change, fear, sabbatical, suffering


When I decided I wanted to blog during my sabbatical, being the planner that I am, I made a long list of all the different topics I might chose to write about. From quilting to spirituality to daily activities – I created a long list of possible topics.

At first I stuck to the list closely. I would check off a topic after I wrote about it – who doesn’t love a good check list?! Over time, however, I looked at the list less and less. I wrote about what arose on my walk that day or about what I saw through the window. I wrote about my personal experiences through this time of separation and rest. I wrote what was on my heart.

Recently I’ve experienced deep, personal pain. I’m sure that has been sensed through my last few posts. I may be able to come up with other ways of describing that pain without really talking about it, and if I do, that’s fine. However, there’s a part of me that wants to move on – to find something new to write about. This pain isn’t for a moment, but a lifetime – in other words, it’s not going away anytime soon. At some point, it will be time to write about something different – but anything different doesn’t seem quite as important. Deciding on a different topic – a topic that isn’t bursting from my heart – doesn’t seem possible.

Today though, I was reminded of my list. Oh right – I have a list. Several months ago I thought it might be good to have a list of possible writing topics. Back then, only a few months ago and yet it feels like a different time altogether, I thought some time in the future having a list might be helpful. I do appreciate how considerate and helpful past-Anne was – little did she know how her planning would be needed.

There are times that we need a list. Times that we need a reminder or two. Or three. We need a hand to guide us, a shoulder to steady us, a face to reassure us. We need to remember. To remember that we’ve endured before and we are still here. To remember that one day the crying did stop happening as frequently. To remember that creation keeps going, day after day – the sun still rises even on hard days. To remember that people show up just when you need them.

I’m consistently struck by the amount of psalms that are all about remembering. Out of the blue I’ll read one that begins with the story of slavery and works through the story of redemption. This need to remember isn’t new to us. It’s a part of being human. We need to be reminded that we aren’t alone, that we can survive. We need to be reminded that “us” and “them” are human constructs not intended for the world. We need to be reminded that blood flows through my veins the same way blood flows through “theirs.”

I haven’t looked at the list yet, but I know it’s there. That in itself is comforting. When I’m ready, I know where to find it. When the time feels okay – not right, none of this feels right – I can go back to that list and test out one of those ideas. Or I can add to the list. Or I can start all over. There’s no right or wrong with this. I just have to do the next best thing and the next best thing after that.



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