A thought that I often find myself contemplating and that I returned to many times during ‘lockdown’, is what brings joy and peace into my life. I can say that I know it is not the material things that bring a fleeting pleasure. Instead, it is the free, simple things in life that, in my forties, I realise more and more are some of the most important, joyful treasures that I will experience:moments of pure peace and serenity, exhilaration and wonder, love and hope. They need no currency, nor preparation, no material good, just an open heart and an awareness of the world around you.They are often those unplanned, impromptu times that happen when you live in the precious now, not thinking of the past or the future but having awareness of what is happening in the now moment.
These experiences are the gems that replenish me, the little treats that feed my soul and leave that unmistakable feeling of happiness in my core. These moments are the ones where God’s presence and awe are intermingled with a feeling of ease, quiet contemplation and being at peace with the world.Here are a few of my favourite free simple things…….
I love to walk the beach of Rosses Point in Co. Sligo with my family. It is one of the best places I have ever been to and have been lucky to visit many times. When I think of Rosses Point it is with a sense of wonder and awe. The moment I get out of the car that strong often wild, relentless Atlantic wind rushes around you and blows away the remnants of any worries that were playing on your mind.The first breath is magical and cleansing, like balm on a wound. There is that feeling of wonder and something spiritual in the atmosphere of this place. I always send a prayer of thanks into the carrying wind.
Often, there is a light, happy, misty rain that touches your face with a softness like silk, contrasting to the powerful crash of the waves that rush off the rocks. All your senses are fully awakened, relishing the sheer brilliance of this place.The pleasure of walking the beach, my family nearby, drinking in the pure beauty and the feeling of being free.The strength of the place enters your body almost by osmosis, you can feel it in your bones renewing you and your spirit.This is free, this is beautiful, this is close to God.
I have spent time in Downings in Donegal over the last few years with the people I love. We have stayed in a house with a picture window of a breath taking view of the Donegal coastline. I can remember the first time I had the pleasure of standing in front of that view and soaking in the stunning beauty before me.I can remember the peace that descended into my body, removing concern and strife and again, there it was, that feeling of God’s presence and love close by. I have looked through that window on many occasions in all types of weather. I have seen the fiery hues at the end of a summer evening, rain that is battering and almost bruises the pane, the fog gathering in and cloaking the land; yet every time there is something beautiful that calms and pacifies me, holding my gaze, holding me in that appreciative, thankful moment.
Free, simple things have enriched my life: walking home in the summer rain with a stream of my children’s chatter in my ear, skimming stones across the shore-ripple 1 ripple 2 ripple 3 and then 4! Swimming in the ocean with my family,the sun on my face, watching my young nephew running to catch the tail of a fluttering kite in the air, kind deeds, a smile, lighting a candle, a prayer to close the day. This is the stuff of life that brings serenity and joy; that we should always remember to make time for and cherish. Make time this week to add a few of those free, simple treasures to your store.
Yvonne McGowan is a teacher and Religious Education Coordinator in Saint Catherine’s Primary School, Strabane.