jSince I have come to Belize eight and a half months ago, I have begun to seriously appreciate hammocks. As they are a fixture at our campus, strategically placed in spots with beautiful views, it is even easier to appreciate them here.
Now, I am not one for just laying around, doing nothing. I like to keep busy most of the time, for better or worse. Living outside of the North American culture that says we must be productive at all times has challenged me on this point. Living where I work, on a campus with college students, has also challenged me. I could work 24-7 almost without realizing it. So my hammock time has become especially important here.
There is something about lying in a hammock that causes you to let go. There is a feeling of being held, being suspended in the air, no longer in control. There is a measure of trust required. It reminds me to stop running around, to stop doing things; it reminds me to just be for a few moments. To become aware of the view of the nearby Maya Mountains, to see the American Redstart flitting in between branches, to notice cohune palms waving in the warm breeze.
Hammocks are good places to pray. I’ve been enjoying Fred Bahnson’s book, Soil & Sacrament (I even wrote a mini review on Circles of Faith). He writes about places of prayer:
“The spiritual ecology of prayer always includes such places of withdrawal—landings, tree stands, a chair by the wood stove—unadorned places where your soul can touch down for a while and simply be. It is in such silent emptiness that God is waiting.”
Lying in a hammock, I don’t need to be doing anything. But I find my mind turning to prayer, easily and without force. As if God is waiting there.