Here is the best–and worst– part about old journals, Lord–busted, I’m busted. So a few days ago I was rejoicing over the growth I saw, looking back at pages from 15 years ago. Well I read a little further and I stumbled on an entry from mid-May that could have been written yesterday. Sure, the circumstances were different then–I was finishing up a later-in-life undergrad degree, studying for exams and preparing papers, but the stress responses, the fatigue, and my desperate, articulated on the page need for some time outside was identical. So writing that down, i think I see two things: this is not a new issue, a new problem and I think it dates all the way back to my school years; and second, the outdoors has been my safe soothing place for a long, long time.
So I really want to copy down here what I wrote there and then. Because I need to talk to You about this. I wish it could be once and for all. But maybe it can at least be for now. “In one sense I have no business doing anything but run this marathon called spring quarter (substitute, get open for season) but…I have a ton of buts. But I’m so tired. But I’m said. But my head is in a vice. But…but I want a break, not a big break–but some small break, some outside, outdoors break. Change focus. I deliberately am not going to write three pages, takes too long. Instead I’m going to shower and leave and go somewhere. Sounds rebellious just to write that down. Why should a morning beach walk or the Ridge be rebellious? Because duty has tons of tasks right here. When is a break ok? When I’m breaking? I don’t know.” WHEW! Yikes. May, 2003.
I have a flood of memory. Being on call for work, in an era before cell phones, so that I didn’t dare even go to the beach for more than an hour even on the weekend “in case” I was called, called in to work or to answer a question or attend some meeting. Good grief. I remember unplugging the phone for a solid weekend and my roommate and I binge watching wonderful movies, Ghandi and Biko and I can’t recall what else. Something Native American but I don’t remember the title. I remember how I felt good and bad, doing that. I remember talking to the personnel director at the time, about all the extra work I was being expected to do after hours, but because my bosses were committee volunteers, I was told there was nothing I could do about it–and stay employed. Of course I did what I do. I stayed employed! It was seven years later and it took my mom’s illness before I finally left that job. But obviously I didn’t leave the mindset.
God, Great Creator, Your own Name is I Am. Not I Do. How can You help me?
SO much in your culture, your schooling, your family, your past employment, and even the example set by your husband extols and rewards work, effort, productivity. You have been well trained, trained to perform. But life is not a circus, and you are not a trick pony. Nor are you a racehorse. Nor are you destined to plod, plod along pulling a plow. When you picture a horse, what image comes to mind first?
Running free. Running over the plains. Running by the sea.
Freedom to Be, that is what comes first. Essence of Horse, yes? So what is Essence of Eve? That is what I want you to ask yourself, tonight and in the morning and in the days ahead. I will give you a hint–it is not what you think. It is not what first comes to mind. Your gifts, your talents, and yes your working life, these are outpourings in particular channels of an inner life. I want you to think less about the channels and more about the spring, more about the river. I want you to think more about the Essence. More about Being. Not about Being Efficient. Not about Being Organized. Not about Being Productive or Being Successful. Not even about Being Faithful, which you translate into productivity and effort, into doing and away from merely being.
Eve means Life. “Mother of all Living” — which you have chuckled over, adopting stray cats, calling yourself Mama. You have chuckled and donned a mantle of great and grave responsibility. Once before I asked you for a cloak, to give Me the cloak you were wearing. Do you remember?
Lord, how can I forget? Of course I remember. “I clutched my grief to my body like a robe/said it is all that is mine I have left/but I threw it down at Your feet and turned to go/cold, alone, bereft”
And what happened next, in your vision, in your lyric?
You led me to the beach. You wrapped a new warm something around my shoulders. You began to heal that broken place inside.
Somewhere along the way, you abandoned the cloak I gave you, and you wove for yourself a new one–this mantle of responsibility. It is neither keeping you warm nor keeping you dry. And I want you to do what I asked you to do years ago. Give Me your mantle. Give Me your sense of weighty responsibility, that feeling you have that so much depends on you and your effort, from your family’s health and safety to the health and safety of friends, to the success of your business and every artist whose work you so lovingly steward. Can you do that? Can you trust Me with your mantle, one more time?
Gosh God, there is blood and sweat and tears on this shawl. I don’t mean to be dramatic but there are a lot of years woven into these threads. Does this mean all that work, all that effort did not count?
No, little one. What it means is that you are trying to fit into a garment that was never meant for you. What I have for you to wear is a mystical, magical coat. It will grow as you grow. Its threads shimmer and gleam in moonlight and sunlight. It is soft and gentle to the touch yet the sharpest arrows of accusation cannot penetrate its weave. This is My Weaving, and I have spent all your life preparing it for you, for this moment. For the moment you are willing to let go, and begin to Be. Live into your name, live into your loves, live into your life. Give Me your heavy mantle. Slip on your new coat. Here is its first secret: see its color change as you tap deeply into the Essence of who you are, who I have made and called you to be.
One more thing. You can’t easily hide in this coat. This is not a camouflage garment. You will be both more conspicuous and more free, wearing it. You want to see how you look? Your reflection pool will be found first in the eyes of those closest to you, from animals to people you love who love you back.
Lord, what are You going to do with my old cloak, the one I just took off?
Give that cloak no more thought. I Am going to light a fire, to warm your winter and help light your way. This is not the sort of garment to hand down to anyone else, you know. And it had gotten way too heavy to wear in warmer weather, and your busier season. You would have fallen, trying to bear it. How does your new coat feel?
It, it feels lightweight. And oh my goodness, I just moved my neck and it is moving more freely, less stiff, less pain.
The lightness in your spirit will translate directly into lightness for your bones, and energy for your body and mind. And paradoxically, into more restful sleep as well. So sleep tight, little one. Snuggle into your coat. Let Me teach you about restful labor, and energizing rest.