Last year I travelled to Italy where I wandered, dumbstruck, through church after church, as my world was transformed by the beauty of stuccoes and sculptures and paintings and architecture; all created to make the Glory of God in Heaven (and, yes, the power of the Catholic Church,) tangible here on Earth.
This week, sitting on the beach with a book, I watch a toddler marching unsteadily back and forth across a shallow pool created by the incoming tide and a line of rocks. In his fist he holds a soggy paper cup which he fills with sand and then, wading into the pool, with water. At the rocks, he dumps the contents of the cup then turns around to walk back to the sand to start all over again. When he slips and falls over he looks up, puzzled, and tries again. Then he looks towards his dad, and smiles a dimply smile.
We love to work. To be busy – to do, make, create, dream – is hard-wired in us. In children we call it play; as adults we call it a job and it pales and we long for holidays – so we can do a spot of gardening, or surf, or climb mountains or travel to distant cities or read books on the beach.
It is tiring, all this doing. So on Monday nights I go to yoga, where my teacher encourages me to still my “monkey brain”; to empty my mind of thoughts so that I can give up the notion that “I” am somehow separate from “you,” or from the glorious Universe in which we live. And sometimes I expand to become both a small pin-prick part of this Universe and all of it – but only fleetingly; that hard-wired urge to think, to notice, to talk to myself, to reflect on the day past and plan the day ahead floods in and the moment is gone.
But not forgotten. Somewhere deep inside me I hold on to the memory of that moment so that, maybe, my doing, my work, can be more than simply satisfying the monkey brain. Maybe it can be of service; to you, to the Universe, to the wonder that is life, and to the glory of God, whatever that may be.