I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Alicia Dykstra’s wisdom on the gifts of being a “grazer”:
People often say you are what you eat. I never took that too literally, but at one point it occurred to me that the saying is true at many different levels. As a monk in the world we are called to pay attention, so I thought this all through some more and tried to figure out what God was trying to tell me.
I love to graze and nibble snacks all day and rather have a smorgasbord than a ready assembled meal. I’m never satisfied with just three square meals a day, but need little snacks often.
This is true for my quilt work as well. I love collecting bundles of fat quarters or sweet sixteens and put them together in a quilt. My quilting friends will hand me a stack of scraps and say: “You do something with it”.
My taste in books is the same, it’s very eclectic and deals with all kinds of topics and with the E reader I can switch books after a chapter or two if I get bored of one or need a break.
My education is again very wide and diverse and I consider myself a Jill of all trades and master of not too many. I just love learning new things and if something piques my interest I will google it and collect articles and books about the topic or take a class to learn more.
It also affects my travel style. I like to visit different places every time and meet different people and different cultures and food. I will get the travel guides out and check all the places of interest to visit and learn a few basic phrases in the local language.
What does this all say about my spiritual life then? Am I satisfied with following one God and how do I exercise my faith?
The answer to the question is a full hearted “yes!” I do believe there is only one God and my grazing side is satisfied in the Trinitarian believe of Father, Son and Spirit. God is the same in character all the time, but reveals himself in so many different ways. And it is a sport to find where and how he reveals himself to me and in totally different ways to other people.
I don’t call myself Reformed or Catholic or Baptist, even though I was raised and attend in these traditions. I believe in unity, but not sameness. That’s what I love about quilting too. You create a unified whole by putting hundreds of different pieces together. God created this world with so much diversity and I believe we are a true representation as the universal church (although our diversity has been and is often used by the Enemy to tear us apart and it is very confusing to explain to new believers).
My dissatisfaction can become a curse and drive the people around me crazy. I can’t sit still for too long or with nothing for my hands to do. As you can imagine I’m a do-er and have a hard time learning to be a “be-ing”. On the other hand I think it’s also a gift.
God did create all of us differently for a reason. My grazing personality forces me to stay open and look for connections. It fuels my creativity to find ways to “do” faith in a way that fits my personality and not feel guilty about it. There is not only one way to be a follower of Christ or to worship God. The psalmist tells us to “taste and see” what God is doing and it has helped me to taste and see God in so many different ways and not to get stuck in a “right” or “wrong” way of doing life.
God and Faith often seem a paradox and that can be scary, but it is so true. As much as I like to graze, I also need to be rooted somewhere. Benedict calls us to stability and as a being on the move all the time I wondered about roots in my life. God called me as a mover but gave me a secure home base both in faith and family. My greatest joy is to show that God is different from what you expect him to be and that he shows up in the most unexpected places. Life is one big puzzle and we don’t need to have all the answers. I trust God to have the big picture and so I graze and collect in the hope that one day the complete picture will be revealed and I hope to inspire the people around me that there are different ways of living out our faith and to encourage them to seek and worship God in a diverse community.
Alicia Dykstra has been married to Terry for 30 years and is the mother of three young adults who move in and out of the house. She was born in the Netherlands but has been living in view of the Rocky Mountains in Calgary, Canada for almost 25 years. She loves learning, eating, travelling, reading, quilting and making new connections.