i wrote this post yesterday
This morning I awoke in the cold dark, sad from painful dreams, my heart weighed down by too much sad news. A dear friend's father is dying. Another friend just rushed to her family home to get in a visit while her "Grandma is still Grandma." Another friend just kept vigil on the third anniversary of her son's sudden death. Yet another friend wept at lunch the other day, grieving the death of her marriage. My own family is facing health problems and financial stress. My country is getting clobbered by a contentious election. Humans keep eating each other. (Seriously. What the hell, people??)
That's just too much for 6am Monday morning.
And it is definitely Monday. I have a huge to do list, filled with regular weekly tasks (budget spreadsheet, cleaning, laundry, etc.) as well as preparation for a pumpkin carving party tonight, a Halloween block party Wednesday, and my in-laws anniversary party* Saturday. And of course, tickling my mind, are the "coming up" tasks that need to be addressed starting next week: a couple double dates to organize, Thanksgiving travel and menu to arrange, a fancy Whiskey Tasting event to prepare for, and holysmokesChristmasisalmosthereandwehaventstartedanythingyetackackack! And after Christmas my job search kicks into high gear and we want to find a new place to live and then packing and moving and setting up and...
Balance? What balance? How do you balance the Mother of All Todo Lists with a Wounded Heart? Maybe like this:
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. ~ Isaiah 30:15
I keep coming back to this. I've written about it before. A couple of times.
This verse speaks to me of the difference between what is needed and what is needed. Yes, yes. I need to clean and shop and bake and build and organize and arrange. I really do need to pay the bills and get the oil changed and the tires rotated and spread the mulch pile. I need to see if the extension chord will reach outside, and if we have propane for the lantern and batteries for the carving tools and cinnamon for the apples... I need to find a job and find a new house and figure out a paleo version of Thanksgiving stuffing. Yes, yes. Of course.
Nevertheless, this morning, before launching into my errands and tasks, I hauled a wicker chair from the porch into a patch of sunshine on the front lawn. I poured a cup of half-caf, grabbed my journal, and a hat, and just took 20 minutes for quietness and rest. I attended to the million blades of grass coated with dazzling crystalline dew drops. I noted the silken streaks of spiderwebs shimmering in the morning light. I watched the leaves on our neighbor's tree flutter in the breeze, and observed the color change beginning on my street. I drank in the bright oranges, yellows, pinks, reds, purples, and white from our little garden. I enjoyed our cute bats.
I sipped and looked and let myself be a soul inside this body. I let that soul take in as much beauty as it could in that 20 minutes. I prayed and cursed the darkness as I sat in that pool of light. "Oh Lord, make haste to help us." I prayed and marveled that I could be sitting under blue skies in a pool of golden autumn light while a hurricane pounds my East coast friends. I prayed and stilled my heart.
This is not easy for me.
I do not rest well. I am Action Girl. Solve all the problems! Do all the things! Fix the broken stuff! Bring order to the chaos! Organize! Alphabetize! And when facing a bunch of projects, I want to cross stuff off the list(s)! Right now! Get'erdone!
But a wounded heart needs mending. An introverted soul needs time to think and feel and process all it has absorbed in recent days. Tense muscles need to stretch and unclench and release. I need to breathe. And to pray. And if I try to bang through my tasks and deadlines and projects without caring for my soul? Well, it just goes badly. Nothing gets done and I am a mess. And I have learned the hard way, that my neglected soul shrivels up eventually, and I am left a wraith - neither living nor dead.
So today - what was needed was for me to sit on the lawn and drink coffee in the sun, To Do List be damned. The list is still there of course. And huge. And it will all get done. And it will get done more efficiently and less frazzly because I did what was needed first.
On days when I don't have 20 minutes, or a sunny lawn, I try to do something. Even five minutes helps. A two minute break to microwave some tea, curl my hands around a warm cup, breathe in the steam, and remember that I am a person. Taize music in my ears as I crunch on a deadline. Thirty seconds to appreciate the verdant grass beneath rainy skies. And some days I only have time to light a candle in the 6 am cold and take in a few slow, deep breaths as I try to remember that stars are twinkling above the hurricane.