface after finals week, and just like getting home from a trip, there is a lot to catch up with and it takes time to recover. I literally feel energetically drained, like something has been taken out of me that I didn’t really have available to give. I also notice a pattern of depressive thoughts at this time: not a good mother, not a good friend, not a good wife, not a good daughter, not enough, not enough, not enough, no one likes me, what is the point of anything, why do I try, who do I think I am, what do I have to offer. (Usually accompanied by a headache.) I’m trying to just observe and notice this as a pattern, rather than getting stuck in the thought-ruts. However, even this noticing usually involves a hearty dose of self-beratement: how come I can’t remember this, how come I can’t be more zen, how come I can’t “unclench” and flow, how dare I claim to be a “spiritual” person when this is how I think and feel, and blah, blah, blah.
Today I went outside after finishing my stack of final exams. We were supposed to get family pictures taken this afternoon and I’d finally come to the conclusion that it didn’t make sense to do pictures today and I should reschedule. Right then, my photographer-friend messaged me to suggest the exact same thing! Sweet relief! It is interesting how a fairly small adjustment to a day can relieve some of the drain and restore some of the energy. Just then my four-year-old brought a clover flower over to me and said, “I picked this for you, Mama, to help you have a happy day!” I smelled it and realized I may never have truly smelled a clover flower before. It was beautiful. I sniffed and sniffed the flower. My husband and daughter picked more flowers and we all inhaled the smell of them deeply. Indescribably lovely. And, then I realized…this is “approaching the beautiful.”