looking through me

Tag: grace

slice of life

Five years ago, March 2012, I attended a writing workshop. I hadn’t written outside of grad school or work in ten years. I was excited . . . and nervous. Our assignment after the first session was to return the next week with a 350-word “slice of life.” I did, and I haven’t stopped writing since. To commemorate the gift writing has been to me these past five years, here is that first assignment that loosed the words inside of me:

With barely a glance at the clock I slip out of bed in the darkness. I pull on pants and a sweatshirt. Quickly I start brewing a pot of coffee, impatiently keeping one eye on the window. I carefully select my favorite mug and pre-pour the half-and-half. I don’t even bother to comb my hair. Grabbing my coffee in one hand and a blanket in the other I quietly slip out onto my balcony.

The sky is still middle-of-the-night dark. And it is quiet. No, it is silent. And still. Perfectly still.

I wrap the blanket around myself and slowly sip my coffee. The stillness encircles me with comforting fingers of peace. I feel the pent up tension and anxiety lessening as I study the dark eastern sky.

And then I see it: the first glimmer of grayish pink sneaking around Sunrise Mountain. For more than an hour I lean on my balcony railing and watch the sky proclaim the sun’s arrival. I can’t take my eyes off the masterpiece as the colors shift and intensify. The first birds of the morning joyfully pierce the silence.

The remnants of my coffee have long since grown cold, but for the first time in weeks—maybe months—I feel calm.

Nothing’s changed. The feelings of failure at work still lurk on the outskirts of every thought. The fear I’m more of a disservice than a service to my students is inescapable. The questions still outnumber the answers. Every circumstance is the same as it was while I futilely tried to sleep just hours ago.

Yet, everything has changed. The One who ushers in the morning in such easily-missed majesty is here. I breathe deeply. The sky is quite ordinary now, but my soul is settled. The God of the sunrise is the God of the everyday.

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unlikely word

For weeks an unexpected word has crept into my thoughts, my writing and my speech. I’ve used it as a noun: a comfortable support. And I’ve used it as a verb: to soften the effect of an impact on. The word itself is unexceptional, but its sudden repetition is significant.

I keep coming back to cushion.

I need extra padding between calendar items, between spaces and places and people. I need cushions in my day.

My drive times are soft, quiet dividers creating space to leave one place—both physically and mentally—and prepare for the next place.

After a meeting, I often sneak in a walk to give myself time to breathe and reset (and enjoy a few moments of solitude, if not silence) before diving into the next item of business.

I pad my evening and weekend activities so I’m not bouncing from event to event. I need space to process all the inputs, the conversations, the togetherness.

The activity of life often overstimulates me. While that overstimulation might appear to be utter stillness on the outside, it is frenetic motion on the inside. I need supports to lean on in my schedule and in my relationships. I need a few more minutes to reflect before and after interactions. I need moments of soul rest—meaningful pauses—to carry me through the day.

And now the calendar places me firmly in this season of busyness, of constant expectations, of traditions and new opportunities, of to-do lists and deadlines, of noise and grief and celebration.

It’s hard to add more cushion to a crowded schedule. But for months I’ve been tucking throw pillows in the nooks and crannies of my days, and now it’s time to revoke their decorative status and put them to use.

Even as my body moves from one task or location to another, I imagine my soul sinking into a plush pillow for a moment of quiet. As I wash dishes or lay out clothes for the next day, I breathe a little deeper and picture myself leaning into the supportive structure routines give me.

It’s an unlikely word for this season, but with that little bit of extra cushion around my heart, I’m finding deeper peace, joy and hope.



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