I started the year off in a full sprint. January and February were unusually full and overflowing with travel, special events, and project deadlines. The hyper pace of this type of perpetual, uninterrupted hustle and bustle does not come naturally to me, nor do I long for it. I prefer a rhythm of balanced activity and pause, so I’m still wondering how I managed to over-schedule myself.
But somehow, in the midst of two months, inundated with planning, writing, traveling, teaching, and parenting, there were a few free, quiet seconds. And in the expanse of those few seconds, I discerned that after February, I would get to pause — catch my breath. I saw a vision of me diving deep underground, beneath the earth’s soil. I know that technically diving into solid soil is impossible, but visions and unctions aren’t limited by our finite expressions of how things work in the natural realm. This vision gave me a sense of relief — a sense of calm. I longed for the placidity and welcomed the space to breath. I surveyed my calendar, saw that post-February was wide open, and therefore, I would be gliding back into my rhythm of balanced activity and pause —YES!
NO! A few weeks into quarantine life, I felt like I had been buried deep beneath the earth’s sod, but the sense of tranquility that I previously longed for had evaded me. The pause I looked forward to was not really a break if the whole world was broken. My rhythm of balanced activity and pause was nowhere to be found. At that point, I couldn’t even remember what my old rhythm felt like. I grieved the loss of normal. And when I heard people talking about getting back to normal, I thought to myself, “Normal is dead! Normal is no longer with us! Normal is not coming back!” And honestly, I didn’t have the strength to force the present extraordinary situation into normal’s old trappings.
Every waking moment required my best intention and fullest attention. Each day seemed to offer old inquiries in the form of new trivial pursuits — from the menial (Where do I buy toilet paper?) to the massive (How do I attend the funeral of a loved one?). The search for answers was grueling. The answer to both was I don’t. This daily adapting was exhausting, but adapting daily was necessary in order to thrive. All of the rethinking and relearning from what was normal was taxing! Being confined was suffocating. The loss of predictability was heavy. Contemplating what is to come was weighty.
But I remembered the vision of being underground and thought of the seed. The seed is buried deep underground, encompassed by the soil, pressed under the weight of the very element designed to grow it. The soil is endowed with the intelligence to summon the seed to leave its state of dormancy and become a plant, a tree, a forest. Before it can unfurl itself into the light of day above the earth’s surface, the seed must first be cultivated by the soil.
During this time of abnormal and discomfort, I liken myself to a seed being cultivated. Although heavy, I trust the weightiness of this time to command growth, to prepare me for my next stage of living, to propel me beyond my present state.
I can grieve the loss of what was, but I know losses make room for gains because Christ’s love leaves no deficits — no empty spaces. Though I am still in the depths of this, and though like a seed, I am still buried out of sight, the new has already begun.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
I have already begun to see new life cultivating in my home and family. While we’ve had to abandon work, school, and activities outside the home, daily we get to eat dinner together, play together, and spend hours loving on each other. Due to my husband’s work schedule, eating dinner together daily hasn’t been an option for us for several years. And while I lost my work-from-home-alone time, my girls get to see what it looks like for me to create through writing, teaching online, and leading an organization.
Spending concentrated time with my family is like looking in a mirror all day long. I’ve seen parts of myself — good and ugly — that went unnoticed in my former rhythm of life. But during this forced extended pause, I’ve been able to work on the ugly parts and celebrate the good parts.
During this time of buried beneath the weight of all of this, I am a seedling holding on to the hope of new things. May we all be fully cultivated and prepared for the next stage of purpose even as we’re underground right now.
I can grieve the loss of what was, but I know losses make room for gains because Christ’s love leaves no deficits -- no empty spaces. -Lucretia Berry (@brownicity): Click To Tweet