Every now and again, a wave of genius hits me. (Ha!) I had one such brainstorm recently. For years, I have been trying to replace an expensive down-filled quilt I bought, now battered by the years. A new queen-size duvet, which is what I really needed, was impossibly out of my league. Try to find the right duvet and the money together at the same time! Considering how much of life is spent in sleep, perfect bed linens are a non-negotiable, personal luxury. Occasionally, second-hand shopping would bless me with another meagre castoff to layer with the last. Eventually, I actually had collected three of them: half-filled, twin-size, well-worn feather quilts – none of which answered the problem of night-time comfort to any great gratification.
Enter, Brilliant Plan. Assessing that I might now possess enough feathers combined to reduce down to one fully filled duvet, I proceeded to devise the most efficient execution. Entire military campaigns have been conducted with less attention to detail! If you’ve ever tried to move varying qualities of downy feathers from one venue to another, you are already laughing. It’s ridiculous, to put it mildly; a messy, diddly, frustrating job with a high percentage of unavoidable waste. That I would even consider it is the mark of my desperation. I’m still picking feathers out from every corner.
I’ll spare you the details of my plan to shake existing plumage down to a useful position for extraction, or the time and energy it takes to wrangle a full sized, puffed-up quilt around on an average sewing machine. Impossible to capture how physically exhausting the two-day skirmish turned out to be. But as is often the case, there was a silver lining amidst all the concentrated confusion. A sudden, suspended moment of pure, spiritual Eureka! awaited me.
My grandmother had once purchased a magnificently expensive 100% down quilt, of which I possessed the pitiful remains. As I scrounged around in the baffles for the last wisps of down, I had to burst out laughing. It was literally hopeless. The slightest breath of movement sent them swirling, dancing blithely, illusively scattering. So weightless, so buoyant were these miraculous guardians of heat that to seize them was simply impossible. How maddening!! How vexatious!! How breathtakingly lovely! As I watched another silky-fine fluff waft past my face, I stopped my determined tasking to marvel. How I coveted that wondrous motion for myself! I yearn to glide, suspended, lighter than air, as innocently and sweetly unburdened!
These downy plumes suddenly remind me of the power of letting go. So much of our everyday lives are spent scrapping and scrimping, grinding and grasping, bartering and blustering. This is the standard for existence here on planet earth; you’d better know how to hustle. Dog eat Dog. Survival of the fittest. We mentally hunker down with our teeth bared and a low growl menacing. Without realizing it, we’ve accepted the burdens of Babylon because it doesn’t seem like there is any other way. A very real spiritual entity dominates our thinking; The Prince of the Power of the Air.
To you, who were spiritually dead all the time that you drifted along on the stream of this world’s ideas of living, and obeyed its unseen ruler (who is still operating in those who do not respond to the truth of God), to you Christ has given life! We all lived like that in the past, and followed the impulses and imaginations of our evil nature, being in fact under the wrath of God by nature, like everyone else.
Ephesians 2:1-4 JB Phillips
It’s deadly easy to be swept along this great secular tide. Most of us yield to the dark side of worry, anxiety, trouble and intimidation without resistance. Our hateful enemy piles the burdens on us, making life incessantly difficult. Like colicky children we resist all God’s efforts to set us free; unable to walk this life without unnecessary cargo, material or mental. To be honest, I don’t think many of us have a clue about the true power of surrender.
In the Gospels, Jesus starts His ministry with a revolutionary series of teachings that fly in the religious face of His (and our) time. They haven’t lost a whit of their anti-establishment punch to the solar plexus. Yes, I’m talking about The Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:1-10 NKJV
In a stunning brevity of words, Jesus reveals a wavelength very few discover; the power of a life yielded. Something about this scripture perfectly captures the ethereal movement of my rogue eiderdown lofting in the air: effortless, graceful, lithe, surrendered. When we stop buying into world definitions of power and being slaves to success or achievement, we discover the true authority upholding the universe. These are the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ that characterize the Kingdom of God, but you have to stand still long enough to find them. In the end, mastery belongs not to the voracious, but to the humble, meek, gentle and self-effacing.
Lord, restore to me the confident serenity to trust absolutely in the Holy Spirit. Give me back the weightless ballet of grace I was created for. Let me move easily upon His will, sustained by energy beyond my ken. Let the gust take me where it will; whether it’s the breath of God or the blasting of tyrants, all is well.
Despite the odds, my piecework duvet turned out marvelously. Ha! I’m sleeping on the clouds now.
cb Image by Bing