A few months back I pondered the importance of taking notice, of simply pausing to see the beauty of a moment. Looking up at the sky that day I took in the opportunity I was being given and the opportunity God gives me each and every day to bear witness to Wonder in my own life.
As is so often the case though, life came along and I was swept up. Administrative needs at work overtook my schedule of home visits. The drama of life decisions and looking towards next year overwhelmed my ability to be fully present to the Mission Corps experience here and now. Concern for a loved one's loss and jumbled thoughts about who I am and who my generation is in the Church eclipsed simple joy with confusion, anger, and unknowingness. And I was left with nothing.
There are some things you don't realize you miss until they're gone: contact with those you serve, the ability to hear their stories and give hope if but through an ear to listen, connection in prayer and a deepening of that relationship with God, and blue skies.
To have nothing and to regain those things can be a great relief and a great blessing. Depending on the moment you catch me at, I'll agree. At the moments I am without, though, I am burdened and misguided. Those are the toughest moments. They are the times you tell yourself it's bound to get better, stoking the fires of hope, if only with the desperate need to have such hope still aflame within you beneath grey skies and muddled thoughts.
My first reaction is to say those moments are ones to be pushed through (we've all tried that, haven't we?) but slowly I am realizing the need to look up at those dreary, murky clouds and see the shades of grey among them. Not necessarily to muscle your way through but to look at what you're facing. And maybe, just maybe, invite God into those moments.
Such invitations can seemingly go unanswered, like letters sent but never opened. Others can come back not necessarily in the prescribed manner of response. In lots of ways we invite God, just as God invites us. I can invite God in, but am I, in all honesty, ready for God to come rushing in? If I want to be vulnerable am I able to be "capable of and susceptible to being wounded or hurt", as that word's definition implies? All are good questions but they aren't the ones you ask in those moments. Distinguishing shades of grey and waking up each day to bleak January skies, you just want to see blue, to find God, to make some sort of connection.
This past week that was my hope. To move beyond nothing to, at the very least, nothing, but blue skies.
This morning I awoke to what seemed to be the first clear sky I'd seen in weeks. The crisp air complemented the clouds and the sheets of ice on the pavement kept me on my toes. I was aware as well of a dream I had last night. In the midst of all this confusion, I've been passing out at night, awaking somewhat rested (my brain not having reached a resting state from the previous day.) Yet this morning, one tidbit still remained in my mind.
For some reason I was being evaluated (why? who really knows with dreams?) on my quality of life. The woman sitting with me would ask a question and then based on my response and manner of response she would tell me how I was doing (certainly not protocol for study -I assure you!)
I don't know if I passed the evaluation or not... I could care less, but the only question I remembered when I woke up this morning was "Do you pause and reflect on 5 moments of beauty each day?" In the dream I hesitated, then reassured myself that I must do so, and then answered accordingly. The woman marked her paper and said bluntly, "You either do or you don't, making up answers doesn't help either one of us." Ouch. Subconscious anyone? Needless to say I had a lot to chew on as my day went forth.
Tomorrow may hold murk and grey; I can't control that. I just need to be (and have been) reassured that what feels and reeks of nothing may bring me to something, if only blue skies. Nothing but blue skies.