Chips

I’m in the grocery store. My basket is almost full, with cereal and cheese and yoghurt.

I’ve come because I’ve given up on work, on the sermons I have to write. I’m hoping a break will give me the courage for the phone calls I need to make. Mostly I’m hoping it will clear away some of the fog, some of the darkness and despair and suffocating blackness that paralyzes that’s been following me around, clinging with far more strength than I have, that it would take to dislodge it. It followed me to the office; it followed me to the bakery where I had lunch, where I pulled out a book to read and a notebook to take notes and a Bible to work on my sermons. It drove away any thoughts of sermons and obligations and joy, until I gave up, put everything back in my backpack.

It’s snowing as I leave. The trees behind the parking garage have snow-icing already, and thick, fat snowflakes are drifting down and it’s better than a postcard, better than driving in snow with incompetent drivers and almost makes up for it.

It’s the first day of spring.

I try to take a picture with my phone. Every picture shows trees and the ground, snow everywhere across the landscape, with a pipe or concrete ceiling in a corner and five blurs that might be snowflakes. If I really use my imagination.

I trudge to my car, defeated. I just want to slink home. Pretend life doesn’t suck and maybe watch some America’s Next Top Model. I’ve seen every season I can watch for free on Amazon, but damn it, I am so willing to watch them again if maybe I won’t feel crushed by everything else while I’m watching the contestants be covered in body paint and hung upside down and then criticized for having tension in their face.

I really do need food, though.

Which is how we’ve come full circle, back to me in the chips aisle, holding back tears because they don’t stock my favorite flavor anymore. Or, that’s what I tell myself I want to cry about.

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A Walk

It’s barely above freezing, but I’ve opened my coat. There’s still a scarf wrapped around my head, my ears and neck and chin. My hands are in my pockets along with my phone, with headphones snaking up to my ears. I keep having to shove them back in.

I’m walking. I’m going on a walk. Every day for the past week. I’ve been going down roads I had never even really noticed, not knowing where I’m going but knowing how to get back to my apartment. I think I’ve found all the hills, even though there’s plenty of ways I haven’t gone yet.

Today I started off down another road I hadn’t noticed in four months of driving past it, and ended up somewhere I’d already been: the field with impossibly green grass and one single soccer goal placed crookedly somewhere between where it should be and the middle of the field. One side of it drops away to an empty, abandoned-looking pool; the next side is a baseball field crowned with a stone building that looks like the gatehouse to an estate.

I walk around the field. “Open from dawn to dusk,” the sign proclaims, and the sun is up. It’s cold, but that’s been blunted by walking.

I’m not really going anywhere with this: on my walk, other than back to my apartment; with this piece of writing. It was just a moment, one without revelations or tragedies but not without joy and the chill of almost-snow and the ordinariness of an almost-habit.

Worrying

I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying for a while now, but tomorrow I go before Presbytery (the regional church gathering in my denomination) for the final step in the process, the final approval before I can go ahead with my ordination service: I have to defend my statement of faith before Presbytery, and they vote whether to approve my joining the presbytery or not.

I’ve been telling myself that I’m not nervous, that I know my statement of faith and believe it, and that I tend to get the same questions and I can answer them well, that even if I get a question I’m unprepared for I will probably still be able to stumble my way through an answer. I don’t even feel nervous, or didn’t before I tried to fall asleep. It seems doable, and distant enough that I don’t need to worry yet. (That comes in the minutes or hours beforehand). But still I’ve been unfocused and unmotivated all day.

And–I am nervous. It’s the final step, and a big crowd, and I’ll have to be loud. I’m sure at least one question will be unexpected, and I’ll fumble around and just feel so awkward the entire time I’m up there.

I’m just trying to remember that it’s okay to be nervous. It’s natural. It’s okay to acknowledge that I’m nervous and that this is a big deal. It’s okay to name my fears about tomorrow. And that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to let it take over. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to let my nerves turn me mean or frozen or anything else. It just means totally ignoring it or shoving my feelings aside is a way of lying to myself, of saying that I’ve got it all together and I’m a good little robot of a human and I don’t need God to keep me from turning into a quivering mess. None of those things are true. None of them are even worth striving for.

It’s just way harder to sit with the fact that I’m nervous than it is to shove it aside. It’s way harder to remember that I don’t have to do it alone and depend on God and other people. It’s difficult to listen to myself, because what about those moments when I say things that are ugly and uncomfortable and that I’ve been trying to avoid for weeks?

But there’s something so incredibly freeing, too, about being honest, about admitting what I’m feeling and sitting with it. It becomes so much less serious. It becomes something I can embrace rather than avoid and deny, and with embrace comes acceptance and that moment of letting go of judgment. “It’s okay that I feel this way.” It’s never okay to act that out in ways that are hurtful or sinful or dangerous–but it’s okay to feel.

Cleaning and Loving

Confession time:

I haven’t been cleaning very much. And by “very much” I mean it’s been more than a month since I’ve done anything that wasn’t laundry. (Necessary about laundry?)

