As a child I looked forward to trips to Fargo, North Dakota and spending time with my grandparents. Sometimes these trips were with my parents and siblings and sometimes I got to go solo. My parents had many friends who had left Fargo for Minneapolis. For us children our mom and dad could send us to Fargo with another family who were going to there for their own family visit.
My Grandmother Erickson was a staunch Scandinavian Lutheran. She was a first generation immigrant and survived living on the North Dakota prairie with a large family on a small homesteaded farm. She was raised finding solace in hymns, Bible scriptures and lessons from the Bible. She taught me hymns from the Lutheran Hymnal, Bible quotes, and recounted stories with a moral lesson as a child. This was part of baking pies, swishing dishes in her big kitchen farm style sink filled with soapy water while watching her boil quart jars for canning fruit. She was no-nonsense and strident. Being attentive was my way of feeling close to her. I can honestly say that my grandmother’s interpretation of Lutheranism did not stick to me, however memorizing Psalm 23 did.
In this climate of political change the phrase “Lead me to still waters” keeps coming into my consciousness. I cannot turn on the TV, read Facebook postings from friends, or engage in face-to-face conversations with friends without feeling despondent and wondering how to find those still waters. The still waters I visualize are waters that flow very slowly and calmly; bringing much peace and rest to my spirit. One of the most relaxing things in life is the sound of a bubbling brook or flowing stream of water… it is something that brings me to a place of calm, where I can focus without any distractions. I did not understand that interpretation as a child but the phrase did stick.
Today I seek those still waters and I have watched myself find them. I have come to realize that without intentionality my “still waters” takes a number of metaphors in my life. My sketchbook is a place where I can find calm and focus without distraction. I realize that when I open a page my mind will quiet and my hand holding a drawing tool will put my focus to something that brings peace and rest to my spirit. I draw not to create a masterpiece or something to frame and exhibit but to find a sense of peace.
As I move through the days and months ahead the phrase “Lead me to still waters” will help me awake each day with the feeling of balance. My still waters might be in my sketchbook, a donation to a non-profit under siege, or hands-on work with a group of like-minded organizations that need volunteers. I know that journey for still waters will “restore my soul.” In today’s word of political mayhem and Facebook posts I do not always see the goodness of people. In still waters I can, and then discern how I want to proceed.
That was the lesson from my grandmother’s kitchen.