Have you watched dragonflies today? Have you looked up from your tasks to notice the clouds drifting past? As we pass the midpoint of summer, these questions arise to keep us balanced as we prepare for a new cycle of growth, a new school year (no matter how old we are!). And we have to interrupt ourselves to notice the beauty, the kindness, the creative. We are wired to notice and respond to threat. This keeps us alive. In contrast, we have to create habits of attention that root us in the joy of life. When I was raising young children, I used to take refuge from the relentless needs of parenting young children in daydream of going on silent retreat for a year (or three); I assumed it would take vast stretches of peace to remember what balance felt like. And then my friend Robin would appear, to babysit my kids for the afternoon. I’d go roaming in the rose garden at the end of my street; not being productive, just present, to the beauty around me, present to myself. Coming back to the house, I was renewed, refreshed, in balance again. Not a year. An hour! Today, my children have children. I watch them struggle to stay in balance. I too lose balance, but not because of young children, but because of privileging an aggressive To Do list. I’m trying to pay attention to early warning signs of imbalance: grumpinesss or a stiff back. How do we interrupt the pattern? The Pause that Refreshes: I look up, at something beautiful. Sometimes I get up and stretch. Or get a glass of water. And let hyperfocus go. And I remember that I am part of all this, the great spaciousness, present and evolving around me and through me all day. Opening me again to the great presence within each of us and all around us, waiting for us to pause. And then to play. To create. Together. Rev. Mary