Friday, November 11, 2011

slowing down

It has been nearly a month since I declared a self-imposed internet rest; though I have been away from the computer more by circumstance than by self-discipline this month.  We just finished a month that felt like a marathon: Jim working crazy overtime+ sick kid + sick kid + sick kid + birthdays + party + vacation + in-laws visit + good friends . . . all good things.  Wondrously good.  Probably the best month of the whole year, also the busiest month of the whole year.

It was so much fun while it lasted but now I am craving a little bit of quiet, a little bit of routine, maybe even a little bit of snow?  In fact I am secretly excited about our first winter in the snow belt- it feels like an adventure!  (Ask me how I feel about winter in March).

Today my only plans are to drink tea and read blogs and search Pinterest while pulling the kids off of my computer.  And there may be something pumpkin-ish in the oven and soup-ish on the stove.

My online step-back fell at just the right time as life amped up and for a few weeks I didn't have a second to spare; I credited my abstinence from facebook for granting me a little mental clarity during all of the craziness.  I have found that I do miss some of my online friendships, the people who I only connect with through social media.  But I do not miss the constant buzz, the constant temptation to be always distracted from my real life.  I know that social media (facebook) can be used for good, that it has been a blessing for me during some seasons, but for me, for this season, the disconnection is what my soul (and my family) needs.  I don't miss it at all.  (Confession: I do pop on occasionally just to check up on a few friends).

I read two books lately:

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
This book is about the relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter as the daughter discovers her beauty and sexuality, and how it drives them apart.  I enjoy Strout's frank, and witty style and the way she creates characters that are so complex and so real.

Lit by Mary Karr is a memoir, (Karr's third- this is the first I have read of hers) telling the story of her slide into alcoholism as a young wife and mother.  Written more like a novel than memoir, her story is searing; as Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times reviews, the book "lassoes you, hog-ties your emotions, and won't let you go."

Alcohol became a way for Karr to cope with the buckling pressure and guilt of motherhood, and her own mother's destructive alcoholic shadow; her self-destructive path eventually led her to a place where she could open to the faith that she had not only resisted but scorned her whole life.  As an academic she was practiced in dismantling any hint of belief, but after a lot of encouragement from her friends at AA she finally opened her heart just a little to the possibility of grace, and gratitude, and began to find a presence of love that she eventually would acknowledge as God.  Her faith journey is fascinating, marked by unexplainable small miracles and unlikely teachers, especially the broken, hurting and faith-filled friends she meets at AA.

My favorite passage from the book comes from a conversation she is having with Jack, a friend and fellow AA member.  When he refers to making boxes he is talking about his job at the box factory, and when he refers to setting chairs in a circle he is talking about his volunteer duty at AA meetings, to set up the chairs each week.
Instead, his eyes meet mine evenly and he says- as it seems everybody says- You should pray about it.  
But what if I don't believe in God?  It's like they've sat me in front of a mannequin and said, Fall in love with him.  You can't will feeling.
What Jack says issues from some still, true place that could not be extinguished by all the schizophrenia his genetic code could muster.  It sounds something like this: 
Get on your knees and find some quiet space inside yourself, a little sunshine right about here.  Jack holds his hands in a ball shape about midchest, saying, Let go.  Surrender, Mary. 
I want to surrender but I have no idea what that means. 
He goes on with a level gaze and steady tone:  Yield up what scares you.  Yield up what makes you want to scream and cry.  Enter into that quiet.  It's a cathedral.  It's an empty football stadium with all the lights on.  And pray to be an instrument of peace . ..  
What if I get no answer there? 
If God hasn't spoken, do nothing.  Fulfill the contract you entered into at the box factory, amen.  Make the containers you promised to tape and staple.  Go quietly and shine.  Wait.  Those not impelled to act must remain in the cathedral.  Don't be lonely.  I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger.  But I have to go to a meeting and make the chairs circle perfect.


Fijufic said...

Thank you for the update and the post....You have been missed.


Janet said...

Yes, I'll be curious to hear how you feel about the snow belt in March. :-)

Kudos for enacting some noise reduction in your life.