I’ve written enough, I think, on slowing down, on making space for rest, on simplifying and giving room for roots to spread. I can recite this stuff in my sleep. I long for this season to be more about living and breathing this stuff, seeing what the shoes feel like once they’re worn in and how to deal with the blisters on my toes. But that comes with the hard cost of seeing how far short I will inevitably fall.
Because there will be days – so many days – where I fall spectacularly, and find that I really am quite rubbish, on my own, at this simplifying thing. Utterly exhausted after a busy week and another coming up, I ended up 2.30pm, crumpled up by the bus stop in tears and needing the voice of a kind boyfriend coupled with the whisper I had stifled in my heart saying ‘Go home. It’s ok’.
The tears were from
exhaustion, from feeling a complete failure because I hadnt managed to organise a simple family gathering. Because I have filled up my week despite deciding not to do that anymore. Because exams are coming and I’m somehow blaming time – which to my knowledge has remained unchanged at 60 minutes per hour – as opposed to my own choices on how to use it: there’s no time. Because I hate feeling like the ‘complicated’ one who always seems to be stressed or emotionally frazzled at a family occasion.
So I came home, thought about praying, couldn’t face it, and instead Facetime’d my mum on the off chance she’d be awake in Japan. She was, and she gradually spoke one truth, one comfort after another, chipping away at every level of perceived failure.
Don’t worry about what anyone else is thinking! You have done enough. You are enough, you don’t need to do any more. But what if I end up crying when I see them all? We are all suffering, all struggling – whether we choose to show it or not – why not just be honest? Rest, now. Just enter into rest. It’s okay.
As she spoke, her words gradually lifted the great shame weighing down my heart, calling me into a spacious place. She came into my pit of tears and shame – not to stay in there with me (which I think can often happen when we try to help those we love), but instead reached out a strong and gentle hand to help me out, to a place of truth and grace.
She told me about a documentary she had seen today made by a friend of hers about incarcerated women in San Francisco and the work of an organisation helping them break the silence around the stories of shame weighing down their hearts. The power of breaking the silence around words: failure; HIV positive; bitch; useless… to carry us along the road towards healing. We spoke about that for a while, both alive as we did – this is where we feel the beating heart of the Father. For it is for freedom that we have been set free…
After speaking for a while she went to find my grandad who had slipped out of the room once he heard how hysterically teary I was when I first called, not wanting to push his way in. We found him, about to go to bed, and he came out and sat on the top step. I was still crying and couldn’t even say hi to him without my lips shaking. I expected him to look at me and be worried, or ask what was wrong, and I could tell him all about my epic failures.
But instead he came into the screen and smiled in the way that only someone who cherishes your heart can. ´Aaah´ he said. ´You´re beautiful´.
Obviously, I wasn’t from any ordinary person´s perspective. I was a puffy hot mess. He just sat for a second, still smiling and I knew in that moment that this is what the Father wanted me to experience deep in my soul. He delights in me. He demands no justifications, no explanations, no talking. He just delights in me. It is so disconcerting and soul-stirringly wonderful. He delights in me and calls me Beloved, through the puffy mess. His smile, his words, his love provided a resting place for my spirit. For all my worries and explanations and justifications.
Tell me about Paris, I´ve been wanting to know…he says. The beauty of the conversation, the glimpse of the Divine which his life – which the lives of all those people we love so much it hurts – reminds me of my mortality. Of his mortality. And the beauty is made all the more acute, like a heartbreaking sunset.
Did I tell you I had a saxophone recital a couple of weeks ago? I played Amazing Grace. I remembered him playing that in December. He read me a letter sent to him by his sax teacher after the recital. Even though I know you were nervous, somehow you made music from that place. Okay, so all your notes weren´t perfect and you messed up here and there. But you were able to ad lib around those mistakes and pick yourself up. Someone said to me that your music spoke to them – that it spoke to them on a deep level.
In my mind, there is never such a thing as too much symbolism. I was happy to allow these words to wash over me, spoken in a voice so beloved to me and so familiar. Come to rest. You are beautiful. You don´t need to explain anything. You will make mistakes, I know that. But you will ad lib around them and I´m not worried. Just keep playing. Come to rest.