This week’s post was written by Lydia Powers, a teacher and Christian blogger in the Washington area.
As I was prepping for my family’s upcoming July 4th festivities, my brain was working hard to keep track of all of the ingredients necessary to tackle my latest Pinterest recipe find. In no time at all, my mental checklist had conquered two of our local grocery stores. Yet, after loading my car with most of the necessary items, I found myself still in need of one more elusive herb that could not be forgone in my recipe – fresh mint. As I made my way down the hill to the most expensive grocery option in the area, a slight frustration rose up inside of me.
I knew this fate awaited: I was about to pay several dollars for a cornerstone ingredient that I could have grown myself.
It was then that my mind went into overdrive:
- I imagined myself buying a pack of seeds, planting them, and yielding a harvest.
- I contacted a gardener-friend to see how difficult the plant was to maintain.
- There was no doubt in my mind that if I did not need the ingredient for my recipe the next day, I was fully capable, and even desired to grow my own.
Wait a second…What was this foreign sensation that had taken over my thoughts?
Was this not my season of REST from labor?
Did not 9 months with a classroom of students suffice?
And yet, it was clear that during the pause of my academic year—my time of labor—a space had been created that allowed my heart and mind to open up again to a small, and oft-forgotten subtlety of a well-lived life.
I found space to dream again.
Here, I could not only see new ways to tackle a problem, but I was also confident that I had the capacity to follow-through.
You might be wondering why this moment caught me by surprise.
Have you ever seen a race horse with blinders on?
Race horses train at the highest speeds to reach a definite finish line.
However, there is one special piece of equipment with which some horses train and race that might seem unusual in other competitive arenas. These animals are equipped with blinders – a special device that is placed near their eyes to block their peripheral vision. These devices are used so that the horses can maintain perfect focus on their goal ahead, and allow nothing behind or next to them to defer the attainment of their goal.
Like most places of employment, I work in a place where I had a definitive goal and time-frame in which to complete it. In 9 months, I was required to help 25 10-year-olds grow by at least one grade level in each of their academic content areas. This was a large task during which I encountered many possible distractions. However, as I employed the training that I had received over the years, I knew that I needed to eliminate as much unnecessary external stimuli as possible so that I could effectively reach my goal in a timely manner. At the end of May, I obtained my goal, and 25 4th graders were promoted to 5th grade.
The summer – the finish of my race – has left me with space. I hadn’t realized it, but suddenly the proverbial blinders of my life had been removed. They were no longer needed after the completion of my task.
My typical trip to the store to buy a missing ingredient turned into a moment where I was surprised by the interruption of my own mind dreaming of new work to yield harvest.
And now I am left in a beautiful, green, wide-open pasture, summer, in which to roam and see the subtle intricacies life once again.
Certainly, there are seasons in which we are called to meet goals with pressing deadlines. Sometimes those seasons require us to silence distractions and press forward. However, there are also seasons where the Lord makes the invitation to dream abundantly clear, and invites us further to rejoice in the moments where dreaming leads to more work of our hands and experiencing the fruit (or herb) thereof!
My challenge to you is this: do not avoid an invitation to dream. When you feel the perhaps-forgotten spark in your heart of a new thought or idea, pause and reflect that this could be an invitation from the Lord to notice that your blinders have come off, and that you are experiencing the season to abide in the green pastures of life once again.
Blog Update: The recipe was made with store-bought mint, and was still thoroughly delicious.
However, Lydia has since purchased a window-box in which she plans to start her own herb garden.
Any tips on gardening will be happily embraced.
As a teacher, I know that my dreams so often are linked to the classroom. With so many young lives in our care, it is tempting to continue our work throughout the summer months to prepare for the next class on the horizon. However, it is also vitally important to remember that the Lord has gifted us with so many other beautiful parts to this life!
Over the next week, I challenge you to put down the teacher’s manual or latest Pinterest classroom idea, and find a quiet space with the Lord. Challenge yourself to be vulnerable and ask the Lord to awaken the perhaps-forgotten dreams of your heart or awaken new dreams for life outside of the workplace!
Be still and listen to His response.
You too might be surprised to find yourself in a spacious, green pasture filled alive with His hope.