All I was doing was enjoying a DQ sundae…

It was a beautifully sunny day in my city, with a cool wind keeping everything wonderfully balanced. As I drove by Dairy Queen, I decided to go through the drive-thru and get a chocolate sundae. Instead of schlepping it home, I pulled into a nearby parking lot, rolled down my car window and enjoyed the treat right then and there.

I dipped my spoon into the creamy ice cream mountain.

Sitting quietly, enjoying my impulse buy, I watched people come and go from a nearby market. I noticed how some people were very methodical in the way they emptied their carts into the back of their cars. I began trying to guess who would simply toss their groceries inside their car, without a care – and who would have a meticulous system to their unloading routine.

…as I dipped my red DQ spoon into the chocolate-covered vanilla.

Maybe it was the loveliness of the day, or perhaps it was the lulling of the nearby robins’ song that took my mind deeper into thought. Similar to the Casablanca line, I found myself wondering, ‘Of all the parking lots in all the states, how did I find myself in Omaha on this day and at this time?’

Scooping ice cream as I thought.

I began looking back at the trajectory of my life. I thought about the many things to which I keep returning. The things that so solidly make up the core of who I am. I thought about the ways in which my thought-patterns and ideals and beliefs have melded and shifted and changed over time. It was an interesting birds eye view of stability mixed with organic fluidity.

All the while, I was slowly dipping my spoon into the ice cream and enjoying my sweet afternoon snack.

Because art and creativity have been such a constant in my life, I began to notice the patterns evolving in my ice cream cup.

20130602_120835

Whereas I was mindlessly eating my chocolate sundae before, I began to purposefully watch as I dug in and lifted out a spoonful of vanilla, the chocolate syrup, mixed with melted ice cream would slowly creep into the void like lava, and fill in the empty place I was leaving behind. The patterns were ever-changing and constantly moving as they found other places in which to trickle into.

It didn’t take long for my mind to make the connection. Throughout my life, as things and places and people were removed, others began trickling into their place. Work opportunities arose when others were removed. Friends rose up and filled the void of others that left, or from which I moved away. As difficult times crept in, joy would inevitably follow suit.

I sat there, in this market parking lot on a sunny-but-cool Midwestern day, filled with joy. My heart was brimming with the gratitude that this evolving, ever-changing, void-meets-lava life I have been living is God’s loving gift to me. I understood the platitude, ‘When one door opens…’ in a whole new light.

Be still and know… Sometimes moments of holy connectedness happen in a busy parking lot, surrounding an indulgent treat, in the quiet moments of simply being alone with yourself and with your thoughts. I’m glad I allowed my mind to wander aimlessly for just a few minutes.

God seized that simple moment to throw His arms around me and remind me that He knows me. He knows me well. He knows the voids I have feared and has always refilled them with things and people and opportunities that far surpass anything I could ever hope or dream.

I am standing in a moment of deep and abiding thanksgiving.

Advertisements

“STOP THE DAMN TAPE!”

One of my favorite stories recently came from my dear friend, Monica, an elementary school PE teacher. Monica is a veteran teacher and has taught the past number of years at a Title 1 school in a low-income neighborhood. Monica is admirably passionate about introducing her students to healthy habits that will hopefully last a lifetime.

As with any good teacher, she has classroom rules. Rules that need to be followed in order to ensure the safety of all of her students.

One such rule: Shoes must remain on at all times.

As her gym-full of students danced happily to a rocking CD one afternoon (all the while exercising their cute little bodies), one little boy kept taking his shoes off – bucking her hard-fast rule. Without interruption to the whole class, Monica simply stated, “Billy…you’re going to have to take your shoes and go sit down on the bleachers until you get them back on. You know the rules!”

…as the class cheerfully danced on.

This didn’t sit well with Billy who thoroughly enjoys dancing. Seeing Monica’s stern direction, he picked up his shoes and rushed to the bleachers to get them back on while his classmates kept right on with their dance routine.

Visibly upset, Billy hurriedly struggled to get his shoes on, all the while yelling from the sidelines, “Stop the damn tape! STOP THE DAMN TAPE!!!!!”

I know, I know… This is not becoming language from a first-grader who clearly learned his choice adjectives from someone older than himself. But what I loved was the authenticity of his phrase.

