A series of rivers and roads

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

So much is different from two years ago. So much is different from what I thought 2018 would look like.

It feels like a series of rivers and roads. Some paths that I knowingly and willing took--a turn into a definitive road, one that led me away from where I was. And some, rivers. By turns small and trickling, forceful and overpowering. Leading me away, turning me over and upside down, swirling and a turning-of-a-different-sorts.

Rivers and roads.

I think about all of our friends from college. Two, three, four years out, we are all the same in that we are gone, all of us who once knew each other. Scattered and spread to different corners and places, hurting and learning and loving and mistake-making in our own separate lives...each of us looking across the distance and wondering if the other has it better, or if somehow, somewhat, that person's life is easier. If just slightly. We miss each other and wonder in our respective cities, feet hurrying, eyes down, soul by turns content then weary then hopeful then frightened then overwhelmed, how to do this thing called life. And whether we will ever find friends again such as each other. Will we ever laugh until tears come with someone in person, will we ever rant and unload over dinner, waving a fork emphatically, no need to censor or speak articulately?

Rivers and roads. This is life and getting older, I think. A constant succession of confusion and painful loneliness and odd joy and wondering if it will get easier and better. And the thrumming belief that it does--that it must. That soon we'll be able to see for miles and miles and miles in the landscape of our lives and it won't be so unclear.

In the end, I suppose, we are all trudging through our twenties wondering what the view looks like from up there--wherever there is. Our thirties, perhaps. Whenever we are done with growing. Which is to say, never. Which perhaps, is the point, the lesson of our twenties. Maybe we get softer and learn to let go, that somehow things will unwrinkle for a time, and that just like the seasons, hard days will come around again.

And so it goes. The rhythm of growing. Rivers and roads.

--a response to stumbling upon this mirror of a song 


Thursday, February 8, 2018

More kindness. Softer edges. Deeper boundaries. Sit next to the line drawn in the sand instead of shouting about its existence to the world. Listen instead of talking. Send flowers when able to, a text always. Pair friends with books. Dress the little girl inside. Celebrate the whimsy. Trust that it's not supposed to be perfect, no matter how hard you try. More sparkling water, less wine. Plenty of sleep. Think about how things should feel rather than how they should look. Expand skincare. More pinks and reds and blues. Soak up these moments.

This and That

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Quiet Romance of Being Alone

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ryan's been gone for almost two weeks on a family trip. I've been surprised by how hard it's been--things feel off, unbalanced, my routine shaken without him here. We've built a life with rhythms, and I'm ready to return to it. Yet it's felt like all of last year when we were long distance and every night from 9:30 on was set aside for him and everything before that was a pocket of free time.

I have so much time on my hands now. Nothing but time and it's been a curious challenge to fill it.

I've spent many hours with Finn contently napping on me, re-watched countless delightful episodes of Frasier, baked herb-marinated chicken, taken my time eating dinner, pulled my gym shoes out of the deep recessives of my closet and worked out (several times!) for the first time in too-long-to-say, caught up on The Crown and Victoria and all the British shows Ryan steadfastly opposes. I miss him terribly, always, especially at night and in the morning. But here and there, I find myself drinking in the small moments of quiet.

A lamplit apartment. The gentle stretch and warmth of yoga on your bedroom floor. Leggings and a soft v-neck t-shirt slipping off one shoulder. The bottle of wine in the fridge. Cracking open a can of sparkling water to elevate a simple meal. This feeling of limberness and calm. The brillant amaranth hue of a grapefruit halve. A cat curled, eyes closed, in the crook of an armchair. Gregory Porter crooning softly in another room. A pan of broccoli with lemon and olive oil roasting for dinner. Simple pleasures, savored and sacred when by oneself.

There is supreme loneliness in being alone at times, whether single or not.

But there is also a quiet romance--a loveliness--too. 

