Tomorrow, I will hopefully be waking up in my new home, living a new dream of five acres and trees and a pond and the promise of chickens and goats in the spring. Today, though, I am sitting in a house littered with boxes and stuff I don’t know what to do with and stuff and I am just plain sick of throwing into boxes (yesterday I actually scrawled “RANDOM STUFF” on a box—it’s that bad). We were supposed to close on our house at noon today, but there was a holdup, and then we arrived at 4:00 for the new closing time, only to be sent away because of an error on the part of the lending company. So now I am back at home, sitting on a mattress on the floor, surrounded by stuff, consumed by chaos, drowning in undue anxiety.
I had this really appealing idea last week of how nice it would be to take “break” from packing to write an essay. I imagined sweetly telling Matt that I needed to sequester myself to the attic for some time alone to write and then languorously composing something eloquent, lovely and maybe even a little funny.
The truth is, I am currently cranky, so nothing eloquent, or lovely, or remotely funny is going to magically appear on my laptop screen. I miss order. I miss routine. I am sick of the fact that my son’s school is 45 minutes away, and incredibly frustrated that tomorrow, between taking him to school, coming back home, driving to the closing, driving home, picking him up, and bringing him home, I will probably be on the road nearly six(!!!) hours.
That said, I am double-dealing on this blog post. I am copying and pasting a blog post of mine from January. I could probably cheat and not tell you about the stolen blog post, but since I write in the essay about sitting in front of my fireplace, and since it’s dead summer here in the Midwest, I am pretty sure you would soon figure out something was amiss.
So, just for a few moments, pretend with me that it’s 46 degrees instead of 96.
Pretend that I wrote this essay tucked cozily in front of my fireplace rather than sprawled out on a mattress on my son’s floor.
Pretend that my current practice of spiritual disciplines actually has space to focus on something like meditation, rather than focusing on, say, my current baseline spiritual discipline of survival.
I don’t have to pretend, though, that I don’t need the verse I meditated on that week:
“God, make a fresh start in me; shape a Genesis week [day, moment] out of the chaos of my life” (Psalms 51:10, The Message).
I need that verse more than ever. Perhaps you need it today, too.
I am reading through Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, and this week I focused on Chapter 2: “The Discipline of Meditation.” I honestly can’t say that I was looking forward to this chapter. I enjoy meditation about as much as I enjoy it when Jack convinces me to play a video game with him, which is to say, I don’t like it at all.
I am horrible at meditation. The truth is, my head doesn’t empty. It just doesn’t. My head is constantly spinning. I am lucky when I can forge a path through the dizziness, so last Sunday I opened my book with a sigh. I was drawn in, however, by the first paragraph:
“In contemporary society, our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied. Psychiatrist Carl Jung once remarked, ‘Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil’” (15).
Noise. Hurry. Crowds. Muchness. Manyness.
Noise: My children arguing, with each other, with me.
Hurry: “We can’t be late for school! Get your shoes on, Jack! Hurry!!”
Crowds: (I try to avoid these as much as possible.)
Muchness: You should look at my to-do list.
Manyness: My calendar is full–too full–of commitments, games, practices, appointments, and on and on and on.
Noise. Hurry. Crowds. Muchness. Manyness.
Sometimes, I feel like I am drowning.
This week, I still floundered about, gasping for breath, at least 85 percent of the time. But there was about 15 percent of the time that I was gliding upon the sea of my day rather than thrashing about in it.
I can thank meditation for that 15 percent.
I was surprised. Maybe I shouldn’t have been.
Here is what I discovered:
I discovered that I didn’t have to empty my mind to meditate. Instead, I had to focus on something. I just needed to gather up all that mess in my brain and wrap something–just one thing–around it to think on for a bit.
Early Monday morning, as I sat in front of my fireplace with a cup of hot coffee, my Bible, and my journal, I chose to focus on Psalm 51:10, using The Message:
“God, make a fresh start in me; shape a Genesis week [day, moment] out of the chaos of my life.”
I had to insert the words day and moment, because quite frankly, the idea of a new beginning, a Genesis, for a whole week is way more than I can take on right now. I need a fresh start approximately every five minutes.
So this week, when Jack had collapsed on the floor in agony, again, at the mere mention of homework or a bath or dinner, I mumbled to myself, “God, make a fresh start in me; shape a Genesis moment out of the chaos of my life.”
When Amélie was using her best big sister/teacher voice to teach Jack a lesson regarding his cranky
behavior, which of course resulted in even crankier behavior and sometimes bodily injuries, I shut myself in the bathroom and whispered, “God, make a fresh start in me; shape a Genesis moment out of the chaos of my life.”
And in the middle of an argument between my exhausted, overwhelmed husband and his exhausted, overwhelmed wife, I forced myself angry heart to plead, “God, make a fresh start in me; shape a Genesis moment out of the chaos of my life.”
This week looks like the week before and the week before that.
My kids are going to argue.
Matt is going to work more hours than we want him to work.
Sometimes I am going to snap and cave and crumple into a mess on my sticky kitchen floor.
But perhaps this week, yet again, I will also find myself dropping to my knees and begging,
“God, make a fresh start in me; shape a Genesis moment out of the chaos of my life.”
– Jill Clingan is holding on