How often have I been spinning in deadlines and bill payments and health scares and family issues when all the while I wanted to simply yell at the top of my lungs, “STOP THE DAMN TAPE!!!”

As Black Friday looms and gift-buying pressures mount. As church obligations and work parties and sick kids pile up all around you. As the weather gets chilly and our propensity for being bit by the flu bug increases, I would encourage you to pause in the midst of the craziness and repeat after me: “STOP THE DAMN TAPE!”

Then, peacefully regain your composure and take the next step toward enjoying a time of year that is to be celebrated – danced through, if you will – and not pressed into a commercialized mold of ‘should-haves’ and ‘have-tos’.

2012 Holiday Season.
You can do it.
You can manage it.
You can successfully dance.

Turn off the tape, the tv, the pressures.
Get off the spinning-out-of-control merry-go-round ride.
Let your inner first-grader soar.

Stop the crazy.
Stop the busy-ness.
Stop the over-achieving.

Stop, the damn tape.

TRANSITIONS

I never published this post on this blog. It was meant for a separate blog of nonfiction essays. But I know of so many people going through the transition process at the moment that I thought perhaps by sharing my own thoughts about that challenging stage (Transition Land), that they might find some solidarity in the craziness. You are not alone. It is a frustrating/exhilarating place to be.

—–

The wind through the open window blew the long, transparent sheers in a rhythmic fashion. The mid-section of the sheers would rise like a wave, growing taller and taller, until finally the sheer would acquiesce, allowing the wind to quickly roll to the end of the fabric, blowing its edges outward right before settling down again against the window screen, waiting to catch the next rise. The next fresh wave of air.

“Adjust means that you have to change because things are different. When things are different, even though you do not like them, you have to adjust.” – Lottery, by Patricia Wood.

I am most certainly a person of change. My living room changes as much as my location and life goals; I have come to embrace this about my personality. And while I am pliable when it comes to change, I prefer to do it quickly and without pause. This is not to say that I am impulsive in the decision-making process. The layers unseen are the many hours spent praying about and weighing the pros and cons of any given situation. When I proclaim, “I want to move the living room furniture around” it is because I have spent a few days mentally rearranging the furniture in my mind beforehand, pondering what would work best where and why. Bigger life decisions require more time analyzing. So while I do not consider myself an impulsive decision-maker, I become impulsive once the decision is final.

I am not a good transitioner.  Once a choice has been made, I would prefer to activate full tilt forward. “Deploy! Deploy!” is my rallying cry.

One of the reasons I do not like long transitions is that people begin to emotionally step away. Once they realize you are a short-timer, they begin to put protective distances in your relationship. It is inevitable; I’ve seen it happen – and have participated in it myself – many times over the years.

My husband, Scott, and I are in the middle of a transition. Due to a job transfer, we are moving from Kansas City, Missouri to Omaha, Nebraska. And honestly, this transition has seemed interminably long. Our decision-making process began many months ago as Scott and I prayed about and weighed all the options – good, bad, pros, cons, indifferences. It will be a good move for us – and for our family. But there are things that are detaining our transition. Scott’s job does not start for another month. Our apartment is not yet ready.

So we wait in transition land. We are trying to maintain a daily life here in KC even while knowing it is a temporary one. Yoda resonates in my head, “Do or do not…” I feel as if I am doing both at the moment (doing and not doing) and it can be a mentally/emotionally frustrating conflict of opposing forces.

I recently looked up the definition of the word ‘interstices’. It was defined as: An intervening space. A small or narrow space or interval between things or parts.

Oh how I wrapped up that word. I find myself in between the here and now. At the interstices of homes. Finishing one and anticipating the other.

My mind returns to that peaceful afternoon, watching the wind through the sheers.

I love the rise of the sheers. I love riding the wave and soaring high above my normal place of existence. I don’t even mind the upset of fabric blowing in the wind – being tossed here and there.

But I do not enjoy the lack of wind. The lack of movement. Just the stillness of hanging straight – no wind. No rise. No upset. No activity.

Just waiting.

Waiting for the next wave. For the movement of air in the midst of the wind.

The window is open.
Please wind, find my awaiting soul.

I’m ready to rise again.