Advent: The Small and the Sacred

Friday, December 1, 2017

A distant light, muddled, blurred in motion...a soft haze of something joyful and celebratory, but not quite discernible, that will gradually become sharp and clear and wonderful and piercing. 

This coming Sunday is one I have long looked forward to...for the past month and a half now, I've caused Ryan to chuckle fondly by saying aloud every other week, while rocking back and forth on my feet, "It's almost Aaaaaadvent!"

He laughs because there is always a childlike wonder and joy in my eyes when I say it. All of us, I think, become children in December, halted in the wonder and sacredness of this season. It is a season of anticipation, one so dear to my heart that I spend all of October and November in a glorious state of anticipation for THE season of anticipation.

The season of Advent. Today we lay out wreathes and candles, purple and greenery are hung in churches because this is a new beginning. The end of Ordinary Time and the birth of a new liturgical year...Advent is the first of the two seasons of preparation in the liturgical year. Lent is the other...a penitential season of purple and somber fasting to prepare for Easter.

Lent is good in the way that most things in life are--it is hard and necessary in its request of sacrifice and silence, and that is precisely why we need it. Why it is good for us. We must go through the dryness and hardship to journey towards the triumph of Easter.

But I have always loved Advent in a different way from Lent. If Lent is a penitent waiting for the triumph and glory of Christ's resurrection, Advent is a quiet, hushed waiting beneath which pulses a steadily rising joy. We wait, tremulous and tender, on the edge of a holy anticipation.

There is something fresh and new and wondrous about Advent, like a deep inhale of cold, clear air on a dark starry night. Advent is the season of joyful waiting--waiting with hushed voices and bated breath for the birth of a new hope. For the promise made manifest in a Babe nestled within a wooden manger that something far greater is coming also in the form of wood. That a deed so wonderful and terrible will be worked that death will go backwards and the world itself will shake.

Advent is the promise in winter that spring will come--that soon, a Lion will shake His mane and an object wrought by man will become the means of his salvation.

It is the prelude, the rising note of joy to remind us that on the other side of the new year, a few short months away, lies a holy journey that ends in a dark, empty tomb, and the most glorious of all Light that bursts forth in the shadows never to be defeated.

And here we are, on the cusp of this joyous liturgical season. Every Advent, I feel my soul quicken and a longing to be still and hushed arises.

Last month, I decided I would write and publish an daily Advent devotional in time for December. I'd contemplated the idea last year and decided to make it a reality. I'd gotten quite far in the planning stage only to slowly realize how much I already had on my plate. November was slipping past me and I knew December would be full with work, wedding planning, and all the other things of life. I could either do it well and let everything else fall, or focus my attention on the things already tasked to me. If I truly wanted to carve out stillness and quiet my soul for this season, taking on something else (even if it was good), was not the way.

So with a silent sigh, I put that idea to the side and came up with a happy compromise: celebrating Advent in the small ways.

Even though December will be a flurry of a month in the rush before Christmas, I've planned ahead. This year, I'm challenging myself to find the small moments of each day. Because I believe there's a sacredness in the small and simple and mundane.

So I've made a list of 24 small things. Physical actions to do each day of Advent to celebrate both the small and the sacred. As this is not just a somber season, but also a joyful one, there are some Christmas activities sprinkled in. While my own list in in written in pen and paper in a small black-bound journal, I thought I'd put together a nicer version and share it on here. Just in case you, too, feel overwhelmed with everything in December and are looking for some way to mark each day of Advent.

Some of these are specific to things I'm hoping to do this Advent, some might sound unfamiliar to you, and some might not work with your schedule or time or season of life. Feel free to switch the days around or substitute your own ideas. I'll be back with another post breaking the list down a little more and sharing some of my favorite poems, verses, and quotes about Advent...it's a list of the silly and the sweet, the small and the sacred. Here's to a life of that, and to a joy-filled Advent.

Happy December, friends. Let us be awake and keep watch.