As I continue to read the daily devotions in Albert Holtz O.S.B.'s book Pilgrim Road, a Benedictine Journey Through Lent, today's essay mentions an idea Fr. Holtz got from a six-year old friend about "falling up" (the child said that if you let go of a birthday balloon, it will fall up).  Upon seeing a helium balloon lifting off from the grounds of the French chateaux Chambord, he began musing on the idea of "falling up" as a way of getting another view of our own life's landscape.  He suggests that during Lent, we could try falling up so that we might gain new perspective on our lives.  We are often so immersed in all of our everyday concerns and activities that we are not able to see the bigger picture.  If we can occasionally let go of our schedules and routines and daily concerns, we might rise above the mundane to see something larger - which makes some of the stuff we're so caught up in seem smaller and not so important in the grand scheme of things.  And the grand scheme of things itself - well, that's a thing of beauty, if we can poke our heads above our fences and see it.

I was with a group of colleagues recently and we discussed something similar.  When we work with folks who come to us for counsel, we see their big picture and can help them see it, which helps them put their issues in perspective and helps them see how they are connected (in a good way or a bad way) with others.  But with our own stuff, we need others to do the same for us; we often cannot see our own big picture without help.  We remarked about how humbling this can be but also how experiencing it helps us be more compassionate.  Of course people are muddled when they are in the thick of their daily issues within the web of their relationships - friends and family.   So are we!

For me it is crucial to find a balance between paying attention to the real issues of the day and understanding that some of them are literally the issue du jour - here today or this week or this month or this semester, and gone the next.  Being present to what is happening in our lives is good; getting bogged down in petty stuff that saps energy and wastes time and robs us of joy, the small stuff that in the grand scheme is just a blip on the radar, is not so good.

But we can't leave it there.

We need to have the bigger picture in view to see, too, where we are going - or perhaps to identify where we want to go.  It may help us to see, also, where we have come from, where we have been, and where the side roads are and where they lead.  We may even decide to take one or two.... deliberately, for a season.  But knowing where we are going and seeing the wonder that is in - that IS - the world, is what helps us stay out of the "gerbil on a wheel" mentality that is so exhausting and ultimately stultifying.

We have graciously been given life by our Creator, who sent Jesus to live among us and call us to abundant life.  The Christian life is supposed to be a joyful life, with a certain lightness about it ("let not your hearts be heavy," Jesus said) but many of us find that joy eludes us.  Our hearts are often heavy, but they don't always have to be.

So during these last days of Lent, let us think about allowing ourselves to fall up, to get a change of scenery by changing the angle of our vision.  Allow yourself (perhaps with help) to change your view, gain perspective on where you are, where you are going, where you want to go, within the particular landscape your life.  Not so that you can move up the ladder of success, but so that you can see the richness of your surroundings, the beauty of your pathway, the love in which you are embedded, the grace that strengthens you to live out your life with the joy of one who is the beloved of God.