On Friday my wife and I went on a lovely date, our first here in Kenya, and after eating dinner we made our way to a small market selling local souvenirs. Before we even reached the market, the vendors spotted us walking across the parking lot. It was nearly closing time, and they were hungry for a final sale before packing up shop for the night.
In an instant we were swarmed. “Come see this,” “Look here,” “I give you good price,” “Come this way…” Desperate hands pulled us through the rows of magnificently handcrafted wooden masks, stone carvings and brightly beaded jewelry. There was so much to see I couldn’t take it all in at once.
Over and over I said, “We are just looking and will come back another time to buy,” but they weren’t buying it. They persisted, trying every trick in the book to make a sale. When Ali and I finally emerged from the chaos, it took us a minute to get our bearings. It felt like we’d been tossed around by a giant ocean wave and thrown onto the shore struggling to breathe.
As we walked away I was really sad that we were not able to truly appreciate and experience the beauty of the items laid out before us in the market because of the aggressiveness of the sellers and the frenzied environment. We swept by stands filled with fascinating items that I really wanted to look at and ask questions about, but in the end we were not able to enjoy anything the market had to offer. We exited with empty hands and weary hearts.
I can’t help but think there is a strong parallel between the Maasai market we visited and the larger world we are living in. Daily we find ourselves amidst God’s magnificent creations, but we do not take time to notice. People, marvelously crafted in God’s image, pass us by, vast skies hover over us and the sound of songbirds fill the air. The spark of our creative God is made manifest all around us, but we are too overwhelmed to notice. We are overwhelmed by a world that is constantly tugging at us, shouting, trying to sell us things, pulling us this way and that. There is no time to tarry. No time to ask questions. No time to stop and admire the beauty and creativity around us.
I came across a great quote this week that said, “Life now requires tenacious mindfulness and discipline to match our choices with our values.” I love this notion of tenacious mindfulness. In world that would rather us live in constant chaos in the pursuit of more stuff and more schooling and more this and more that, it is not enough to simply say, “I don’t want to be a part of that kind of lifestyle.” It is too easy to get sucked in. Too easy to lose sight of our core values that differ from those being impressed upon us at every corner on every sign and pop up ad.
So friends, I invite you this day to take hold of and live with tenacious mindfulness. To be aware of yourself and your surroundings and the deepest yearnings of your heart that cannot be filled by consumerism. I encourage you to find a moment and come up for air and breathe and be at peace in the presence of your Creator. I invite you to not get sucked into the market and and miss the beauty of what God has for you. I encourage you to evaluate if your current lifestyle matches your core values or if you are living in a state of tension that makes peace and contentment evasive fantasies.
May we be a people of tenacious mindfulness rather than a people of constant mayhem. I know that in my own life I have much to learn about mindfulness.