With my sudden week-long departure last week, I owe you an explanation.
Not because I have to post each week in this space—at times that’s both unrealistic and unnecessary. Instead, I want to share with you about my time away because it was an act of self-care—an unfolding spiritual practice in this very full season—and I want to invite you to do the same in times when the events of life carry you away from your center.
You might remember that my husband, Kyle, and I bought our first house toward the end of last summer. Since then we’ve been working on turning our basement into an income property, and though we’re closing in on the finish line, everything seems to be happening all at once, demanding our evenings, our weekends, and often interrupting our workdays. Add into the mix the fact that we’re both preparing to leave the country on our own respective pilgrimages (I’m co-leading a journey to Ireland and Kyle is finally walking the Camino), and our current circumstances quickly become overwhelming.
As a highly sensitive person, I’ve been aware of this for a while now, watching my anxiety build and my capacity decrease as the weeks progressed. The things which often act as an anchor were being uprooted—my home became noisy and chaotic, my backyard a construction zone, my time seemingly robbed and my finances draining (people warned us that renovations always take longer and cost more, and they were right).
Even my workplace was disrupted as they cut into the wall behind my desk to make repairs to the pipes in the neighboring bathroom—a metaphor for the greater ways in which my work and capacity to create were suffering, no doubt.
I felt as if I were drowning—grasping to simply stay afloat. Then, one day while driving, the Mary Oliver poem, “When I Am among the Trees,” appeared in my mind as if a message from my soul—
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily…
And, they do. At that moment something within me shifted, and the burden of what seemed to be drowning me was lifted as I began to focus on the glimmers of the Sacred that were saving my life, acting as the source of Life and the face of the Divine in this overwhelming season.
Apart from the trees and my daily walks in the forest, here’s what’s saving me right now:
- my dog, Sam
- early spring blooms
- sunny Seattle days
- sleeping until the sun rises
- starting my day with ease and intention
- fresh coffee in the morning and tea served in teacups in the afternoon
- tidying up while also surrendering control
- cooking soups and stews
- garden planning and dreaming
- saying “no” and lowering my expectations
- continually asking myself “What would bring more ease to this situation?” and “What do I have the capacity for?”
- morning yoga and daily reminders to breathe
These things are saving my life right now, and daily. They might seem simple in nature, but in this season they mean the world. And, in the end, isn’t it often the simplest shifts that can make the greatest difference? A shift in perception is always a miracle, no matter how small.
I took time away last week to take one thing off of my to-do list, to tend to what matters most, and to regain my footing. I painted walls, took walks, and stayed in my pajamas a little longer. And although I’m back at work—the construction continuing below and my departure drawing ever near—things feel different. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all that surrounds me, I’m savoring the ability to press pause and am holding close to the simple things that are saving my life—things that call me to return and remember—little miracles, indeed.
What’s saving your life right now, offering you glimpses of the Sacred when you need it most?