This may sound very simplistic, but it is quite true: when I am stressed out, all I need is some alone time (not necessarily a quiet place, but a place where I don’t have to talk to anybody) and a bit of nature to to look at — flowers, trees, lake — and then I can recover. My problems may not be solved, but at least I’d have the energy and the clarity of mind to face them.
When people are unhappy about things, they want to cure themselves of this unhappiness as quickly as possible, and do things that most often just add to their unhappiness. I think we ought to embrace this unhappiness first before we let it go. And then we can look to nature to remind ourselves that everything is being taken care of.
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” –Luke 12:27
I believe nature can help heal our unhappiness. We just need to spend time with it and be relieved of our worries by it.
“Nature loves patience: always remember that. It is a law given her of God Himself, who has blessed all those who are strong to endure.” –– Gogol, Dead Souls
One of my favorite poems that I can recite by heart is Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I kept reciting this poem to my baby when I was still pregnant, and even after my son was born. HBO’s Classical Baby The Poetry Show includes a reading of this poem by Susan Sarandon, and it is now my 5-year old son’s favorite part of the video.
A thought came to mind today as I watched my son give me the sweetest smile when the video clip began. A few months after our son was diagnosed with Autism, my husband wished Eli would not grow so quickly. Today, only for a moment I wished Eli would never grow up, so people can excuse his strange stimming habits, his speech delay and other autistic traits. Every now and then I worry about whether or not he will be able to live independently, when my husband and I won’t be around to look after him anymore.
Frost’s poem talks about how we, once in a while, encounter something that make us wish could last at least a lifetime, but we all have other things to do — duties, responsibilities, roles to play in other people’s lives — so we have to move on, continue living our lives.
The speaker in this poem though was truly in the moment. He noticed his surroundings: the snow-covered woods, the frozen lake; he heard the sound of the harness bells and the wind. He also used his imagination (“My little horse must think it queer…”), and was quite aware not only of the lack of danger (…He will not see me stopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow), but also of his responsibilities and of the life he had to live, (But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep.)
Oftentimes I look at my son and wonder what life will be like for him. Will he ever be able to speak like a neurotypical person? Will he be able to read by himself the books that he loves for me to read to him? Will he be able to write down his own name? But then I stop myself from doing this, and instead do things with him. Not much use wondering about the future when so much of it depends on the present.
What I liked most about Frost’s poem is the idea that though we can (and we should) live our lives — face our responsibilities, fulfill our duties, find our way in the darkness — we can stop once in a while and just enjoy what we have in our lives: food on our table, clothes to keep us warm (or cool), roof over our heads, air we breathe, water we drink, family, friendship. And love. And faith that everything will be all right in the end.
Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ; That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp’d town, to another due, Labour to admit you, but O, to no end. Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captived, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, But am betroth’d unto your enemy ; Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
People raised to believe in heaven and hell, or just raised to be a good person and to be sorry for doing bad things, most likely feel guilty for being bad and continually endeavor (and, perhaps, still fail) to be good.
The sonnet expresses that desire to be good (to be with God) again, and the supplicant is willing to be cleansed in any way (by God) just to become pure again.
Perhaps because it’s the Lenten Season, or maybe it’s just because somebody reminded me of this sonnet, that it’s stuck in my head, but it’s been awhile that I have not prayed like this.
Arrogance? I don’t think so. Too busy living? Maybe. Had enough? Well….
In this life I think we all have good years and bad years. Sometimes when we are having a good year, we ask (like I often do), “Do I really deserve this? Have I been really that good to deserve all these wonderful things?” And when we are having a bad year, we ask (like I ALWAYS do), “Seriously. What have I done to deserve this?”
And I’m having a bad year. It has gotten so bad that now I could laugh at an unfortunate incident my husband and I found ourselves in yesterday. It struck me that my life these past few months has been a black comedy.
The other day while I was doing the dishes, I thought of Job and how his faith was tested. I hope this is just a test as well, and that my husband and I will pass this test with flying colors. And that we will be laughing a real laugh, not the one tinged with pain.
I have always believed, and I know from experience that it’s true that “this too shall pass.”
It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for Truth, in which alone it finds liberation and delight, the first reaction of human beings to Truth is one of hostility and fear! -Anthony de Mello