(De)light and dark
Walking through my life right now is surreal, with time stretching at 3am when I’m the only one awake, and compressing when I’m chatting with friends like nothing’s changed in the last four years.
Every year for the last few, I’ve chosen a word to be my theme and guide. 2016 is the year of delight. Delight is about finding joy in the ordinary; stretching the monotonous to glimpse something profound; taking the mundane and sanctifying our efforts, ourselves, and the parts of the world we touch; glorying in simple pleasures; and coming from a pose of stillness rather than restless energy.
Delight is about accepting God’s grace, and extending it as much as possible to the world around me. And I knew it would be hard, with this year of endings and beginnings.
About a week before my scheduled departure from Seattle, I experienced what I later realised was my first ever panic attack. That week, and then my first two back in Melbourne were full of stress, and at times (especially in the dark of night, alone with the frailty of my body and uncertainty confronting me) I felt those stress and panic hormones wash over me again. I tried breathing slowly and methodically, but with my mouth and throat dry thanks to my lowered immune system, it did more to exacerbate the problem than fix it.
This is surely not delightful.
And I tried to close my mind to my fears, and fully notice only the flavour of my toasted nougat herbal tea, or the hot water of the shower running down my skin, or the scent of my favourite perfume, but those things only reminded me of how much there is to lose, if this precarious balance is tipped too far, or too suddenly.
And so, rather than run from my fears, I will lean into them.
My fears are telling me that I need stability in this next period my life. I need to find strong support networks, and work hard to maintain the relationships I’ve built over the last few years. I need to take care of my body. I need to chase down every possible path to get the education that I want.
My fears are trying to teach me to take care of myself, and I will listen. And if I cannot exactly find them delightful, I can walk with grace into a life more filled with delight, in part because of those fears. Light and dark, both leading me to the life I want, both trying to guide me to the life God wants for me. And, with a little more jet lag in the cards for my future (a 3 week trip accompanying my great aunt Rose around Devon and Somerset), I think I can manage to find some delight in the surreal.