This past weekend, I was in DC visiting some old friends. It was a truly delightful time, including lunch in Bethesda, sightseeing in Georgetown and a late summer dip in a friend's pool. Lots to enjoy, for sure!
On the way home, I happened to catch a live performance of the National Symphony Orchestra featuring the new Maestro Chrisoph Eschenbach directing the Gala Opening Concert of the season. You could tell the audience was in a state of great anticipation - would there be magic between the orchestra and thier new conductor? By the sound of the applause after the first number, they seemed to be well-satisfied. During the intermission, one of WETA's staff interviewed several people backstage; the question on his mind: What do you think of the new conductor? Renee Fleming, a renowned soprano, spoke in glowing terms of a friendship with Christoph and his mentoring role at the beginning of her career. The CEO of the Orchestra spoke of the maestro's ability to combine a musicality that sprang not only from the head but also from the heart. But my favorite comment came from the double bass player. "Eschenbach", he said, "directs from a heart of peace. All else springs from that."
While I don't know what that might mean for Christoph Eschenbach, I can imagine what it might look like in my life. To be at a place of peace means that I am free from conflict, I am content in myself and in my surroundings. I have a faith in the situations I find myself in, faith that I will have enough, that I will BE enough to live out of love. To be at peace means that I have nothing to prove, no voices to silence, that I am free to live as the moment requires. To listen, to speak, to do, to reflect - that my mind is quiet of static and able to hear the prompting of the Spirit. It's a worthy goal, I think - to seek peace and pursue it. And I have a hopeful expectation that living in this way will result in some marvelous melodies and harmonies in the world around me.
A hummingbird has become a regular visitor to our front balcony. Sitting on one of the two "Sarchi' rockingchairs we brought back from Costa Rica, I am often delighted to see this delicate creature fluttering around my red mandevilla vines or sipping daintily from the patch of colorful zinnias that anchor the back corner of the porch. Seeing this hummingbird makes me happy. Yesterday, while enjoying lunch with a friend, I mentioned the hummingbird. It's so fun to have a hummingbird, I said. It makes me feel blessed. If the census taker came back, I would want to say, 'Our household consists of two adults and a hummingbird!' And the funny thing is that the hummingbird mostly ignores the hummingbird feeder that is on the other side of the balcony, choosing instead to meander among the flowers by the rockers. Who knew they would attract the beautiful bird? But they do and sometimes she'll stay for several minutes, sharing the morning sun with me.
The hummingbird seems like a gift, and my enjoyment of that gift the appropriate response. But it's not only an appropriate response, in the sense of being the 'right' thing to do for some categorical reason. It's also a life-giving response. To be filled with joy makes me more alive. I'm guessing that the quality of my life is directly proportional to the things that I am able to enjoy. Smling at the hummingbird connects my soul to the goodness of the universe; it also enlarges my heart.
This morning Dan read the verse from Psalm 81:10 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egype. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it with good things." The psalm continues by saying that the Israelites would not submit - isn't that interesting? to use the word "submit" in the context of receiving something good from God. I remember when my children would clam up tight at swallowing some medicine, perhaps remembering the taste from a previous experience. But I never remember them pursing their lips or turning away from ice cream, or cinnamon buns or fresh green beans. Why did they, why do we close our mouths from receiving the good things that God has for us? I don't know the answer - perhaps we are deceived. Perhaps we get busy chasing our own whirlwinds. Perhaps we get confused by what's really good for our souls. Perhaps we forget to enjoy the gift of hummingbirds.