Dipped In Beauty: Finding renewal and breaking out of your rut

In March, at the beginning of the pandemic, I was glad to stay home. As an introvert and homebody, the mandate didn't scare me. 

If anything, I was already used to it. I quit working six years ago due to my disability, and with limited physical strength, my activity level was minimal.

I thought to myself, I've got this.

I listened to others as they struggled with the homebound changes and secretly thought, Welcome to my life.

Gradually, I began to miss my occasional outings to physical therapy, massage, and book club, but I was still content in my house.

Nine weeks in, I wrote about the difficulty in finding Doorways. I spoke of seeing the light through the cracks in the darkness and gave a list of ways to find them for yourself. I was challenged yet hopeful about my days at home.

Then my state entered Phase Two of its reopening plan, and people began venturing out again. However, I had to watch the slow return from my couch. My complex health issues put me in the "at-risk" category, so my self-quarantine is extended indefinitely, likely until there's a reliable vaccine. 

It's as if the coronavirus was unexpected company who has showed up on my doorstep with piles of luggage and decided to move into my guest room until it "finds a place of its own."

You know it will end eventually, but you don't know when.

From the beginning, I've used schedules and routines to structure and guide my days. As a planner, this has given me comfort and security, too. 

But six weeks after writing that Finding-Doorways post, my routines  lost their consolation. Not only were Doorways difficult to see in the repetitive days, but the flames of inspiration and beauty seemed to have fizzled.

Maybe I wasn't as fine with this as I thought.

***

I went camping for the Fourth of July weekend. I was raised in the tradition of summer camping in the mountains of Southwest Montana, and have continued the seasonal activity as an adult.

Nature is (and has always been) my retreat for rest and renewal. It's the place in which I see and connect with the Creator most clearly.

When I'm surrounded by pine trees under a blanket of cotton-white clouds and vivid-blue sky, I feel as though I've  been immersed in beauty, like a berry is dipped into chocolate.


Camping this weekend was just what my soul needed.

I cleared my calendar and threw off my routines. Instead, I took every opportunity to go riding on the trails, sit and visit (at a distance) with my family, and close my eyes to soak up the warmth of the sun. I was grateful for everything.

After three days I came home physically exhausted but emotionally and spiritually renewed. I had been dipped into beauty and come out richer.

I still have some of my routines but I'm granting myself the grace to change them without guilt.

I'm committed to more camping retreats this summer, and plan to connect with friends and family. And when the seasons eventually change, I'm giving myself permission to change things up, too.

I know there will be days when I'm not fine, but with gratitude and beauty, I'll get through this. 

And you can, too.

Where do you feel dipped in beauty?

What would it look like if you let beauty change you?

---- 
Some recent Doorways:
  • My aunt and uncle drove from Missouri to go camping with us. They brought some huge, yellow tomatoes to share with my mom, and she was so generous, she shared them with me. They were delicious with my grilled cheese sandwich!

  • I watched the movie Just Mercy (I had read the book last year) and was moved to tears by the stories of men awaiting execution, many of them wrongfully convicted. Bryan Stevenson's work with the Equal Justice Initiative is full of compassion and humanity for these forgotten and misjudged people.

  • Shawn bought a glow-in-the-dark ball for our dog, Riley. Watching her chase it at night brought me joy!
Glow in the dark ball
That green, glowing blur is the ball in Riley's mouth as she runs!
  • We had our first in-person, social distancing visit with friends earlier this month. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed seeing people. I felt giddy as we set up on our back deck!


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