I can feel my soul getting thin.
That spring, I begin to know how I feel. For a few months, I rest. I stop the coffee. I stop the shoulds. I eat breakfast and lunch. I drink water and take my pills. I sing and dance and write three things. I stop freaking out, as much as I can, because I can’t afford to. A sermon or a paper or a perfect dinner is not worth a breakdown.
It’s as if the dial’s turned just slightly. At first, there is radio static. Then, I can hear myself, clear as day. I can hear what I think, what I feel. I begin to think simple things: This cake smells good. Those leaves are lovely.
For the first time, I can feel when my soul grows thin. I can feel when there are too many tasks and not enough mind. My thoughts circle. I make lists and feel too worried to do them. Or I feel listless. I refresh Facebook one, two, three times.
Before, I have always barreled my way through, all caffeine and worry and adrenaline. But now, I stop. I breathe deep. I ask myself what it is that I need.
When I was young, I read a verse from my purple teen Bible. I didn’t understand the chapter around it that talked about Assyria and Egypt and some alliance. But I understood this. I underlined it: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
I read it again. I understand Assyria and Egypt and the alliance now. But I underline that passage again, in my hardcover theologian’s Bible with its critical apparatus and its notes from the Greek. Maybe if I kept reading those words, I would begin to believe them. Returning and rest. Quietness and trust.
My soul is thin. It is in need of saving, in need of strength. So I return.
I return to old prayers that I loved. I return to the kitchen, sauteing onions and garlic in olive oil, stirring rice and wine into a risotto. I breathe it deep, and I think that heaven must smell like olive oil and aromatics. I play CDs of old hymns and acoustic guitars. I sing myself home.
I walk away from achievements and grades and gold stars for a moment. I empty my hands, and I pick up simple things. I pick up novels and spatulas and dishrags.
All these months later, I feel that thin soul again. I begin to feel frantic, like I need to do something, I need to read something, I need to prove myself, I need to find a job right now.
I know what to do. It is eighty degrees and sunny. I drive until I see the Pacific, blue in my windshield. I put down the pressure, the panic, and I pick up small things, quiet things: a book, a towel, a pair of sandals.
I sit, quiet. I dig my toes into the thick sand. A bikini-ed mom teaches her son how to surf, and they hug and scream over his first big wave. I think simple things: The sun is warm. I like this book. The sky is so clear today. I notice small things: a white plane against blue sky, waves crashing against rocks, gulls fishing in the shallow water, children playing in tide pools.
I return. I sit with simple things, quiet things. As the sun beats down and the waves roll in, I am saved.
This post is part of a series, 31 Days of Healing. Check out Day 1 or the complete list of posts. If you want to follow along, you can also subscribe by email or subscribe in a feed reader. Or “like” the blog on Facebook. (We’re all about options here.) And thanks for reading!