I just got back from two weeks of rest and relaxation in Woodstock, NY. Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, the picturesque scenery saturated my soul with a spirit of tranquility. The mornings were especially serene as I was surrounded by God’s presence within the stillness.
I had no idea how much I needed it, or how heavy my spirit had become, until about a week after arriving I began to feel the pressure ease. The weight of our collective troubles – the hatred, killings, racism, and terrorism – had started to suffocate me. Like so many of you, I’d begun to embrace fear and lose hope, doubting things would ever really change. It wasn’t until I started seeing God in everything, that I was reminded that He can do anything.
Yes, with Him anything is possible. Even the things we fear most have solutions. The trick though is learning to see God as a part of our everyday life. I know that sounds a bit kooky, and not even close to a plan of action, but follow along and you’ll see what I mean.
When I arrived in Woodstock my first observation was that it was a little weird – beautiful landscape but full of things I’d only ever seen in movies. Driving into town was like entering a time warp, with tie dye t-shirts blowing in the breeze and hippies walking down the street grooving to music no one else could hear. On the single main street there were four tattoo parlors, at least three places where you could get a reading, and a host of other locations offering spiritual enlightenment. There was even a thriving Wiccan community that was offering spell casting classes that Tuesday. I was so tempted to sign up, but I skipped it, this time.
Like I said…weird, a little different, and just odd enough to make you feel uncomfortable, perhaps even afraid. That tends to be our first reaction to things we don’t understand, most especially other people. We get dismissive, try to put some distance between us and them, and eventually, because we just don’t get it, we deem their different as deficient. After all, we are the normal ones.
We follow the rules, color inside the lines, and grow up trying to be acceptable, so that we can belong. We are the mainstream, and anyone too far outside our norm – well they’re just weird.
That’s how 99% of us unconsciously view life. We like the norm, our “safe space” where we’re all the same. We’ve even created a common goal – the American dream – to make sure we all have the same standard of success. But after a week or so of hanging out in Woodstock, the Spirit challenged my perspective.
I woke up early one morning and went outside to write. As usual I was awe-struck by the scenery, only this time what really caught my attention was all the different shades of blue I could see in the sky. I looked down at the grass and it too featured a variety of different hues. Sitting there enjoying the moment, I realized nature was sending me a message.
See how everything is different but peacefully enjoys the same space? That’s the plan for you humans too. Stop trying to find what’s the same, and instead celebrate what’s different. Learn to appreciate the unique attributes of God in everyone, then you’ll be at peace with each other.
Huh, well that would certainly be a switch. Instead of searching for the proverbial “common ground,” to let being God’s creation be our common denominator. Could that really work?
Well, when I went back into town the next day I realized that it already had. The proof was in Woodstock – a place where the hippies and progressives were at peace with one another. On Facebook I shared a video from a communal drumming session that highlights what I’m talking about.
Shopkeepers, silent dancers, farmers and aspiring actors all co-existing together in a place they call home. They don’t see each other as weird. Instead they’re just all doing their own thing, in their own unique way, and allowing other people to do the same – without fear, judgement, or pressure to conform. It’s a beautiful picture of what nature has been teaching us all along – how God’s diverse creation can live together in harmony, when we recognize each other’s divine design.
Just imagine if the whole country embraced that notion, if we practiced seeing God in everything, and valuing all of His creation as special and important. Wow…what a change it would make in what we see on the news, and how freeing it would be for us as individuals.
You see, once I started talking to folks about town I found they had the most interesting lives. For example, there’s the owner of Peace, Love and Cupcakes. Her Hippie Chippers cookies really deserve their own blog, but her life captivates my interest even more, as her shop is only open Friday – Sunday 12-6pm. The remaining days she spends time on her other passions.
After tasting her treats the capitalist in me wondered, why not open more days of the week? Surely she wants to sell more cupcakes. But as it turns out, she doesn’t. Instead she’s living life her way, based on her priorities, and not looking for validation from anyone else. And you know what…I LOVE IT!
Both weekends I was in town we made sure to get to her shop early to pick up our treats. Because here’s the thing – when you’re using your God-given gifts the way He intends the world will make room for you. You don’t have to do what’s expected. You can – and will – be successful doing what’s right for you.
That’s why I believe seeing God in everything – yourself, each other, and our beautiful earth – really can add peace and joy to our lives. It releases us from the compulsion to be “normal” and allows us to be ourselves, while extending grace to others to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a more perfect way to love each other as God intended.
So this week I challenge you to intentionally seek to see the divine in everything around you. Let nature remind you of God’s continual presence, His desire for us to embrace our differences, and the unique way He has displayed himself in us all. There is a joy in seeing God in everything, and I don’t want you to miss it!
I’m loving on me as I love you. Peace and blessings…