Yesterday’s Gospel reading seemed tailor-made for my state of mind in recent days. “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life?” I find myself experiencing a new, very deep unease about world events. Violence by the Libyan government against their own people and general instability in the Middle East; in the midst of heavy rain here this week, concerns about climate change and flooding and other disasters; our nation’s entrenchment in wars around the globe, political polarization here at home and wondering what that bodes for the 2012 election.
In his homily, our pastor reflected on the image of the birds, noting the increasing frequency of their singing in the early mornings. He remarked that awareness of these sounds also indirectly invites awareness of silence, which is the opposite of noise, and that worry is a form of noise. Yes, I can see that!
The birds of the air, grass of the fields and wild flowers that grow further remind me that I too am one of earth’s creatures. Modern conveniences limit the time I must spend tending the needs of survival, such as obtaining food and water, thereby increasing the time for reading and pondering and generally multi-tasking. This fact usually seems advantageous, yet for me this incessant way of life contributes to worrying. Conversely, a renewed focus on “what I am to eat” provides an antidote.
Recently I attended a bread-baking workshop at Grailville Retreat Center and learned once again that a purposeful, nurturing activity that also involves physical labor creates its own type of silence. Measuring ingredients, warming them, proofing the yeast, stirring and later kneading the sticky mixture of yeast, flour, oil and milk is a whole-body effort that effectively quiets mental noise, opening space to discern how I might be called to “seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.”
photo by ulterior epicure via Flickr
Copyright Peg Conway 2011