Grounded. At rest.
My return to regular life after the travels and conference experience of last week has felt pretty brutal.
Each day since I’ve been home, around 4:30 in the afternoon, I hit a wall of exhaustion. My mind goes into that crazy-scary mind-meld place where it feels like sections of my mind go fuzzy and then shift on top of each other. (Does that ever happen to you when you’re flat-out tired?) My eyes glass over, and I feel like all I want to do right then is crawl into bed and curl under the covers, fast asleep.
Yesterday was the worst. I felt that way pretty much the whole day long.
This was confusing to me, since I’ve been home three days and have been getting a full night’s sleep each night now that I’m home. Shouldn’t the feeling of each day as I move deeper into this week be getting better, not worse? Kirk tells me it’s common for jet lag to feel worse on the second and third days, though, so hopefully that means I’m just moving through a normal process here.
Last night I was so tired at dinner that I thought my face was going to fall right into the bowl of soup on the table in front of me. So I took Kirk’s advice and crawled into bed around 7:30. I pulled the covers around me, pushed my earbuds into my ears, then scrolled to a new favorite song, “Out of Reach” by Eustace the Dragon, and let it play on repeat for about two hours, my eyes closed in grateful rest.
It was in that stillness that the now-familiar image of my 15-year-old self greeted me once I closed my eyes.
There she was, and I’m sorry to say that I immediately wanted to run.
Part of the reason I wanted to run is that it felt like I was doing nothing. And that’s because the other aspect of being back home so far has been the rush-rush-rush mode of each day.
This is partly to do with the adrenaline of my conference experience — up early each morning for 7:30 a.m. breakfast meetings and then pushing through, without a break, until at least midnight each day (and until 2:30 a.m. one night, when I ducked out of the hotel to enjoy a Eustace the Dragon concert with friends!). After a long travel day on Sunday, I got home around midnight and then was up and out of bed the next morning, ready to plow into my usual work and home responsibilities again.
So, there was the conference adrenaline at work in my body.
But there was also the conference aftermath — that feeling of needing to get caught up on All The Things. A new at-home work schedule that keeps me occupied at my desk from 9 a.m. until about 5 p.m. each day now. That feeling of playing catch-up on social media. Getting reoriented to life at home. Trying (but so far failing) to resume my exercise routine. And then Boston. And Gosnell. And Texas.
It’s been such a packed — and hard, nationally speaking — week.
As a result, I feel all out of sorts. My daily commitment to silence, stillness, solitude, and prayer have been lost in the shuffle. I’m trying to discern a new way forward. I’m not there yet.
And so, when I closed my eyes last night and immediately discovered the invitation to sit and be present with my 15-year-old self, I wanted to flee. It just wasn’t active enough. My body felt the need to keep going-going-going, even though I was so exhausted I could literally drop.
It felt like doing nothing.
And then I thought: Isn’t that the point? So often we hear that God just wants to “do nothing” with us — just enjoy hanging out and being together. I think of the formation process as one concerned with our being, rather than our doing. A lot of my personal calling to live my life in this world has to do with such counter-cultural stillness — being a repository of solitude and prayer on behalf of the world.
In this place of re-entry, my flustered, over-hyped, adrenaline-fueled, post-conference self is seeking such at-rest equilibrium and not finding it yet. It’s hard. I expect I’ll get there again (hopefully) soon. And in the meantime, I’m reminding myself that what feels like doing nothing is actually doing something — something sacred and important.
What is the invitation to what feels like “do-nothing-ness” in the formation process like for you?