My thoughts are like clouds, driven by a stiff wind

1. I love to sit and drink an Americano with two shots of espresso.

2. I'm so glad that Elena bought me that little espresso machine. She's prescient like that. Probably knew I'd be using it everyday.

3. The sky is so pretty today.

4. I want to knit myself a sweater with a hood that's big enough to fit over my gigantic head (actually my head's not that big, it's just that my neck is so long) and some socks, and a shawl, and some slippers and everyone I know linen hand towels and cotton dishcloths and soft wool blankets.

5. How long will that take me?

6. I want to write about something kind of intense, but I don't want everyone to feel sorry for me or have sympathy for me.

7. I want everyone to feel sorry for me and have sympathy for me.

8. No I don't.

9. Shoot, that Leaf Baby is cute.

10. I want a burrito.

11. My friend Devon looks so pretty with her new hair color. I wonder if I should dye my hair? Maybe black?

12. Black is a bad idea.

13. I want some stuffed pizza like we had on my last day in Chicago.

14. I hate that a lot of my friends live far away from me.

15. This coffee is really good.

16. I'm proud of myself for writing over 6000 words in the third first draft of my novel this week.

17. My novel sucks.

18. No it doesn't. I love my novel.  It's my fourth child.

19. Okay, so the kind of intense thing is this: I've lived in community since I was eighteen years old, which is eight years, for those of you who don't want to do the math. It's all of my adult life. I've never really lived any other way. And when I started out, I had a lot of ideals.  I was really starry eyed and intense about loving one another and looking out for each other and considering others before ourselves. And then, over the years, I began to get slightly jaded. And as people wandered in and out of my life, I started to more often have my arms crossed over my chest, to protect myself.  And then I started to think things like I'd better look out for myself, because no one else will. And actually, even I can't look out for myself, so I guess no one is. And then I even thought things like I can't tell anyone how I really feel inside.  And that turned into I'd rather kill myself than feel like I do. And then, there's no way out. And then something broke, and I started to talk to people more, and my fists unclenched a little, and life looked a little more beautiful, and I started to notice wildflowers again and to feel happy when I was hanging out with my friends, rather than alone.  And thoughts of death didn't come so suddenly, and I began to take pleasure in my kids, and the forest was healing to me.

And yet. There are always new corners to be turned, and I have gradually realized that I still have my arms crossed over my chest, and I have completely missed the point, somehow. To put it very practically, I spend very little time wondering how I can turn someone else's day from a speck on the calendar to a brilliant spark on their path.  You know, the special things.  Above and beyond. I spend my time playing out my role in the community, defending myself and my commitment, doing the office work that I tolerate. But what about life on the mountain?  What about washing other people's tired feet, for Pete's sake? What about encouraging others, even at my own expense?

I've learned a lot of simple things in taking care of myself when I'm feeling depressed. Remember my rules?  1. Wash your face and brush your teeth. 2. Eat at every mealtime. 3. Sleep at night.  I've expanded these to include, 4. Take breaks throughout the day. 5. Write everyday. 6. Get on the floor and play with your kids.  And there's more.

But life can't only be reduced only to these things.  I had a realization this week that I've begun to think of a community as a place where we cohabitate, rather than a living journey, a walk together where we strengthen each other along the way.  And not only that, but have I begun to think of my marriage this way?  I've done so many things that are unintentionally hurtful to my husband over the years that I'm surprised, in a way, that he still looks at me with hope.

I have a little sermon that I give about condemnation versus conviction. Condemnation comes from the enemy of our souls and leaves you gasping in the creek bed, wondering whether you should just lie at the bottom until you drown.  Conviction takes you to the edge of a vast ocean and shows you a new way to be. It hurts, sometimes, to realize you've been stuck on the land when you could have been sailing, but the beauty of the ocean soothes you and draws you to itself.  And that's where I am, I'm not lost in this, I'm afloat, God is beside me. The sky is pleasant and I have years ahead to try again.

But I feel like I need to apologize, to any of you reading who have been a part of my community. I'm sorry. I forgot how beautiful it could be. I don't even know if I'll be able to do any better right now. The old defenses come up so quickly. But I can try.

20. That was hard to write.

21. I like the music that's playing in this café.

22. I need to download some Otis Redding.

23. This coffee is really good.