My husband, Dan, and I moved from Denver to Colorado Springs two and a half years ago. The move entailed new jobs for both of us and the dawning of an empty nest. Being in our early to mid 40s, an empty nest at this point in our life came as a jolting halt to our hectic, fun-loving, fast and regularly frantic lifestyle. One may liken it to the same sort of abrupt change that is experienced when exiting a moving walkway found in most major airports- you’re still walking, but the scenery is no longer escaping through a blur of ceaseless demand for your attention.
The last couple of years have occupied us with getting to know a new city, jobs, church, friends, and other endeavors we have chosen to fill in the hours that used to be occupied with nagging about homework, managing both of our businesses, and surviving grad school.
We have lived in the same house, 14 blocks from downtown, since we arrived on scene in July of 2017. The distance allows us to be far enough from the noise, but close enough to walk to dinner, coffee, shops, or through the gorgeous campus of Colorado College’s manicured grounds. We hear the whistle of a train in the distance, which presents the sentiment of warm melancholy on a cold and quiet day. Our house is a 1903 Victorian, built with a partially enclosed “sleeping porch” with large windows that open up to allow the cool night air treat those ailed with tuberculosis- who moved here in search of a cure at the turn of the 20th century. Many of the homes in this neighborhood exhibit the same mark of this fraught trend in local history. Despite the tragic original intention for this house, I can’t help but be hauntingly enchanted by the exquisite characteristics and charms of the place we call home.
Church Bells Ringing
After having settled here long enough to replace old favorite restaurants with new choice eateries, and having discovered all the local shortcuts and scenic routes- an unexpected “new” thing happened this week. While sitting in my kitchen, drinking coffee and reading, I heard church bells. Being blocks from downtown, we live near at least 3 churches that regularly ring bells I have often admired during some of our walks or drives through the city. The bells were playing Christmas music, which was also surprisingly decipherable for never having heard them from inside our home before. I decided that the churches have simply turned up the volume on their modern electronic bell systems since the season seems to call for it. However, three days have now passed since the New Year began, and I still hear church bells at the top of the hour from the comfort of my kitchen table. As if I needed additional coaxing to adore my present home, I am twitter-pated with enthusiasm at my newfound treasure hidden in plain sight, well… earshot.
This realization, while heartwarming, has left me perplexed. Why have I never heard the bells from home before? Have they not been chiming at the onset of the hour for each year and month we have lived here? Have I really been this obtuse to my world? I believe the answer is both yes- and no.
Stress Induced Trauma
Stress induced trauma plays a role in most of our lives. Stress does not have to be boiling over on the front burner for us to experience it. Stress often boils low and evenly on the back burner in all the little hustle and bustle of everyday living. Upcoming concerts, bills, appointments, and deadlines- even the self-induced ones- add to the constant hum of healthy and productive commitments alongside the unwanted daily static. And, to a degree, humans require a measure of stress to maintain balance. This link does a good job of expounding.
The gist of the point is that, despite distractions, beneficial or detrimental- intentional or by chance, we habitually neglect to observe some of life’s frequently understated offerings when we fault to sustain various distractions.
Discover Underlying Joy
I challenge you to find the underlying joy you’ve been missing by becoming especially mindful of your everyday surroundings. Discovering church bells in my kitchen was like finding a random diamond in an already valuable gold mine. Makes me wonder how many other undiscovered diamonds I’ve dismissed on my daily endeavor to unearth and polish gold.
A favorite mindfulness practice of mine is simple and is as follows: Stop. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. To this I would add, name 3 present things you are thankful for in the present. Repeat until you unearth diamonds.~
“Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup. You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6