Tree cutters have invaded the neighborhood recently. You can tell by my choice of words how I feel about it. In theory, I understand the need for them, but viscerally, in my heart, I have trouble approving what they do. Something deep in my desert dweller soul mourns the destruction of any tree.
As I was walking by one of the tree-cutting trucks recently, focusing very hard on not scowling at all the workers standing nearby, one of the signs painted on the side of the truck caught my eye.
While the sign was obviously warning me to watch for falling branches, I began to think about its message in broader terms. There are many times when I get stuck “in my head,” brooding about something (like how much I dislike the people cutting down trees), or just so intently focused on my own problems that I forget to look up. I forget to be present and aware to what is actually happening, in the real world, all around me. It is so easy to miss beauty. How many of have been so busy these past couple of months that we’ve forgotten to take some time to look at the absolutely glorious splendor of the leaves changing colors? How many of us get so hyper-focused on work, or on the 24-hour news cycle or social media, that we forget to look up at the wondrous faces of the people that God has put in our lives—our children, our parents, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers—each one a precious and unique child of God, each one a treasure that enriches our lives in ways we rarely take the time to think about. How many of us get so focused on the pile of work we have to do, or the pile of bills we have to pay, or the thousands of daily tasks and details that the prayer book calls, “the cares and occupations of this life,” that we fail to look up, to realize the enormous gifts that God has given each and every one of us, and be grateful. We all need to look up. For our sanity’s sake, we need to look up; for the sake of living a life that is worth living, a life of gratitude, a life that values relationships, a life that is shaped by an awareness of God’s grace. Look up and live!