Sometimes, unexpectedly, a fond memory floods our mind and we find ourselves meandering through the corridors of time past. Simple childhood memories slip into the present, stirring up our senses and the forgotten events of by gone days.
My grandmother lived on a farm in the central western district of New South Wales. Often I would go to stay- a city girl free to explore the camphor-scented nooks and crannies of her old, rambling farmhouse, to wander through spacious, high ceiling rooms that housed merry memories of family gatherings, and to gaze outside, upward at clear blue skies, imagining animal shapes in the white clouds that drifted by.
There was a ritual we enjoyed together. Taking her string bag in one wrinkly, brown hand and my tiny, soft hand in the other, we set off every few days to purchase fresh, frothy cow’s milk, a slab of sweet, yellow butter and a large jar of thick, cotton wool white cream. I can hear the crunch of our boots on the gravel road, as we walked at a rhythmic pace together. Needle thin pines bent low and whispered friendly salutations and mud brown cows nodded shyly as we passed. Occasionally, a farmer waved his leathery hand towards us as his old Massey, the faithful work horse, chugged past.
We had time to notice, to wonder, to laugh, to talk about the world around us and learn more about each other. This was a natural part of our rituals for the day.
Today, what are our simple rituals? Perhaps walking for pleasure, holding hands as we pray, folding washing, cleaning dishes or chopping wood. Preparing meals, reading or writing. Learning, laughing and loving together. All our slow, methodical, manual work, though time consuming in nature, is significant, worthwhile and formative. It is work given by our Creator, for our enjoyment, for our good, for our growth. It is designed to be done, with intention, with presence and with patience.
There is however, in our culture, (that demands we show more for every minute we work) an urgent need to slow down and accept the limitations of ourselves and the limitations of each day. There is a high price to pay for anxiously trying to do more than we were designed to do. Are we frantically attempting to become more than we were created to be? Why do we push and rush and produce at a super human pace? What would it be like to live each day in healing rhythms that honor the limits of our body, the pleasures of rest and the delight of play?
Imagine living like we understood that our calling is to become fully human, by savoring the moment and engaging ourselves fully in the right now. Let’s not scoff at the daily tasks that seem so tiresome and take so long to complete. Let’s not be anxious to move onto greater things. Know that each task, each piece of the day is a gift from the Gift Giver, to be opened slowly and enjoyed fully. For it is the simple things each day that will always bring us the greatest pleasure and stir the fondest memories.