looking through me

Tag: nature

bruising season

The sunrise was gorgeous. The clouds, the shadows, the lights, the vibrancy of the colors. A sight that takes my breath away and sends me searching for words, so I don’t lose the scene.

Today? Not so much.

I looked at it. I acknowledged its beauty. And I kept going. There was no pause, no fear of forgetting . . . no awe. As though it wasn’t enough.

For days my mind’s been spinning and getting nowhere, but being outside tends to settle it. So as the morning waned, I took a walk.

The clouds were still impressive. A Monarch butterfly floated by on the song of unseen birds. The breeze was lovely. It was the perfect fall mix of cool air and warm sun. I looked for, but didn’t see, the great blue heron that’s been hanging out by the creek this week. I crunched through dry sycamore leaves.

I saw it all. I heard it. I felt it.

But I didn’t.

Instead, a sensation rippled across my shoulders and pounded on the inside of my rib cage as though my skin couldn’t contain me.

My focus is fragmented. My breathing is shallow. Tears threaten.

Why? What is different about today? What knocked my soul off center and took the rest of me with it?

Nothing. And everything.

I’m just not okay. All the things—Dad’s cancer, friends’ struggles, disturbing headlines—assault me. They use my mind as a trampoline and my heart as a punching bag.

It’s little surprise that some days the most stunning sunrise can’t loose the vise holding my lungs. And sometimes the perfect walk can’t perfect the day.

So in this bruising season, I press into the tender places and let the twinges remind me that okay—and not okay—comes in many shades.

The internal hues of today are a little darker than the external ones. I feel out of place in my own skin, in my own life. But admitting the disconnect helps balance the colors. The saturation point of my soul shifts.

My “not okay” is okay enough for today.


Note: I don’t post in real time, so this was written on Friday, November 3. That was two days before my dad’s symptoms returned with a vengeance. After four nights in the hospital and five nights (and counting) in a skilled nursing facility doing rehab, the colors of “okay” and “not okay” are more blurred than ever. Many questions and unknowns remain in this season. And still, God is good today and every day.  

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


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.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.