It's my birthday, I can cry if I want to...
But I'm not in the crying mood, even though the last of our Finns are flying home today. Our half-Finnish, half-American niece took all the way to yesterday to decide to actually get on the plane, but she packed her bags and is off--but by the grace of God, will be back to set up a life here in Washington soon, her dog firmly in crate beside her.
So it's a quiet day to celebrate 55 years. A much quieter day than the rest of the summer. No baker's dozen crowded around our table answering the sharing questions we pull out of our brains, no leisurely coffee and tea together on the back deck, sitting like lizards in the sun of the morning, no outings that take us up and down the freeway squished into cars not made for the giants in our land. Just the relative quiet of the five/six of us retreating to our own corners for the last few weeks before heading off to work and our own activities.
As for me, though I've loved most moments of the community of these last six weeks, I've also craved more solitude that feeds my soul and grounds my relationship with God. I'm a largely communal person but it takes a whole lot from me, and I know that the source of my energy for all of that comes from the silence of community with Christ. From my prayer closet, I might call it.
What I mean is that without such time with Him, I become more invested in worldly things, more engaged in pursuits that aren't Kingdom matters. This is, of course, the dilemma for all of us. Without cultivating significant time with Him, it's too easy to think that human concerns are the most important ones. Like what we should have for the next meal, like what someone's doing for us rather than how we can serve them. Like the state of my house, which has taken a huge beating from the sheer number of people crowding their things into its small space. You wouldn't believe how much stuff has taken up residence in places I would never allow to be storage spots generally--like the piano, which currently houses a pair of jeans, a hot water bottle someone has needed, some running shoes that need to be returned and a book that goes into a room now occupied by a guest; a similar list could be made for the back counter, the computer desk and even, rather unfortunately, the dining room table. And all this clutter is really about to drive me crazy.
But that's the point. My very caring about such things is the problem because it's all made me irritable. Almost unglued. Agitated so that I've paid less attention to enjoying these last few days than simply trying to keep up with the clutter. Even though the last of this rare gift of community (one that might not come again on this earth) is completely temporary. Even this morning it will change in a flash with MW walks out the door. So my inability to relax and enjoy speaks volumes of my spiritual condition.
That is, the problem's in me. That problem stems from setting my mind on things below, the opposite of what Paul exhorts us in Colossians 3: 1-4. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."
So today, while it is still (or already!) today-- this birthday--this is my pledge to myself and, more importantly, to God: to set my heart and mind on things above. To set my mind on Kingdom matters, even while I live on this earth and do ordinary, human tasks. This is the balance of life. But it's what He asks. And what He asks is possible, if not by my own ability, my own 'try,' but, to use a negative word in the psycho-jargon of the world, but an apt phrase, the enabling of the Holy Spirit.