It’s been a -strange, confusing, exhausting, brilliant, joyful, packed, hot, stressful, unexpected – few weeks. I planned to write about the graduation of the childrens, and I likely still will, but not today. I think I’m still unpacking all the emotions from feeling like I crossed some sort of parenting finish line both much sooner than I expected and also two geological epochs from when we began. But that’s parenting, right?
Then there’s work, which I love, even when it’s 90* inside the building (those days I can only love it from my home after a cold shower). But I’m going to be transparent for a moment and say I’ve been in a new position for about three months now and most days I feel just like the tasmanian devil, whirling in and out of an area, growling and spouting some sort of gibberish before racing on to the next thing. Oh, and the library still has no confirmed funding for 2019-2020. And the fiscal year closes in just over three weeks. So that’s fun.
I spend a lot of time just on the healthy side of the overwhelmed threshhold, hanging on with the tips of my fingers and grateful for a cast of friends and family holding tight to my ankles keeping me on the right side of the line. And it’s fine. It’s fine to have times where Tuesday afternoon feels like you’ve gone two weeks without a day to stop and process everything that’s happening. It’s normal, but it’s also easy to feel a bit lost while it’s happening.
So it makes sense that now, in the armpit of summer, is when I decide to start running again. Well, let’s be honest, it’s been awhile so I’m mostly walking with intermittent bursts of effort. Whatever. It’s my body and I’m calling it running. The thing is, if I have to work too hard or go too far to get to a good running area in the morning, I won’t do it. If I can’t slide out of bed and be moving 4.2 minutes later, I’ll just roll right on into the shower. But right across the street from our house is a church – a church I’ll likely never attend because the theology fits too tightly for me to ever be comfortable – with a decently paved, well-lit running path around the property. I may not attend for worship, but I’ll circle the perimeter and gain what healing I can for the effort.
Which brings me to another rather unexpected occurance this summer, I’m undergoing some sort of spiritual awakening. Since the divorce I haven’t wanted much to do with anything spiritual. I think about it from time to time, but to explore it or engage in any overt religiosity? Nope. No thank you. Not for me. Because I believe in a benvolent universe, this isn’t something that has troubled me greatly. I’ve been beaten unto to death by moral shoulds and religious agendas only to realize that Love doesn’t require me to be anywhere but where I am, and we’ll work through it from there. So it’s been surprising that recently, I’m very interested in the study of religions as a social construct. How do people who aren’t like me (white, straight and of american evangelical background) experience the Divine? In essence, if God is the center, I’m starting to circle the perimeter, slowly and with gasping bursts of effort, gaining whatever healing I can find along the edges.
What I love about running is that every step is a victory. Every run, no matter how slow, is one more time I made an effort to be someone stronger than who I was the step before. The runs change me – emotionally, physically, mentally. I won’t go into the science of exercise here but the proof is overwhelming that our brains and our hearts and our mental health are deeply affected by simply moving.
I’m learning that the same is true of my understanding of spirituality. It’s fine to find a comfortable spot and camp there forever. Many people will stay the same spiritually their entire lives; the traditions won’t change much, nor will the message. The view may be lovely, but it never varies. Christianity is easily stuck in this space thanks to their exclusivity theology: this is the right view and any other view is wrong and must be assimilated into the collective. But if you have the courage to move, even a little bit, there’s so much more to see and experience. Our heart and souls will change, inevitably and often irrevocably.
I’ve been stuck in one place too. Not with the camp I sat with for so long, but directly across from them, judging, accusing and angry. Even while I criticized their view, I ceased taking stock of my own. Now, after the experience I had, I think I a little sitting still was necessary. I needed to learn to be myself and be with myself without being so self-critical all the time. I needed to stop and see myself as loving and lovable again, skills I forgot for too long. I didn’t do any of this intentionally, mind you. It’s only in retrospect that I understand what was happening.
I wish I could say I woke up one day and said, “it’s time to be unstuck,” and moved forward from there. But that isn’t what happened at all. I honestly don’t know what happened, but suddenly and without asking for any permission from my rational and emotional selves, my spiritual self is awake again – asking and exploring. We’re moving again. Slowly, and with a lot more gasping and stopping to rest than I’m used to. It’s a slow process, but I’ve actually been enjoying reading some “god stuff” without feeling like throwing things both heavenward, at people. I have a list.
The other day when I was at work, I got interrupted in the process of a task, and then promptly forgot I was doing that thing, and moved on to something else. Two hours later, when the unfinished task was brought to my attention, I said, “It was in process, but I got distracted. I’ll finish it now.” We laughed at the time at how apropos that sentence feels about everything that’s happened over the last few months. That sentence encompasses so much more than just a simple work task.
I was a runner, but I got distracted. I was a spiritual explorer, but I got distracted. I was becoming someone I loved, but I got distracted.
I think I’ll pick up where I left off, and keep moving forward, now.