As many of you know who read this blog, I live in close proximity to the Washington National Cathedral. It almost makes up for the fact that I live in one of the tiniest apartments known to mankind. Almost.
The best part of living next to the cathedral, aside from the bells on Sunday afternoon, is taking Winston for a walk every morning. It’s all I can do to hold on to him as he bounds in and out of flower patches in the bishop’s garden or nudges at the heels of kids walking across the street to school. For those few minutes each day, it’s almost like I’ve stepped outside of one of the busiest cities in the world and into simpler times.
Although, I must make a confession: most days, I don’t even see the cathedral.
It’s sad, but it’s true. There are legitimately days that I will spend 15-20 minutes walking around this gargantuan limestone castle, and not even notice it’s there. Maybe I’m caught up in morning anxieties, my upcoming work day, or wishing that Winston would stop taking so much time to smell the flowers because he is ruining my perfectly constructed morning routine.
I’ll get back to my apartment and on with my day, all the while completely unaware that I missed a moment to be outside of myself and my Type A brain. I missed the cathedral.
Last week on one of my walks, I dropped my keys. Frustrated and fumbling, I went to pick them up, then had a moment where I got back up and noticed it. This massive stone beauty, this symbol of peace. This (what should be) daily reminder of God’s grace and provision to me here in a new city. I actually took a moment and saw it for what it was. My frustrations and stresses seemed to dissipate almost instantly.
The world around us is so saturated with beauty, but most of us have forgotten to see. Our minds are so bombarded with stimulation that we flit back from phone to computer screen to text message to calendar and never really get “it” at all. We’re so caught up in our careers that we miss the concept of vocation, so caught up in our Instagram following that we miss the concept of relationship, so caught up in our schedules that we miss the concept of just being.
I know that the term mindfulness can elicit eye rolls and little else, but coming to the realization that we live in the most stimulated yet disconnected times made me reconsider. For me, mindfulness is remembering the essence of things—what they really are, not what we distort them to be.
The drunk man wandering on the streets is still a person. The job that seems like a glorified internship is still an opportunity. The friend who gets a little too loud at parties is still a friend. Our existence is hard and messy, but I still have a hunch that it’s worth something.
Now when I’m on my walk, even when I’m still plagued by anxieties and thoughts, on a good day, I stop and ask myself: “did you see the cathedral?” Our lives are short, wild, glorious things—let’s remember to look up every once in a while and see.