Day 10: RESTLESS
When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
There is unexpired milk in my refrigerator, right this minute. There is clean laundry in the closet and freshly changed sheets are on the bed. My freezer is full of leftovers, and just-baked bread is cooling on the kitchen counter.
It is December 6 and my Christmas shopping is basically finished, I have a real tree, lugged home on foot from the local non-profit Christmas pop-up, and my single lady photo cards are sitting on my desk, waiting to be addressed and sent out.
I have written every day for ten days straight. I woke up in the same place, took the dog for a walk, made the coffee, sat down and prayed, and I wrote. For ten days in a row.
I am hosting a Christmas get-together next week. I am thisclose to reaching my stretch reading goal for the year. I know some of my neighbors, I have weekly commitments, and I am involved in the community.
Every single one of those things – every one – has been pretty out of reach for the last decade or so. I spent a third to a half of my life on the road, making unexpired milk and community involvement really hard to keep up with, not to mention a reliable daily routine.
I am restless – I think it is part of who I am, always curious about the next place or the next idea. My parents tell me that I was restless like this even in elementary school, longing for something else, something bigger, something more challenging.
“Our hearts are restless ’til they rest in you.” That’s an oft-quoted line from Augustine’s confessions, and I suspect that his larger idea about the ways that we channel our passions into false desires – trying to quench our longing souls with unsatisfactory things meant only to quench smaller appetites – is related to the restlessness.
Augustine also said that people “…go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean and the circuits of the stars, yet they pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
What if the restlessness is just one more distraction from the hard work of reflective discipleship?
What if the restlessness that drives me to jump on a plane or in a car whenever I feel bored,
the restlessness that compels me to pick up my phone and check Facebook and Twitter during any lapse of stimuli longer than three seconds,
the restlessness that approves of my mental checking out during a conversation with some long-winded friend or congregant,
the restlessness that assures me that there is always something better than this moment, this reality, this embodied experience right here and right now…
What if this restlessness is and has always been my addiction of choice?
What if this restlessness is pure avoidance of myself, reality, clear-eyed observation of the way things are and the way I am?
I do appreciate the fresh baked bread, the scent of pine branches, the not-sour milk. I appreciate the stability and the routine that being in one place is affording. I appreciate it all, and I am also cringing at the reflection it is engendering. I am in one place, there is nowhere else to be, nothing else to do. I have to be here, now.
I am breathing, slowly and deeply, catching up with myself after all those years of trying to outrun her.