Running on Empty

Can I just say this little light is not what you want to see go on when you’re stuck on the highway.img_1366

Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, several miles from the exit, facing the quickly setting sun, the E-Light illumined my drive.  How could I be running on empty?  When I left, I had plenty of gas to get home.  Nearly 2/3’s a tank.  That’s more than enough.  After I stopped bargaining, I quickly shifted into Girl Scout mode.  I have my just-in-case tools in the trunk.  I have gloves, scarf, hat, and even an extra pair of clothes.  My cell phone was fully charged.  If needed, I could pull over as the car ran out of gas.  Now, I know that the E-Light means you actually have 1-2 gallons of gas left.  I knew I had approximately 7 miles to go until I could get to the easiest Turkey Hill.  I was pretty certain I could make it.

But still–how could this happen?  I am such a good planner….

In the moments of standstill, I mediated on the dashboard light.  Yes.  I am indeed a good planner.  I had everything I needed for this journey when I started.  And yet still, it was not enough.  Even with the best plans and best preparations, the E-Light goes on.  Even with the hardiest self-care and the most robust meditation practice, the E-Light goes on.  I was running on empty. That’s just how some (most) journeys are.

I’ve intellectually known this reality for a long time.  After all one of my mantras is the Louisa May Alcott quotation: I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.

And yet when I’m sailing through a storm or sitting in traffic and the E-Light appears, I feel fear.  Fear that usually gives my mind a multiple choice brain game:

a.  What did I do wrong? b.Why can’t I prevent these things from happening?  c.  What can I do differently next time to prevent this from happening?  d.  All of the above.

These questions do not help me sail my own ship.  These questions do not remind me that running on empty is part of the journey.  If it were a matter of developing a more strategic traveling plan, practicing more meditation, or a  committing to self-care more deeply, the E-Light would never go on.  Sure I get depleted.  But I’ve learned how not to run myself that low.  No–this little light of mine was not a lesson in try harder; do better; think harder.

As I continued to meditate on the dashboard lights, I breathed deeply.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  During an exhalation, I realized if worst came to worst, someone could bring me some spare gas.  All I needed to do was call.  Deep breath in.  Thank you God…today I have people to call.  A litany of names ran through my head.  That is why I do not need to fear the storms.  Not only can I sail my own ship, but I am not alone in my boat.  Sometimes it takes the E-Light to surrender and remember, we were never meant to have enough gas to make our journey totally on our own.

Wandering in the Wilderness

It’s been two weeks–only a mere two weeks–wandering in the wilderness, and I admit I have looked longingly back at Egypt more than once.  I’m not proud of this, mind you.  But the reality is that stepping off the merry-go-round of career into the wilderness of transition is a challenge for me.  

There.  

I said it.  

It is a challenge for me.  

I want to be all “oh this is the best thing ever…I never knew my hardwood floors could shine like this.  I love being able to truly sit in the silence of the morning and breathe while I journal and drink my coffee.  I’m already creating Christmas presents from scratch.  The love overflows.”

But that would be a lie.

It’s more like, “Wow, it is uncomfortable to be a panelist for a presentation on marriage rights and not be representing a community.  Hmm…how do I answer this question about what I do now? Ummm…when someone asks about my reality how to I honor it honestly without having a replay of the scene from Sex in the City where Charlotte blurts the full details of her marriage/separation drama to a complete stranger over a simple observation about the beauty of her wedding ring?”

How is it that following God and listening to call can land one in the midst of the wilderness worrying about becoming a version of Sex in the City?  That is what I want to know.   

How is it that acting in ways that correspond with what one (me) says one (I) believes creates such tension and anxiety within?  This is where my previous (intellectual) knowledge of faith formation becomes useful.

 How is it that I could sense the Holy so palpably a few weeks ago and yet here, in the midst of the wild, I can’t even seem to feel a breeze?  This is why I’m writing today.

For the last four years I’ve been engaged in full-time ministry.  The cartography of my life fashioned by the calendar of the Church.  For two weeks I’ve wandered beyond the lines of that map and into the wilderness.  And though I might look back at Egypt, I know that is not where God calls.  God calls me forward and into the wild. 

Taking Root

When I stated this blog over a year ago, I was seeking to find my fit–literally and figuratively.

And if you followed the blog, you’d notice that I hit my goal weight in the summer of 2011 and just as I achieved this goal, my writing (and my running) got waylaid.  Perhaps it’s age.  Perhaps it’s personality.  Whatever the cause, I am simply not someone that can put my wilderness wanderings  web-wide while I  walk the path.  I’m one of those people that needs to marinate on something.  Savor it singly before sharing.   That said, I realize it’s been a season of silence.  And like the trees in winter, what was visible seemed dormant and barren while beneath the surface, activity abounded.

It seems that I’ve found my fit.  In addition to maintaining my goal weight, 2012 is a year of rootedness.  In March I was officially called as pastor of a growing church, Trinity Reformed United Church of Christ.  Next month, I will get married.  After seven years of of wilderness journey, I am saying yes to settlement.  Yes to a church.  Yes to marriage.  Yes to step-mom-dom.  Most of all, I am saying yes to trusting God.  So it only seemed appropriate to update this blog–and say it’s not so much about finding my fit anymore…as it is learning to live into my fit.  For me that’s going to mean navigating the pastor, wife, step-mom role–along with living the lectionary.

So, here’s to pondering the lectionary and its intersections with life.