“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” – Henry David Thoreau
Last month I wrote about functioning with a lack of margin in our lives. I had begun to feel like life was a whirring blender and I was getting chopped up in it. Sufficed to say, that is not how I want to live.
I’ve always been of the opinion that if there are things in your life that aren’t working for you…CHANGE IT.
I realize that sounds very black and white and it’s not really always that simple, but the truth is that hard decisions are never simple. Priorities need to get shifted and sometimes making space to breathe can even mean scheduling unplanned time.
A few days after the margin post I went to the lake with a handful of my closest friends. We had great plans for jump starting summer’s bronze glow on our skin and sipping sweet tea on the edge of lounge chairs all day.
Turned out, it was cold.
We wore bathing suits on the porch that shortly thereafter got covered with fuzzy blankets. Not long after the blanketing, in full resignation to the chill bumps covering our skin, we came back inside and put on pajamas and slippers.
Katie and Lindsey brought art supplies with them. I didn’t feel like just sitting and so asked if I could have a piece of paper and use Katie’s watercolors.
I’m not entirely sure how to explain what happened in my soul in the hours following. The space between us filled with conversation, and something apparently bottled up in my spirit began to release between brush strokes of colored water onto thick, textured cardstock. And when I painted the word “breathe” as if prompted by heaven itself, the tears began to roll.
Sometimes we forget to….
For hours we found ourselves slowly gathering around the table…painting, releasing, sharing, dreaming, encouraging. We made lots of art. We remembered that God was the first creative, and that he put that creativity into each of us too.
But when creativity becomes a machine in us, and we begin to produce instead of create, something tenses up and we find ourselves trapped.
So we make space, and walk in freedom again and create without thought of the end result… and something releases.
* * *
Last weekend my family went to the mountains. And something in my spirit began to exhale again. I didn’t even know I’d been holding my breath for so long. Sometimes it’s like that.
Like Thoreau said, I want to suck the marrow out of life. I want to sit by streams while my kids fish and color what I see.
I want to strip trees of bark and make baskets and fill them with wildflowers and strawberries that scatter across hills.
I want to “live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”
And I want to encourage you to do that too.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – Is 25:6-9
**What do you need to cast off, to cut away, or to make space for? Let’s live full together. Let’s suck the marrow out of living.