Tag Archives: change

Crawling Home

At the end of December, I found myself sketching sofas. I was sitting with friends, a crowded room, laughing and planning the year to come. We do this every year, gather together bringing this past year’s joy and hurts, victories and failures, scraping our plates for the last taste of what we have been given, savoring gratitude. Then, we speak into existence our hopes and goals for the dawn that will rise as the new year unfolds, our best intentions and ideals. Or at least that is what I like to imagine it as. As I looked at the blank page in front of me, I slowly started carving out the white for deep lines and folds of penciled fabric. They felt comforting as if I was creating something safe to hold me, a nest that I wasn’t ready yet to leave.

It’s the middle of March and that couch has absorbed a lot of tears. A salty mess of uncertainty, fear, hope, and sadness. In less than two months, I will graduate. I have already accepted a job that I never thought possible. As that looms, I have tried to imagine what will be next. I look back on those short months before when I wrote these things. The future, well it’s terrifying. Funny how something with so much wonderful potential also leaks of so much possible hurt. And, because I am afraid, I practice devastation. I rehearse it as if then I will have some power over the pain. 

I watched a TED talk the other day by Elizabeth Gilbert about this continuum we exist in. She supposed that perhaps both success and failure are the same in the way we experience their powerful sense of altering self. The potential or realization of either throws our balance off. The resilient continuously relocate their center. They crawl their way back to what they love.  Today, I sit again on this sofa, my bones weary from the constant back and forth of miles in my mind and emotions. There are still so many unanswered questions. Today, I crawl back to this sacred space surrounded by pages and prayers. I write my way back to this center. There is a red tulip on the counter that is begging to open. And, the sunlight is coming in, cautiously, through open blinds. My laundry is rolling around in the dryer, humming to the tune of consistency. It is the sound of coming home again.

Real Christmas Trees

It’s December 27th. All our presents are still sitting under the tree. It’s a real tree; we switched a few years back from the towering style that came in pieces in a box. You had to spread each branch out intentionally filling in the gaps of evergreen, trying to hide the metallic core. I was the one each year designated to fill in those spaces. I don’t know if it was because I was actually talented in the art of fake spruce or if I was the only one who became obsessed by their placement, putting meaning into each bend as if it was art or salvation. I prefer real trees.

The siblings have now almost all rolled in from various states, nephews and nieces in tow, and I’m left again overwhelmed by it all. For the last few weeks, I’ve been sitting in the waiting. Holding onto it as if it was the season I’d been wanting all year long. And, perhaps some of the truth is that it has been what I’ve wanted all year long. It has given me permission to mourn, to speak into the night – hope for something different. This waiting is the tension I notice sitting in my stomach most days. I need joy to show up.

But, the second truth is that sometimes I’m not sure I’m ready for the waiting to end. I feel I am afraid I will be like that child on Christmas day that after strewing wrapping and strings and paper all around ends up sitting in it all, saying, “but is that all?” And, for that reason, I delay. As the expectation grows, I grow more anxious. Perhaps, we should just forget the whole thing. I am afraid of my own disappointment. What if after all of this, I am holding nothing?

So the real truth then is that any ending terrifies me. And, so I gather, all these things, these people, these places, and hold on for dear life. We build ourselves mansions with these parts that were never meant to be walls and furnishings.

I am learning, instead, that waiting is a wondering. It is participation in this life with all it’s heartaches and small victories. It is noticing what is here and now and then watching it go, feeling the joy and the pain. It takes all of you.

If you asked me to describe what I believe will happen at the end of all of this, I would probably fumble over my words. I know that because there are days when I have tried to explain the belief that seems built into my bones despite the doubt of my skin that tries to shake it. I never feel like I have really said much of anything; maybe it was a metaphor or a tenant that doesn’t really explain what faith is. I say that mostly out of my own frustration because the truth is that I would like it to be built much sturdier. I wish it felt like a wide, wire cable. If anything it’s more like a perennial that grows, seemingly dies, but is dormant, ready to come again when it feels like winter will never end.

Traffic Lights

It started happening again. I started crying at stoplights. On off-ramps. When my car slows and you’re standing there with a sign about work or being a veteran or needing to get home. And, it takes everything in me not to get out of my car and do something. And, it takes everything in me not to shrink away, look everywhere but your eyes. And, sometimes I don’t. I focus on the light, changing. It always changes. The seconds are so slow.

I went through a period of time where I always had a granola bar tucked under the seat. I kept spare change cradled in the cup-holder, just to have something to give. I wanted to help. I went through a season after where I stood in self-righteousness that it would only feed the problem, not give any solutions. The system is the problem, I raged. When I was working in nonprofit sector, I felt like I could connect you to a resource. I felt like I had an option. We need relationship more than anything else and these days I am strung thin and wish I could give you more than this smile. 

Why does it always come back to what I can give? My entitlement squirms out even when I’m hoping to shake out the injustice in this world.

I’m a counseling grad student and trying to make it through the day hearing heart ache and lost dreams morning after morning. I’m not a saint. And, most days the only thing I have to hold onto is the hope that this great big God of ours is telling a long story. And, some days I do just want to sit at this red light, waiting for the change, and cry.

We all need to get home. I’m still wondering where mine is. As the leaves begin to break into reds and oranges, nostalgia  stirs this part of me that holds onto fall hikes, boots crunching on paths, flannel and laughter. I’ve begun to know the lines of this city, the ways the roads fall into each other, anticipate the traffic. It’s like this ongoing relationship where I both love and easily compare it to a past love, a one that has probably become a beautiful distortion of reality. Idealism has a way of doing that.

I get on twitter during my breaks. They’re talking about Ferguson again. In 140 characters, rage and injustice and hope. I hold my tongue and my heart. I write out sentences. Delete them. Write them out again. Sometimes I push “send.” I am easily consumed by the urge to blame, and I blame myself. I’m activated and once that happens it’s hard for me to make the next right decision, a decision that could actually do some good in my neighborhood. A decision that could call out the injustice and move towards peace. I want to invite others in rather than push them out. I’m still unsure what that looks like going forward. I’m still asking the questions. 

I’m putting those granola bars back in my car. Maybe I’ll buy an extra cup of coffee this morning. I may be small and unable to change the system today, but your dignity is worth more than that. It’s above any inadequacy I feel. You’re strong. I want to tell you that. Let’s both keep fighting. A red light’s not a lot for a conversation, and it’s enough for a smile.