This morning I woke after nine hours of sleep (talk about glorious) and didn’t feel urgent at all. Usually I wake up and immediately go through a list of things I need to do before I go to work. Write, read, check email, feed the cats (okay, that one’s always first), pay bills, clean, etc. . . There’s this urgency that creeps into my chest and makes me feel like I have so much to get done and so little time to do it. I’m not sure where I learned this pattern, but it is there.

But for the last year or so, I’ve been being helped to take life as it comes to me. I have dreams; I have goals; I have ideals for which I want to strive. Yet, it seems I had been leaving all the things I have in this moment – friends, good work, great books, words – to sit behind me while I leaned forward trying to reach new things. My body hung over the cliff while my life sat beside my feet, trying to keep me from free falling.

In the past months, I have begun to feel there is more time – I’ve begun to see an expansiveness before me. It’s as if that cliff that felt so impending has turned into a vista where I am looking out over a great ravine filled with birds and waterfalls. And the truth is that the only thing I can do from where I am is enjoy the beauty before me. I don’t have a rope to climb down into the valley, and turning back seems like a really bad idea. So what I can do is walk beside the cliff and enjoy the view before me. Sometimes, like a traveler at night, I cannot even walk. I must sit and stare out over that glorious sight and wait. I am learning that I am not lazy if I am waiting.

At some point, I learned that I had to take control of things and “make them happen.” Somewhere on this journey of life, I began to believe that I had the power to adjust life’s pattern to suit my goals and dreams. Somehow, I took on striving as all there was. I have often spoken of contentment as my ultimate goal – to feel always that peace that passes understanding – and I have not often really lived that.

I am learning to. I am learning – in ways I never knew possible – to trust that God has “got this.” I am learning to see this time overlooking the valley as one of blessed rest. I am not having to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death,” at least not right now. I am being “made to lie down in green pastures;” I am being led by “the still waters.” My soul is being restored. God is forcing me to acknowledge that I have very little control of things, and to be honest, it’s the most freeing feeling in the world. I am in the hands of a God who is loving and who is strong, and how could I hope for more.

So here I sit, on this morning where I have nothing particular that needs to be done for a few hours. A cat is purring softly in my lap; a candle burns on a table that my dad made for me. The fall air whispers in through the screen of my window. My coffee is sweet and good. My house has sold, without any of my plans working to make it happen. I have found a man who loves me and who I love, and I could not make that happen on my own. I have work that gives me joy and gives me rest. All of these things are gifts. Despite all of my striving and reaching and leaning, I could not get any of these things on my own. It is all gift.

The hard part is learning to accept it.

Victoria Falls – Victoria Falls