It hasn’t been an easy winter.
It hasn’t been an easy spring.
Heck, it hasn’t been an easy year.
If I had to pinpoint a starting place, it would have all started with the laundry back in March 2014. For some reason, my clean clothes ceased making it to the dresser or closet. Within a couple weeks, they ceased being folded altogether. I justified the lag all up to nerves: I was planning to launch a Coming Home pilot project after all. Plenty of planning, volunteer support, programming, and recruiting participants. Lots to do, lots to hope for, lots to pray for.
By the end of June, it was pretty clear I wasn’t going to have anyone able to commit to the program. I held out until the actual start date, but Coming Home didn’t happen… again. And I had a month off of work now with nothing to do, and little financial reserve to create a backup “self-care” plan.
The laundry was lucky if it even left the dryer most weeks. I only swapped clothes out when I actually had to use the machine, and even then they were dumped into a heap in the hamper. Dirty clothes didn’t even get a hamper — just a spot on the floor in the closet.
Knowing myself as I did (and do), disappointment is one of the hardest emotions for me to cope with. It’s just too much. I put so much of myself into life and it’s callings (??) that when things don’t work out, my very identity is thrown for a loop. So this lengthy dysthymia got chocked up to a “stage in life” phase. Just too much disappointment and I needed to be gentle with myself (pffft… like that’s so easy for us, right?). I did all the right things: read books outside near the lake, took long walks, enjoyed family times, listened to swing music, and treated myself to ice cream now and then.
But something heavy and dark hung on.
I stopped getting up in the mornings to journal, pray and meditate. I could only lay in bed, finding energy. I could not have cared less what God thought, if there was a God who thought anything.
The “stage-of-life” phase got darker, realizing the hope for having children was quickly fading.
Fall stretched out, thankfully, which allowed more outside time. Having said that, we experienced one of the gloomiest, most sunless autumns/winters I can remember. Cold or warm, the sun just had a hard time peeking out. Who knows? Maybe the sun was having a tough season too.
And then my 2 bunnies got sick (again), and I had no money for expensive vet fees to fix them. Finally, in March 2015 (a year after the laundry began to suffer), I woke up one day and made that awful choice we all know too well: I walked into the vet clinic and said goodbye to my little family. I had no ability to calm them — they were so scared! — so right to the end, it was trauma from start to finish.
A friend from a few years back passed away from complications related to AIDS.
I stopped sleeping at night. (And if you know me well, sleep is my “thing”. Everyone — absolutely everyone — needs adequate rest or we become quite unwell. But for me all it takes is one bad night and the world fractures into a million pieces.)
I stopped digesting food properly.
Life plans I mapped out to try and make changes all stopped in dead ends. No money? Won’t travel (even to move to another apartment).
Anyone who talked about “the joy of the Lord” was someone I wanted to smack upside the head. Other than taking Scripture out of context with great aplomb, they were also being overly simplistic, ignorant and heartless (because of course my superpower is the ability to discern every intention of every person). But you get my drift: trite truisms became overly offensive and all I felt I could do was hide.
But then I had a thought — a small thought, but when thoughts become dark, incoherent and fragmented, a small thought is like discovering gravity using an apple.
“In our part of the world, mornings come slow.”
I’ve traveled to places closer to the equator and sunrises and sunsets happen pretty fast. Up here in Canada, you can watch either for hours.
Mornings come slow.
It’s said “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, and it’s true. Anyone who’s camped outside at night knows the chill and dewy dampness seems the worst before the first sliver of grey appears on the horizon.
Here’s all of Psalm 30 so you can read the verse in context:
1 I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
[5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.]
6 When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
7 Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain[c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8 To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
So I began to mull over: “Hey, maybe I need to give myself a break…”
For some people, joy in the morning is a fast and furious burst of hard sunlight that heats the earth quickly. After a night of weeping, they are now on the mountaintops twirling around in the new light ready to take on the world again.
Maybe my mornings are all-too-Canadian: right now, there’s a faint trace of silver out towards the east. It’s still cold and chilly, and I haven’t slept well. It’s been a far-too-long night and I’m still living in the tears, shock, disappointment, total lack-of-emotion, and hopelessness of the night.
But light is coming.
I can’t force it to come faster, but nor can I stop it.
Mornings come slow.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I posted a picture of a kayak. I have some canoeing experience, but no kayaking experience. I live in an area riddled with lakes and rivers waiting to be explored. A canoe or rigid kayak is far too difficult for a single gal to transport (especially on a Ford Focus hatchback), but an inflatable kayak might give me a small way to get out the house, onto the lake, and… breathing.
It’s a form of exercise that allows me to paddle hard when I need rugged training; but it’s also a form of exercise that allows me to stop paddling, look around, breathe in, breathe out, drink in the colours, smell the smells, and perhaps even pull into shore and read a good book out on the water.
Mornings come slow.
For those of us still in the darkest part of the night, this can one of the most hopeful joys in the universe. I don’t need to “feel” joyful right now; I don’t need to jump up and embrace the sun, because… the sun’s taking it’s time, and it’s okay for me to do the same; I don’t need to watch my clock, timing exactly when it’s full sun-up, so then all of what’s happened in this darkness will melt away.
Mornings come slow.
And my joy might just come at the latest part of the morning, quietly paddling to a secluded part of the lakeshore, watching racing otters and elegant pelicans, tying in, opening a book, and…
Take heart, weary one.
Where I’m from, mornings come slow.