Oh, Reader, what a long week it has been. I feel terrible that I haven’t been very present in the last couple of entries with you—this semester is taking me to task in many ways I hadn’t at all anticipated. Also, taking a language class on top of a full-time job is a ballsy and unwise thing to do; I’ve been spending my lunch hours in a beginning ancient Greek class, and as much as I love getting into this new language, it takes a lot of mental power I don’t much have. (And I hadn’t missed having homework at all. It’s a wretched, albeit necessary, invention.)
But this week has been so much: an old friend asked me to officiate her marriage in a few years, prompting a panic attack from me that this career of ministry is real now, is happening with or without all of the training I surely need so that I have all of the right answers first. I had a day-long doctor’s appointment to deal with the continuing issues of my ear, and learned that I’ll likely have to repeat one of the most unpleasant surgeries around. Several conversations among friends and other associates have opened pathways and possibilities I never wanted to explore, out of common sense and no small amount of fear. I landed myself smack in the middle of some long-brewing family drama. I got some disheartening news about a sibling.
In short, it was a week chock-full of life.
This human relationships thing is rough, Reader, have you noticed? I’ve long wanted to fancy myself a Vulcan, driven by logic instead of the pesky emotional curves of humans, but it seems no one else is willing to believe that with me. So at the end of an emotionally draining week with a potentially stressful (scratch that: totally stressful, but only because I’m bringing too much to it) dinner ahead of me, I sit at my computer designing scholastic journal covers while listening to Celtic reggae (no really, it’s a thing) to pretend I have any center left to which I can retreat.
And the funny thing is, I do. I was driving back from the doctor’s yesterday just finished with…well, with everything. I have the feeling you know those moments, when you just have no feelings left to feel because it has been too much, overload, such that you feel sort of empty in a really drifting kind of way. Or perhaps it’s just me, I don’t know. Into that space of emptiness came the acknowledgment that there is another day than this.
It wasn’t the Scarlett O’Hara fist-to-the-sky declaration that tomorrow is another day; it was subtly different than that. Yesterday sucked, and the day before it kind of sucked, too, so to cover those with this idea that it will get better tomorrow because everything will be new felt false to me. That kind of optimism that says each morning means everything has changed never feels real in my experience because the things that made last night suck didn’t magically disappear. But to have this moment, this God-whisper ever-so-softly reminding me that that does not last forever, was an incredibly intense thing in the contained world of my car. It was a wordless reminder that no matter what today is, God is there with me. No matter what tomorrow is, or yesterday was, or what next week ought to be, God is there with me. He was there when I took a three mile walk on Sunday just to glory in the way the sunshine danced on the leaves that are still green for a little while longer. He was there when I was shivering outside my friend’s house on Wednesday from the autumnal chill and the discomfort of what I had to say.
And He will be there in this dinner.
I’m heading off to a ren faire tomorrow to see some old friends, and that’s been a bright spot on my horizon for sure. One of these friends in particular is very dear to me, and this is really the only time of the year I get to see him since he lives in a different state. And God will be in that meeting, too, and the joy of rediscovered relationship and making each other laugh and the power of a hug.
The very big little thing of the week is what I have tattooed on my stomach, because I apparently never actually learn what I’ve already learned: quoniam tu mecum es, for you are with me. The ups and the downs and the overs and unders of trying to make sense of a life that just won’t slow down long enough for me to get off and breathe are dappled with the moments where God patiently waits with a brown paper bag to say “in…and out…and in…and out…” as my ribcage expands for the first time in hours, in days. I breathe even as this life doesn’t slow down because slowing down isn’t what it does or what I do. I have created this schedule (mostly), and I continue to participate in these relationships, and each morning I get out of bed and open the curtains. I engage because I know that I do not engage alone, and that is a huge thing this week. It may seem very obvious to you, Reader—in fact, I hope it seems painfully obvious to you. I hope you breathe deeply at least once a day and wonder why on earth it would have taken me so long to remember to do so this fall. But, just in case you’re a little overwhelmed like me, take a deep breath.
Feel the bottoms of your lungs pull on your solar plexus as your body replenishes, as your soul replenishes, as the day stops for just that one moment. It’s a big thing, for so little a thing.
[God] answered, “Set your mind at rest — my presence will go with you, after all.” Moshe replied, “If your presence doesn’t go with us, don’t make us go on from here.” (Exodus 33:14-15, CJB)