Savouring Life

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 Savouring Life

I’m just back from vacation in Alaska and, oh my, what a feast for the senses.  Unbelievable vistas, breathtaking mountains and glaciers, bracingly clean air to breath, and bountiful fresh seafood!  I spent much of my time there in wordless wonder, trying to take in fully the beauty of God’s incredible creation in that rugged part of the world.  I came back feeling satiated.  And so grateful.

But I also came back with a strong reminder to savour the good gifts that God has given us, to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Vacation is a great way to rest and relax, but it’s also a time for reflection.  And as I ponder the lessons learned, I realize that my mindset while on vacation can be my perspective all the time.  Hmmmm…. How might that transform my daily life and my capacity to experience joy?  Even when life gets tough?

Today is the first day back to school for most Canadian students, and for me – with two teens in high school – September feels like new beginnings.  A time to start afresh.  So my resolution as I start a new season:  I choose to sit in the space of savouring – relishing every moment and recognizing the hand of God in every experience of my day, even in my daily routine.  I choose to slow down and appreciate his good gifts, rather than rush through my day to get to the next thing.

I choose to:

Savour Beauty:  Even now as I’m working, I’m sitting by the lake, watching the ripples of water flowing by.  I’m seeing the wildflowers swaying in the breeze (okay, they may be weeds but they’re still pretty).  I’m smelling the fresh cut grass as my husband mows the lawn.  Yes, I’m busy focusing on my writing task, but I can still pause and celebrate the beauty around me (even the glitter of nail polish on my pedicure as I glance down – a distraction but it makes me smile nevertheless).  Look around you every day.  Have you ever stopped to stare at something and just drink it all in?  I promise you, there is beauty everywhere around you if you choose to look for it.   There’s something in our soul that resonates with beauty and we feel a lift.

Savour Love:  On this vacation, I spent a lot of one-on-one time with my husband.  And I was reminded how much I relish spending time with him – the times of laughter and fun, adventure, affection, and yes, passion. I love the guy.  And when we took time to savour each other and our marriage, it was wonderfully rewarding.  It drew us closer to each other.  But you know, many times we focus on our spouses’ flaws, the ways they let us down or irritate us.  I spend too many hours listening to people complain about their spouses in my office.  Don’t get me wrong; there are some seriously messed up things happening in marriages and I don’t want to make light of it.  But I wonder:  if we took the time to savour the gift of our spouse, how might that change our perspective?  I have found that one of my biggest defenses against discontentment in my marriage is to recount regularly in my mind all the ways that I love my husband and what I appreciate about him.  That helps me to sit in the pocket of gratitude.  To savour the gift of our love.  Is this something you could try?  How might it transform your marriage?

Savour Friendship:  We also chose to travel with another couple for this vacation, and oh boy, what a blast we had!  There’s something deeply bonding about shared experiences and adventures.  And for those of you who don’t have a partner or spouse, you can savour love through savouring friendships.  God has given us the gift of people around us – and as imperfect as we all are, there is a joy in our hearts when we’re able to connect with friends.  Yes, friends can hurt us and let us down sometimes, but they still worth investing our time and our heart.  What about you?  Fight for your friendships; don’t give up.  Don’t let busyness or fear prevent you from reaching out to friends.  Think about some of your closest friends right now, and savour in gratitude all you love about them.  And maybe drop them a line or two to let them know!

Savour Laughter:  I know that God has a great sense of humour.  I mean, look around at some of the quirky things he has created, and you know he is funny.  Consider how life-giving laughter is and how right it feels.  How it must be a gift from God.  But how often do we face into life with a grim attitude and forget to let loose?  Research shows that laughter is very good for one’s physical and emotional health – and I have seen humour change relationship dynamics in a second.  After spending time recently with close friends, we had so many running jokes we had to start a list of “quotable tweets” (which of course will never see the light of day because they would be too embarrassing).  When we get caught up in the busyness of life, we often forget to laugh.  We forget to savour funny things.  When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?  Or you laughed so hard you started hiccupping or snorting?  Go for it – find someone to laugh with and let loose!  Learn to laugh at yourself!  You can laugh, even in the midst of crisis or tragedy – not to forget your troubles but to bring some much needed light into a difficult situation.

