I’d find myself at the end of the day staring at my phone, scrolling through Facebook and then Instagram and then my email, then Sudoku and then my crossword app, trying to feel fed, settled, entertained… something.
What was wrong with me?
“Why aren’t you writing?” Todd asked me. He knows if I go too long without writing or doing something halfway creative- even if it ends up at the bottom of a trashcan- I get grumpy and sullen and start caring about the house being a mess. Then I ask him to do things. I’m sure it’s annoying.
“I’ve got nothing,” I said, still scrolling.
I was empty.
I’d asked God to help me out. I turned to my literary boyfriend, Frederick Buechner, who always inspires me and connects me to the Sacred, and I nearly fell asleep mid sentence. Again.
I turned to Anne Lamott, my sister who sits on the bed with me (in my mind) and we share laughs and a bag of potato chips and deep thoughts, and when that didn’t work I called up Barbara Brown Taylor, who’s more like my favorite tree climbing cousin, and visited her altar in the world for a few pages. Same.
Then I shook myself by the shoulders. What was wrong? My family is all well. I love my work with the kids at my church and I love the staff. My new book is out and I’m happy that folks are reading it. I have a grand baby boy that makes cackling noises when I kiss his round belly. I should be a bubbling fount of zip. But I’m zapped.
What happened to “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”? What’s with that, God? I’m weary. Not unhappy–just Soul Weary. Just worn.
God just shrugged her shoulders and went off to visit somebody else. I guess it was up to me to figure it out.
Yesterday was my day off, so instead of sighing in my kitchen, eating the last of the chocolate I’d hidden from myself after Christmas, I decided to make myself get out in the rain and go to the art museum and see something beautiful.
And because I believe that wishful thinking has power, during the entire car ride I kept trying to drum up the tune to a song I used to know years ago with the lyrics from Isaiah 40, those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. The tune was all wrong, but I was trying…
BUT GUESS WHAT I SAW THE MINUTE I WALKED IN THE DOOR!
AN EAGLE’S WING!
Okay, so maybe it’s just a sparrow’s wing or who knows what bird it belongs to, but it was the reminder I needed that part of the way the Lord renews our strength and our zip is through PLAY and BEAUTY! I can’t expect God to drag me away to the playground/art museum whenever I need it, just like I wouldn’t expect God to drag me to the Bible or to Fred or Anne or Barbara. I have to make room for that! I have to give that to myself or I dry up and become shriveled me, not the me God hopes I’ll be.
So I lolled around the museum all by myself and had the best time looking at things that were beautiful, like this
Cows Watering, by Louis Betts
And things that were delightfully weird like this
Smashing Pumpkins, by Jamie Wyeth.
And things that made me think, like this.
The Pale Rider by Sidney Dickinson
And then I strolled into the gift shop just to say hello to the lady working there who looked friendly and lonely at the same time.
“Did you come to while away the rainy day?” she asked with a smile.
“No,” I said. “I came to get my zip back.”
She laughed. “Were you successful?”
“I’m getting there!” I said.
“It’s a fun place to play,” she added.
Thank you God, for the power of play and beauty.