Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hijacked by a guy named Stan

So, it seems that God had a bit of an object lesson in mind for me today.

As I drove out to the lake I was listening to a sermon preached by a guy named Graham Cooke on "Overcoming Negativity". One of the things I noticed in passing was a point he made about losing joy because we are putting it off. A mindset that says, "I'll be glad when such and such ends, or when so and so leaves."

Within minutes of settling myself on a blanket to write (I'd written less than two paragraphs!), a canoe quite literally beached itself in front of me. A canoe manned by a guy named Stan. The winds were too strong for him to make his way back to the spot on the other end of the lake where he was camped, and they forced him ashore.

Stan was a chatty individual, and, though I'd made it clear in the first five minutes of our conversation that I came out to spots like the one I'd made for myself this morning to get away from the city and people and just have some quiet, breathing space, he settled in to talk. Standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling - he chatted with me for a good 45 minutes.

I have been raised to be polite, so I very nicely answered all of his questions and even asked a few in return, but internally I was having a conniption fit. I knew what he could not - that I had planned a limited amount of time in my day for this quiet time of reading and writing before I needed to climb back into George and return to the city. I began to wonder when he'd leave, and God very promptly reminded me of the sermon I'd only just finished listening to, and of my ongoing goal to choose life and joy.

Let me tell you, it wasn't an easy thing. I'd really wanted that time alone, and I've never liked chatting with complete strangers in the first place.

Over and over again I forced myself to focus on Stan, and the conversation we were having, and not to think about the time I'd so desired that was being lost to me. It sort of worked. It certainly got my attention and brought focus to a lesson.

How often do I do that? Cheat myself out of joys in the moment because I'd rather be someplace else or with someone else? I think the answer is disturbingly often.

In any case, when Stan finally left I only had a little bit of time left to sit by the lake. I spent it finishing a few thoughts in my journal, eating the lunch I'd brought, reading a few pages in the book I'm currently working my way through, and taking photos. Because it would seem that Stan's canoe looked quite stunning against the grass and water and mountains and sky.