Savour Rest:  I love my pillow.  And I love sleep.  After a busy and tiring day, there is nothing more pleasurable than sinking into my bed and saying, “ahhhhh” as I settle in for a good night’s rest.  Rest is something that gets shortchanged in our busy lives; more people are sleep deprived than ever and their health and lives are showing the consequences of this.  Besides sleep, when was the last time you took time out just to put your feet up?  To rest for as long as you needed, without feeling guilty?  Rest is a gift from God; in fact it is commanded we do this.  Some people confuse the Sabbath with merely a religious day to be holy and do religious activities, but I’m pretty sure God intended it also as a time of rest.  Not necessarily always just on Sunday (or Saturday if that’s your Sabbath), but as a habitual way of creating rhythm in your life.  Work then rest, before working again.  So why don’t you try it?  And when you rest, do it deeply and savour it.  Ahhhhh…..

Savour PleasureI think pleasure gets a bad rap in our Christian world, maybe because it’s seen as one small step away from sin.  But I think we do God a disservice when we don’t enjoy with gratitude the sensory pleasures he has gifted us with:  the bursts of flavour sensations on our palate as we enjoy good food; the tickle in our nostrils as we sample champagne, the satisfying “mmmmm” we feel in our bones when we experience a spa treatment, the feeling of deep relaxation as we sink into a hot bubble bath.  For me, my vacation was a reminder that pleasure is a gift from God.  Okay, I may have indulged a bit too much on the delicious food provided, but I still think we are meant to savour sensually, and without guilt.  We aren’t meant to grit our teeth and survive through our time here on earth.  This “sacrifice and suffer” theology – yes, it is a part of our reality this side of heaven – isn’t meant to define our whole life on earth.  We are meant to enjoy a small taste of heaven on earth through the gift of pleasure.  So next time, why don’t you choose to sit down and savour the taste of your meal, rather than gulp it down quickly while on the run to something else?  Why don’t you choose to treat yourself to something that pleasures your senses?

Savour FamilyComing home from vacation, there was nothing I craved more than to see my kids.  It’s funny how when you’re apart from them, you don’t think of all the annoying things they do to drive you nuts, but instead, you think longingly of all you miss about them.  My son does this really great thing when he’s in the car seated behind me – he’ll tap me on the head and reach up to grab hold of my hand.  He did it just yesterday and boy, did I savour every sweet moment of that short connection!  Parents – if you’ve been given the gift of kids – please savour them!  Remember what a gift they are and how quickly your time with them will pass.  Grab hold of every opportunity you’re given to spend time with them, make them a priority in your life, show them they matter.  And have fun together!  Let your home ring with laughter and pleasure in each other.  And steep your family in prayer and fight the battle for them as the world and the enemy tries to steal them away.

Savour Work:  I didn’t think about work as one of the pleasures in life (I mean, really?) but I realized that in coming back from vacation, I was feeling thankful for my work.  I have been given the wonderful gift of a great job.  What can I say?  I love what I do!  I have to admit it’s not always easy dragging myself to work each morning.  But coming back from vacation, I reflected on how grateful I am to have work I am good at and can enjoy.  I thought about all the ways I get to savour the gift of a job well done, and the satisfaction of knowing I have accomplished something. I know not all of you are similarly blessed as some of you are in very difficult and stressful work situations.  But if this isn’t your reality, maybe it’s time to do something about making some much needed changes – don’t let fear and all the “what ifs” stop you from pursuing work you can enjoy.  (Lest you think that I just fell into this great job because I’m “lucky”, know that I had to fight hard and risk much to do what I’m doing now.)  Even so, is there anything you can savour now about your current work?  If it’s not your job, what about the labour of your hands?  Even seeing dirty dishes become squeaky clean can be savoured.

Well, I’m sure there are many more things that we can savour.  Each day brings its own gifts to enjoy!  Here’s an idea:  why don’t you continue with this exercise and come up with your own list of things to savour?  Go for it!  See how long a list you can make!  See how it can transform the way you experience your life.  And share your joy with others as you choose to taste and see that the Lord is good.

 

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