I’ve dumped all my junk on the spiritual desk. I vowed to keep this desk clean and spacious, set aside and sacred, so that I can escape there to clear my head and find silence. Today, I’ve emptied my overnight bag onto it, mascara tubes rolling to the edges, leaking half-screwed contacts cases scattering.
I’m coming back from a week of dogsitting and have a thousand things to unpack, and my brain feels as cluttered as my room. My mind is chattering, full of bouncy chaotic joy that just might turn to high-pitched anxiety if we give it another half an hour.
I haven’t sat down, and been very quiet, with myself and God, over Christmas. It wasn’t because things were bad. I was rushing, but the good holiday rushing of cooking and shopping and driving hither and thither between dinners and movies and Christmas Eve services and caroling nights – the good rushing of being surrounded by good people, and good religious services, and good food, for days and days. I haven’t been “distant” from God, either. In the holiday rushing, through, long talks have shrunk into whispered prayers of gratitude in the car, as I turn the key and listen to the engine take a minute in the icy cold to start, hachuka hachuka shmmmmm shmmmmm shmmmmm.
An object in motion tends to stay in motion until an outside force alters its state.
But now it is that time between Christmas and New Years. Everything is still moving fast, but my body is starting to get tired. I’m unpacking in my freezing room, damp Georgia cold in an old old house. I’m tossing things on my desk that I am usually so rigid about keeping clean.
I’m starting to notice how it’s been a long time since I was quiet and listened to God.
I’m starting to feel that hovering Spirit that is supposedly an “invitation” but can feel like a weight or a burden. It is the kind of invitation that you dread, because you don’t know what kind of event you’re being asked to, or how late it will go, or if it’s more of a work day or an actual party.
What business has brought you here?”
“A night’s unbroken rest might aid my welfare!”
“Your salvation, then.”
I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol while I was making cookies on Christmas. The Ghost of Christmas Past clarifies with Ebenezer that really she is not here for his “welfare” in the sense that we understand welfare – in the comfortable sense where we sleep through the night. She is here for his salvation, a messy and uncomfortable process. Every time I feel the Holy Spirit brooding over me, I’m as skeptical and uncomfortable as Ebenezer. Perhaps this will be good for my soul, but not in a full-night’s-sleep-kind-of-way.
We are not doubting that God will do what is best for us. We are simply wondering how painful the best will turn out to be – C.S. Lewis
So I’ve dumped everything petulantly on the desk, like a kid sticking one finger definitely on the vase that he was been told not to touch. I am too busy to talk, Spirit, and to demonstrate that I’m too busy for you, let me dump all my shit on this table that I have claimed is set apart and holy. I’m too busy to be set apart right now.
I am not sure why the process of coming to God so often feels like being dragged to God. I keep hoping that as I grow, mature, because a wiser and more careful woman, swim deeper into the depths of spiritual awareness and the knowledge of the holy, that I will wake up gracefully with a full face of makeup on, spiritually speaking, with all my hairs in place and my brow game on point and my soul quiet and ready to meet her Maker. Instead, here I am again, splashing outside in puddles without my rain boots on while the Spirit tries to grab me by my ankles and drag me into the house.
It’s a perhaps more aggressive metaphor than many of you prefer. But I’m ducking and dodging and weaving out here, and it does feel like the Spirit is an exasperated young mother, umbrella in one hand while the other is trying to snatch my slippery wet limbs to get me in the house young lady!
The promise of entering His rest still stands. – Hebrews
When you’re in motion, “peace” seems like a scary thing. When everything is loud, the promise of silence feels more like a threat. Slowing down means being present with ourselves, and in all the hustling we have come to be a little wary of who we are underneath our performance of busyness.
“Come, enter My rest,” the Spirit whispers. But God will be there in the restful place, and sometimes we aren’t sure what God is going to make us give up in exchange for peace. At the very least, God will make us give up our motion, our movement, our whirring mind.
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. – Psalm 131:2
I don’t know how many days I spend ducking and dodging the Spirit, only to discover when I finally let myself be caught, that She has only been trying to catch me to give me good gifts.
The Spirit has been trying to catch me because I am burning myself out, wearing myself down, and my soul desperately needs rest.
She has been trying to get me out of the rain because I’m damp and catching a cough, and She wants to bring me inside and tend to me.
While I’m dumping things on my desk, childishly rebellious, the burden of Her presence is getting heavier and heavier, not because She’s just dying to get me in trouble, but because She’s dying to get me out of trouble, my own trouble of the built-up noise and anxiety and restlessness and movement that can only be healed by silence, and stillness, and Her peace.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
come unto me and rest
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down,
Thy head upon my breast
I came to Jesus as I was,
weary, worn and sad
I found in him a resting place
and He has made me glad.”
A messy desk with The Return of the Prodigal Son peeking out from behind my deodorant and makeup bag and box of tampons.
Not today, Spirit. I’m busy today.
Or perhaps I will keep ducking and dodging in the rain, but maybe more half-hearted, maybe letting the small, lonely part of me slow me down just a bit, keeping my pride intact as I keep running from the impatient but never ceasing Spirit, and when She catches my elbow at last, I’ll grumble and twist, but not very hard and not with my whole heart. And maybe I’ll let myself be brought in to the woodstove where I’ll dry off and sip on something hot, and complain that She wouldn’t let me stay outside, but start to feel my bones warm up and my clothes dry, while She runs a towel through my hair and listens to me complain, and pours me another cup of hot chocolate.
Maybe just today.