“Orientation, Disorientation, Reorientation”
This past Sunday we started on a 6-week journey through the Psalms beginning with none other than Psalm 1. I want to come back to what I said on Sunday about “bathing ourselves in nature/bathing ourselves in scripture.” This practice for me is usually easy, but last week I lacked focus. I walked from church to the Victor Community Park and back on my lunch break. I stopped at the pond adjacent to the outdoor amphitheater and sat down. I smelled the fresh cut grass, heard the birds twitter and chirp along with the wind rustling the leaves in the trees; beneath my shoes the water sloshed back and forth as the clouds cast shadows on the dock below me. The sun was almost too hot on my skin, but the wind provided enough buffeting to stir the water and make it pleasant for both me and the fish catching a slide ride from the sloshing motion. You may be thinking, “Pastor Nick, that sounds great!” but I wasn’t really soaking it in. I was distracted and disoriented by my emotions and the days worry. I felt I was wasting time and not being productive.
It struck me yesterday that there’s two things this teaches me, and I hope you learn from this as well: First, I am learning that at times settling my thoughts enough to listen, pray, or take in all that is around me is extremely difficult. Second, I am learning—re-learning actually—that to be a human creation among the rest of God’s creation has meaning in and of itself rather than how “productive” I am.
The invitation Sunday from Psalm 1 was to let ourselves be oriented towards God’s instruction, delighting in what God and Scripture teach us about ourselves and the world. It is an invitation to let ourselves simply be or to simply exist, knowing our worth apart from what is done or what is left undone. Beloved people of God, we are more than what we do! We are loved by God simply because God graciously welcomes us in! It may be hard to practice soaking in life around us, and that’s okay, because being oriented in a different way sometimes means learning how to soak in all that life already gives to us. Sometimes it’s as simple or difficult as taking notice of the trees and birds around us; other times its delighting in the familiar aspects of our faith that keep us trusting in God and seeking to love God with all that we are.