I brought some of my treasures out, missing the forests and oceans of my other home(s).
I've always had a problem with waking up in the middle of the night and thinking too much. The Psalmist says, “I meditate on you in the watches of the night.” I wish for it. Sometimes, when I am in those unforgiving hours when every problem feels like a life sentence, I try to visualize being completely surrounded by God. I am floating, suspended in grace and love. I am weightless, safe, and tiny, a speck in the river. The river is mercy, purpose, and good heartedness toward me.
I drift off to sleep eventually.
Can anyone overcome a life of bad patterns of thinking?
Sometimes it is lifted, and I feel free and like I’m completely changed. Other times, it plummets back down on me. Anxiety. A pounding in the heart. A quickening of the breath. Danger! Danger!
Gertrude is back.
Gertrude, my anxiety dragon. She’s rather sweet and lovable sometimes, curled up asleep in the closet. But she can be a regular pain in the bum if she wakes up while I’m trying to write a book, or go shopping (she hates shopping) or talk to Chinua about plans (she hates making plans.)
She worries too much about danger.
“Go back to sleep, Gertrude,” I tell her.
She responds with a gust of flame and wraps around my heart, making it hurt.
“Or don’t,” I say. I can’t make her do what I want.
I want to love her, like I want to love everyone. Nothing can be too scary if it’s loved. But sometimes I’m preoccupied by what ifs- what if I didn’t have a pet anxiety dragon? What if she toddled off into the forest one day, never to be seen again? What if instead of an anxiety dragon I had a confidence rabbit?
Can you love something and want to exchange it for a rabbit?
She’s here at the moment, trying to warn me of imminent danger. I’ve tried to convince her that these woods are safe, that the trees are our friends, but she’s nothing if not vigilent.
Sometimes when Gertrude is here, she locks up my neck.
Sometimes I may have to go to bed for the day.
Today, I have a plan. Fifteen minutes, not thinking too much, tricking the dragon.
Fifteen minutes of work at a time.
Live in my body, hugging my family, not thinking about what I cannot control.
And tricks, lots of tricks, tricky tricks.
A cup of tea.
A drive on the motorbike for the breeze on my skin.
One small task done.
Pretending work is not work, so Gertrude doesn’t blast me.
And noticing every little thing, to mark it, to make it physical, to not let fear rule me.
We’ve had rain lately, and the skies have been gorgeous. Soon Isaac will wake up and come to find me and hug me. Leafy has been making sugar glass. I’m learning a new song on the clarinet, and working on mandolin scales. Today is gardeniing day, and I think I’ll head over to Shekina to work in the garden for a while, then come back with my friend Claudia to work on sorting and packing.
(We’re moving house, which is rather big news. Gertrude is worried about it. I’m excited.)
I made granola the other day, and there’s nothing like granola and milk with mango sliced into it. Or maybe I’ll have a smoothie, with coconut milk and strawberries. I’ll burn a candle. Maybe work on my blanket. Later Kenya and I will watch a show or listen to music together. Chinua will move a few boxes over to the new house and in between working, practice his trumpet. Solomon will dance and hug me. I’m here. These trees are friendly. The animals are safe. The woods are only woods.
It’s been this way for a long time.
God is ever and always beside me, his breath in the wind that swoops through the leaves overhead. His kiss on my face. I have nothing to fear.