I shared in my recent life update video that the past few months have been an unexpectedly overwhelming season of busyness. I got to a place where it finally became too much, and so to recover my place of centeredness I went through an intentional process of discernment. I created a “tree of life” diagram and then made some decisions about which branches should stay on the tree or be cut off.
I thought in making these decisions, that life would become easier. That it would flow more freely. And it did, for a spell.
But then the holidays came. And we went out of town. And then committed to lots of intentional planning for the upcoming year. And then it was time to begin preparing for my January residency in Michigan. And that meant finishing out all the other last-minute details needing my attention before going out of town and starting a full-time job.
I leave on Friday for 8 days, and when I return I’ll launch straight into my new work.
It’s an exciting time, full of purpose and meaning, and I can’t wait to discover what’s ahead. But this morning I realized this means I’m in the final days of a season that has marked the last two and a half years of my life.
I can count the remaining days of this beloved, bohemian lifestyle on the fingers of just one hand.
So there are feelings of loss right now. And a recognition that the quiet, slow-paced days that my soul most naturally inhabits are really now at an end. My summer of solitude marked the end of those days, without my realizing that it was so. Life has been non-stop busy ever since, and will continue to be so as I juggle an invigorating full-time commitment, a graduate program, a spiritual direction training program, a heartfelt ministry to incarcerated individuals, and this lovely online space right here.
And the truth is, I’m learning that I don’t know how to connect to God well in the midst of all this busyness. My most natural place of connection to God is in the quiet, contemplative spaces. That’s where I fell in love with Jesus. That’s where I learned how to listen to my heart. That’s where I learned how to pray.
But when things get all stirred up and a bustle of activity swirls all around me, I lose sight of God. I even lose sight of myself.
Today, in a much-needed session with my spiritual director, I discovered how much the busyness spins me away from God and myself. And in the season ahead that will be full of life and vibrancy and so much activity and involvement in so many things, I wonder what that will mean.
Perhaps it means learning to relate to God inside the busyness.
At least, that’s the possibility that emerged during my session. And I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. After all, I don’t know how to relate to God in this place. How do I even begin? And does it mean giving up the precious connection with God I find in contemplative, still spaces? What if this new way isn’t enough?
Thankfully, something happened inside the session to make me more ready and open to learning some new ways of prayer.
There came a moment when my director invited me to voice to God the busyness. “If you look into the mystery that is God, can you just voice those words to him? Tell him those words, ‘I’m busy?’”
It was an admission I found difficult.
Again, God hasn’t been present with me inside the busyness. I’ve been trying to handle it all on my own. But to admit it, finally, to God? That felt hard.
However, those specific words she used about voicing this truth to the mystery of God were helpful. They connected in my mind to the great sense of swirling chaos I have been feeling inside all this busyness of life. So I imagined me, inside this swirling chaos, looking out at the great mystery that is God.
Quietly, with tears rolling down my face, I said in a very small voice: “I’m busy.”
In that image of my life as a swirling chaos that I was holding in that prayerful moment, I could see myself as a very small speck inside of it. A bright speck, but a tiny one, trying to harness all that swirly-ness and chaos on my own.
And in the midst of that twister-like chaos, I heard God say to me, “You’re valuable.”
Those two words. Wow.
To a tiny speck in mad, swirling chaos, those two words nearly knocked me off my feet.
I’m valuable? Me? A tiny speck?
To the master of the universe, I’m valuable. He sees me. Even in the midst of the madness, I exist. I matter. I’m valuable.
Thank you, Jesus.
Perhaps if God sees me in all my swirly chaos — not only sees me but finds me irrevocably valuable — I can begin to consider how to meet him inside the busy places. Perhaps I can learn how to connect to him in the active, non-stop moments.
After all, he sees me in those places. And if he sees me, perhaps I can see him, too.