I still fall into the yawning break in the earth sometimes. I'm just walking along, trying to take care of my crew, trying to do my work, and next thing I know, I've missed a step, I've tripped, I've fallen in.
It takes a long time to climb back out, sometimes. And I get nervous about talking about it here, though I have many times before.
What does it mean? Anxiety? What is it that I fear?
It is nameless. It is paralyzing. It is looming. When it has me in a choke hold, whatever I attempt feels futile from the start. I start things and feel deep fear, and can't finish them. I sit down here and I am convinced that what I write will be disappointing.
(Last night I cried for half an hour over just that word: disappointing. The sound of it in my brain is like a giant screeching bird with sharp claws.)
It is a desert. It is a wasteland.
When they walk through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of Springs, and the early rain will come and fill it with pools.- Psalm 84:6
A long time ago, I learned that when it moves in and tries to smother me, I need to be slower, kinder than ever. Deliberately kind. I can't feel it myself, but I am fighting back. My brain tells me that people are scary, that they will hurt me, that they will judge me. I fight back by being kind. I make the Valley of Mourning a place of pools by cooking food, by reading to my kids, by smiling at everyone I see when I'm on the road. I am fighting back, though I feel none of the comfort I am trying to offer.
Yesterday was the worst kind of day, the day that holds no kindness, the day that makes me feel like I've already failed. I reach for kindness and it isn't there. I have nothing to fight back with. At the end of my long, terrible day, I walked along the shore with the kids. I had already been unkind to them, hurrying them with sharp words when they wanted to stop and look at insect nests. I had spread my anxiety around liberally.
I was walking to meet Chinua and some others to sing songs on the beach. A worship circle. After trying to sit for a while, I had to jump up and find a stick. I used it to draw on the sand. I drew pictures on the sand. It wasn't much, but it was all I had, yesterday. The kids drew pictures too.
I don't know, it is a confession of sorts. I am passing through the Valley of Baca. I know that I will come out the other side, though it may take a while.