Ugh.

It’s not just that. I’ve been at my place for almost a year now and still haven’t hung anything up, except for one post it reminding me that “The internet does not inspire you.” (Truth!) As much as not cleaning has partly been about being exhausted and overwhelmed, it’s also been about a lack of permanence. I know I won’t live here forever. I plan to move out when I find a church. I’ve been actively trying to not set down roots: I have more boxes than furniture, and most of my books and winter clothes are still packed (because last September, I optimistically thought I wouldn’t need them before I’d moved). I haven’t really bought anything for the room. I haven’t bought anything future-oriented since I moved in.

And I’ve been thinking about that, as I try to get over the hump that is “I haven’t cleaned and nothing has exploded!” so that I can reach the other side and start cleaning again. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not completely unpacking, or not buying things I’ll just have to move again–but intentionally distancing myself so I don’t form any attachments is not really the goal. I don’t like it. What’s wrong with loving the place where I am, even if I’ll be moving someday? Why do I feel the need to hurry through instead of getting to know my neighbors?

I’d like to love this place, even if I’m not here much longer. I’d like to clean, and leave it better for whoever comes after me. And I’d like to remember that organizing and cleaning and putting pretty things on the walls and shelves is good for me, too.

Which is why I’m going to the store in a bit to get a new shower curtain. Which is why I’ve been rearranging my room so that there’s more than one path (because it’s a start) and making piles to donate.

Which is why I found myself mopping the bathroom today, dripping with sweat because I made the bright decision to start cleaning when it was pouring rain and so the humidity was through the roof.

And…loving is mostly hard work, and messy, and made up of moments that aren’t particularly memorable.

But I think I’m ready to love a little more.

Some small things

It's been a while!

I really hate starting with that–and I hate having started with that so often in the history of this blog.

I just…haven't felt like I've had much to write about. Part of that was taking on a new job at the beginning of last month, which put me at just about full-time between all of my jobs. What a transition! It hasn't been bad, really. It's been tough, sure, and an adjustment, but I really love it. It's a good job. But between the new job and my other jobs, there have been lots of little good moments (and lots of irritating, frustrating ones, too!) but nothing big enough that I wanted to write a whole post about it.

But good grief it's been a long time since I wrote anything here.

And I think those little moments are worth celebrating and cherishing–and isn't that what I wanted to do here, in this space? find the good and beautiful and God in the routines and small moments of life? So let's take a moment–let's celebrate all the tiny things that being us joy. For me, that's been:

  • Walking to work. It's a tiny way to make space for myself, and I love it.
  • My new friend.
  • Going to the park. I live right by one, and I've finally rediscovered that is a great place to go to read or get some work done.
  • Beautiful sunsets. Enough said, right?
  • Work. Definitely not every day–but there's something beautiful about seeing a task be completed, and being the one working towards that. There's something wonderful about having a clearly defined goal.
  • Crocheting. I've been crocheting more lately and loving it! I find it such a soothing way to spend an hour or two.
  • Writing. Surprising no one but myself, developing a regular writing habit has been giving me so, so much joy. (Perhaps this is a post for another time, but why do we so vehemently avoid the parts of life that give us the most joy?)
  • Rain. We've had so much rain here I've the past month, and I love it. It's my favorite weather, full of such beauty and potential.

What about you? What small things have you been loving?

Some pictures

I haven’t been on here lately–I haven’t felt like I had much to say. Not in a bad way for once! I have had a lot going on, in a very introverted kind of way–that is, lots of sermon research, lots of walks and crafts, and lots of housesitting. 

So I thought I’d share some pictures, and in the meantime get to work on something to post later in the week.

I have gone to the park quite a lot lately

Summer sunsets are beautiful

Craft project: I took apart a set of old natural history books for the gorgeous illustrations


Little Fears

I write a lot on here about fear. I think a lot about fear. The more I get to know myself, the more I see threats fear influences all the little parts of my life: not reading because I’m afraid of not liking a new book, being afraid to start a sermon and so finding a million other things to do, staying home because I’m afraid of seeing that one person again…. The list is endless. 

And it feels kind of pathetic to admit. I can just imagine some sneering voice asking, “You really avoid every day things because you’re afraid of silly things like that? Coward!” 

To which I say:

  1. Several swear words. Irritating voice!
  2. So often I don’t even realize that my fear is influencing how I’m behaving. I just think I’m not in the mood. I think I’m just really tired. I think about how I’m no good at whatever-it-is. 
  3. Realizing that I’m reacting out of fear is a good step. I can’t very well face my fear if I can’t or won’t recognize it.
  4. Trust me, I feel silly too. I wish my fear didn’t come out in all sorts of strange ways. But without realizing what I’m really feeling, I can’t accept it and then gently lift it aside and start doing those things even though I’m afraid.

So, yeah. I’m afraid of some things that make even me laugh. I’m afraid a lot. But I’m working on it.