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As I took a walk during my break between classes last month, I ventured down to the waterfront. This is one of my favorite walks when I need to “stretch” and process. I love the sounds that accompany the sights and scents. Having grown up inland in the South, I still associate the cries of the gulls with summer vacation and the Florida beaches. Just by closing my eyes and imagining I can see a myriad of scenes and I only have to walk a few short blocks to be there.

On this particular day, it struck me how we choose to manipulate our environments to produce the results we desire. In this case, beauty and a connection to a part of nature that is not indigenous to this region. What would naturally have been under water, is now wharf and business and pleasure  and transportation – and more room for people. I recently heard a bit of the story about how the hillsides were brought down to the waterfront to create the marinas, wharfs, roadways, and businesses that now occupy the Waterfront.

Not only have humans claimed space that was not originally geographically ours, but we have also brought in plants and trees and other habitats that are not indigenous to the Northwest – this maple for example. Instead of choosing to be at peace with what is, we reconstruct what we think will bring progress and greater opportunity for ourselves. And then we feel the need to bring in beauty to dress it up and make ourselves feel better.

This applies personally as well as communally.

I have very fine, mostly straight hair. Guess how I want it? Curly, of course. For years I regularly permed my hair – think of the expense, the time, and the effort all because I was not satisfied with the way God created me. We do this with so many of our features… our teeth, our noses, our chins, our eyes, our breasts, with age and with weight gain. We want instant results and we want to look like someone else – not like us.

Do we really believe that our Father is such a poor designer – or is it something else? Are we, perhaps, afraid to find the true beauty that lies within us, just the way we are? What is it that prohibits us from coming before God with hearts filled with gratitude and eyes to see the depth of love with which He designed every detail of our beings?

Could it have anything to do with the realization that if I were to accept the way He created me, then I would also be accepting the truth that He created me to do something and to be something for all of humanity. If He created each of us in His image, and we are in community, then we need each other to both complete and be completed. And, we need all the others – yes, even the ones we aren’t at all sure we like. That all. Yes, you, too!

So, back to the moving of earth and the changing of what was. In what ways do we do this spiritually, morally, intellectually? What is it that we bring into our personal lives and environments, our families and communities that does not naturally belong there? How do we manipulate to get what we want and to bring ourselves pleasure?

I wonder what would happen if we would only choose contentment? Could it lead us to more peace and joy? Is there any such possibility as random acts of contentment or expressions of sheer pleasure over God’s creation – even His creation of you and me and our neighbor next to us? Could we possibly start an ever-increasing ripple effect just by choosing to try it out? And what kind of difference could it make?

What if … each person who read this post decided to find one place, one moment, one detail with which to be content and one over which to express joy every day this month? And if asked about what you are doing and why – just tell them. Who knows, maybe they’ll join in, too!

What might that look like for our families and our communities?

If you decide to give it a try, let me know what happens. = )

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