It has been so long since I penned a blog post! My apologies. The reason is that I have been occupied preparing for a three month stay in Portugal. I have been here more or less three weeks. You can expect that for the remainder of my stay here I will be blogging primarily about my stay. Unfortunately I can’t promise much regularity in my postings, because I am more enthusiastic about exploring my temporary home than I am about breathing air! Hahaha.
I am staying in a village called Santa Cruz da Trapa. I am two hours outside of Porto. The scenery makes one feel so very small in the grand scheme of things: beautiful, riveting mountains, gurgling streams, winding roads that are so pleasant to walk and so scary to drive! I would love to put a spiritual spin on this… after all, this is a Christian blog. So, I can think of one thing that it is simple, not lofty at all. surrounded by beauty as we all are, we should be looking, absorbing, letting it seep into our souls to make them more beautiful.
It isn’t exactly an original statement that we need to put aside our phones and work to focus on the present moment. But perhaps it has been left assumed, implied, and so unsaid, the value of immersing ourselves – really being present – in the beauty around us.
Beauty is always around us. If we so choose, it is also within us. Think about a beloved morning traffic jam. Cars are piled up, you’re already ten minutes late for work, and the car radio is saying this won’t clear up for an hour. And, it’s raining. Where is the beauty in such a day? Look consciously around your car. That flower on the dashboard is a sliver of beauty. Or the children’s mess and toys in the backseat are beautiful… because they are of the children, your greatest blessings. Or look at the stormy skies. The clouds, the rolling thunder, they are beautiful. The rolls and shading of light and dark grays are majestic and beautiful in their own right.
The situations vary, but it is always true that beauty exists in our every day lives. Even when it is hard to find. If we consciously search for beauty, simply paying attention to its presence, how will that affect our souls and resultantly our daily lives? Does it even matter if we focus on beauty and goodness? I believe yes. I believe that what we see and believe affect what we expect, how much we dare to dream.
I suffer from depression, and have seen the power of thought up close and personal. I also struggle with PTSD. The root of these issues are that I do not have control over my thoughts. The disorders, the negativity, overpowers me. Obviously that is a grossly simplified description. But I believe it is true. What we think affects our belief. If we believe that every storm, every traffic jam, is without goodness, that thought pattern will carry to other areas of life. Your job will become miserable. You will see a weekly argument with your spouse as the permanent state of the marriage, forgetting the tenderness and love that remains. It is also very easy to turn that negativity on yourself, believing yourself to be without goodness within even as you are believing that your life is largely without goodness.
This is what I am learning as I stare out at these beautiful mountains. For the time being the beauty and goodness in my life are obvious. It is easy to believe that life can be peaceful when tucked away in a quiet European village in the mountains. I am hoping that when I return to my home in America, that I will not forget to see beauty all around me. Perhaps I will have to try a little harder. But beauty will always be there. And if I believe that, then beauty will seep inside of me as well.

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