I think when life has a number of anxieties our minds tend to look at the landscape of real or perceived troubles, and that's when a sense of overwhelm can almost sweep you off your feet into a mental state of panic or fear.
When we look far and wide or spend too much time focused of the enormity of a problem, such as many are doing with the worldwide pandemic right now, we soon begin to miss the small things that our hearts need to ground us in the here and now, the gentle everyday things which display beauty to the eyes and plant seeds of calm in the soul.
I've truly been exhausted of late, unable to sleep, arthritis pain pushing itself to the forefront of my days, migraines returning suddenly due to overcast and humid skies - and none of these had anything to do with the pandemic. It's been an accumulation of many things and probably stems from doing too much too soon (in the garden) after the heart issues found in January.
The past couple of days I've slowed right down, considering the need to be intentional with all I do and not just ploughing on regardless as is my natural tendency.
I walked around the garden with my camera in the morning and focused on the little things which can so easily be missed as I gaze over the quarter acre we call home.
There is truly so much beauty in the small things; those individual elements which thrive alone and yet together within their surroundings.
I'm blessed to have birds of all kinds dwell in and around our trees and gardens, and though I daily welcome them and feed some, yesterday I really looked at them to examine these perfectly designed creatures who choose to spend time in our environ. The first photo above is a female yellow breasted Sunbird who drank from the Geisha Girl leaves as I watered it and the tomatoes underneath. I thought she would take to flight when I ran inside to get my camera but she did not...she continued to drink and I continued to water, both appreciating each other - her for the water I offered, and I for the beauty and companionship she gave in return.
I looked under the pumpkin vine in the front garden and imagined it a shady respite for lizards and the many green tree frogs we have around the house...
...then marvelled at how many pumpkins are growing from just one seed. I found six established and many more just starting out.
In the raised bed my husband set up a few weekends back the rocket and radishes and coriander and beetroot are all waving in the breeze and lifting their leafy coats to the very warm late autumn sun.
And nearby some of the many zinnias we've planted bloom happily to welcome more bees and hopefully ladybugs.
Even the Thai basil which has gone to seed is flourishing a pretty purple dress.
After a harsh summer and early to mid autumn the lavender really struggled, but after time in the shade, more water than usual and some worm tea its recovering and shows signs of offering fragrant stems in winter.
And it is the lavender which has made me understand that once again the sheer length and harshness of our tropical seven-month-long summer has taken more energy than I have to spare these days and that here, in our final weeks of autumn as we await winter's appearance, it is time to slow down in some areas of life in order to rest, refresh, restore, heal and also appreciate the small things around me that too often are missed by scanning life as a panorama of days and not focusing, not letting my eyes rest, on those precious moments which ebb and flow around me.
What small things have you missed recently?
Can I encourage you to take some time this coming week and look with fresh eyes and open heart at the little things?
Something I'm enjoying more than I imagined is knitting a cardigan for Cully May. I began one cardigan a few weeks back, and as it was my first return to knitting in over a decade or more I chose what I thought was a simple basic pattern...but I was not aware until I purchased it and began knitting that the whole thing is knitted in one piece and with US terms.
Truthfully, I was fine until it came to knitting in the sleeves and then it got too much. Double pointed needles (which I have never liked), circular needles (which I also do not like) and instructions that made no sense at all...well, I began to feel that awful overwhelm and as I was already very weary it seemed I was tumbling into a black hole of sadness and uselessness.
You know, when I knitted garments for my children it was sheer joy from start to finish.
I loved the little designs within the pattern, and I loved sewing the fronts and back and arms and necks in place, piece by piece. And not having that sense of peaceful 'rhythm and ordinary ways' as I knitted Cully May's cardigan just made me sad. I wanted to love every stitch to the end.
But it was not to be.
So I unravelled the lot.
And I searched online for those wonderful ordinary patterns of the old days written with Australia/UK terms and found a lovely Etsy Shop who sells them.
I've now completed both fronts and am working on the back.
Every piece knitted separately the way I remember, the way I enjoyed.
And you know, Blossom loves this pattern much more than the original. In truth, we're both happier with the old ways in many things so instead of pushing to do something new that isn't really necessary and certainly doesn't fill our contentment tanks, we'll just enjoy what makes us happy.
I'll never knit a top-down cardigan, sweater or four-double-pointed-needle socks and that's okay.
Life is a gift from God and along with occasional trials comes many joys, and as someone said to me recently, "don't bring a time of trouble on to yourself before the time of trouble". With regards to knitting this means don't make something that causes you sadness with feelings of failure and distress. It's only a cardigan. Knit the one that makes you content and happy with every stitch.
Does this ring true in your life or are you happier to pursue new things?
THE 23rd PSALM BOM
This month's block is the second half of Psalm 23:4...
Ladybugs, flowers and words of truth and certainty from the Father -
"For Thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
Psalm 23 is certainly the perfect chapter for us to hold close to our hearts this year.
I pray that as you stitch you will feel the Holy Spirit's presence and the assurance of God holding you close.
I will leave you today with something else that is small and yet vast beyond measure with what it offers.
One verse in God's Word can change a moment, a day, a life. Don't be overwhelmed reading chapter after chapter each day because you think you should...there are seasons for that, but more often there are seasons for soaking in small sections and letting the Holy Spirit bring it to life with the Light of Christ, shining it upon our hearts with understanding of how that verse or passage applies to us personally.
I'm very slowly going through Psalms at the moment and there are days when I read and re-read the same Psalm over and over, highlighting sections or one verse and then writing it in my journal. Oh I cannot tell you how many lessons the Lord is teaching me right now, but they go deep and are rich with His love and right with His correction.
This coming week...this month of May...look for the small things, choose the ways which bring you joy, and let the beauty and love within God's Word breathe refreshment and peace to your heart.