The peonies bloomed last week, the sharpest white you can imagine with surprising color inside, like someone couldn’t resist trying out the bright pink marker on that easy white canvas.
I was out of town when they came full out, teasing with their friendliness. They act all happy-like now, but they’ll only be around for a week or so. We’ll enjoy them while they last.
For the last few months, I’ve shared a little about the fog I’ve walked through. I wrote about it here (for when the fog rolls in), here (for the soul pulled in all directions) and also here (for the wannabe hopeful).
Fog is the only way I’ve come up with describing it, even though I accept these seasons are part of normal life. It’s part of growing up, too. I’m learning more about what it means to have faith without depending on certain kinds of feelings to go along with it. Sometimes faith feels like nothing.
This soul of mine has been churning the transition we’re in, turning slowly, shaking out distraction, seeing what’s leftover now that the dust has settled. Some of the identities and certainties I have held onto for years have fallen gently away.
While some seasons of change are more pronounced than others, aren’t we always moving from one thing to another, begining and ending and middling? Life is made of transition and the soul is always processing something. I do well when I remember to leave a little breathing room for the motion.
May brings along all kinds of transitions in her colorful basket – graduations, anniversaries, weddings, recitals, tournaments, performances, and ceremonies. But all anniversaries aren’t celebrations and May brings those along, too.
The simple act of sitting is becoming a kind of metaphor for me, a way to practice faith when things feel hectic, foggy, or when truth doesn’t feel true. Nothing fancy or hokey, but intentionally sitting down with the reality of the moment, refusing to talk myself out of it can bring quiet discovery of what I long for, what I fear, where my hope burns bright.
Before we move too quickly to hope, it’s important to grieve the losses, to handle them, face them, and let disappointment do its deep work.
We like to talk about celebrating the gifts, but facing the losses might be important, too. Not to wallow, but to keep company with them long enough to recognize what part they play in our story, to name them, and eventually release them in the presence of Christ.
Sit and consider what you no longer have to hold or what you’ll soon need to let go.
For example, you’re not technically a pastor’s wife anymore. How does that feel?
They don’t seem to understand. How might you be misunderstanding them, too?
He’s graduating. Where does that leave you?
She’s growing up. What are you afraid of?
He left and you don’t think he’s coming back. Is it time to let go?
Have a seat and consider the disappointments as well as the celebrations, the fears as well as the joy. Here are a few places I’ve been sitting lately.
I sat on this bench with a book and a journal, but I did more staring than reading. I watched the moms and babies stroll by, the workers with their good intentions toward the public bathrooms, the guy on his bike who rode without a helmet. I read a little about David, how he was both a man after God’s heart and a killer. I thought about how none of us are just one thing, but many shades of light and dark and shadows of gray, proof that we need Jesus.
Alone does good work.
I sat in the front seat of a rented Ford Focus that I paid one million dollars to borrow for the day and panicked when I first got in because the seat was too low and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust it. How do they expect me to drive if I can’t see over the dashboard!? But then relief when I found the right button and the seat raised up and all was well.
Sometimes you sit in unfamiliar places and it takes some adjusting to get your bearings. You drive alone on unknown highways and cry as you listen to Roz Chast talk about her aging parents on the radio.
Sitting in the driver’s seat of a strange rental car, listening to other people’s stories does good work.
I sat here in these airport seats, waiting to board the winged, sideways skyscraper, remembering that I can’t hold it up with mind games or willpower. So instead I ate an apple and read an article about Sandra Oh leaving Grey’s Anatomy while waiting to board the bus in the air and shoot out into the wild blue sky.
Sitting on the edge of my comfort zone does good work. Especially when the seat is at 30,000 feet.
I sat for several meals across from Shannan Martin, one of my favorite writers, a gift from the internet. We traipsed and meandered through town and conversation, sitting on cement benches and vinyl restaraunt chairs, spralled on the end of white duvet covered beds.
Sitting with a friend to hear and to be heard does good work.I sat in this ergonomic chair you can’t see (trust me, it was super ergonomically correct), stared out the window and had to accept that even though I came here to get work done, I didn’t want to be a relentless dictator over my soul if my productivity didn’t meet my expectations. Even while I’m doing the work of counting words and crafting sentences, Jesus just wants to be with me and this is the kind of work that means something even though I can’t measure it.
Sitting with my weakness, my obsessions, and my profound ability to twist art into achievement – this does good work, too.
I squeezed myself onto this swing in my neighborhood during a morning walk, thought of the ways our life used to look compared to how it looks now. While some of the changes are encouraging, others are not so easy to categorize. I recognize my desire to evaluate everything even as I appreciate the mystery of being unable to. I thought of the future and the past and where my hope comes from.
The rhythm of sitting on swings does good work, a reminder that we are tethered even as we sway.
I sat with her at the kitchen table, quiet while she spells her words, frustrated over my frustration, ready for the year to end. I answered the questions I could, aware of how soon the day will come when their homework is beyond my ability to advise. She’s moving on and I can’t always go with her. But while she’s here, I’ll sit beside her.
Sitting with family does good work.
When we sit we may find answers but most likely we’ll finally hear the questions. We may uncover things we’d rather avoid, things like fear, anger, weakness, or entitlement. But we might also find courage, peace, and hope there, too. When we sit, we let what is be, we remember to release outcomes or perhaps finally admit how tightly we are clinging to them. When we sit, we let ourselves be human.
Where will you sit today?