Thursday, June 03, 2010

Stockpiling feels good

It's almost summertime. School is out in about 2 weeks here, and that means change. I think it's no coincidence that around now, every year, I feel a compulsion to scrapbook and make digital photo albums. A school year wrapping up makes me want to organize and stockpile the paraphernalia, art projects, photos, and certificates. That's all well and good - dare I say, normal. But I'm sitting on my couch realizing the compulsion runs deeper than that. Underneath is a true anxiety about loss: the bits of a sweet season with my kids I won't see again, the feelings I enjoyed, even the feel and smell of the physical spaces that grew so familiar and inviting to my children and me. It all wilts so suddenly.

I want to hold these things in tight fists. Saving every little thing and making digital photo albums are activities that delude me into thinking I am succeeding. They are ways I try to placate my anxiety over loss, but does the anxiety ever feel quenched? Do I actually have a better hold on what's past? Not really.

Today a friend was telling me that all her cool stuff keeps getting ruined. Her expensive jeans fell apart after one wearing. A special piece of jewelry from Europe just broke. She had a minor car accident. And all I kept thinking was how none of this stuff will last, and stop trying to expect anything besides regular loss with the passage of time. How depressing is that?

Well, very. If you don't understand what's happening. God wants us to have regular reminders that this life is not all He has for us, and this earth is not our home. He wants to meet our deep need for security with what is permanent. We feel confused about loss when we forget these truths. I can grapple for feelings, memories, even stuff that I don't want to lose, but when the day is done, I just have to let go. Stop with the tight fists. Be okay with a shoe box instead of five glossy albums. And then look to the Lord to speak to me about what will really last.

That's where I need to live: in the continual practice of opening my hands to all that is fleeting. Letting go.

I'm actually super comfortable with letting go of certain things. Hurt. Anger. Sometimes my agenda (sometimes, unless it's May). But I wish I could stockpile memories the way I stockpile paper towels. Rolls and rolls neatly stacked, always available. Just the idea of that sounds delicious and comforting. Secure. As if having a good grasp on what is behind me will somehow ensure greater stability for the future. (This is where God smiles at me the way I smile at my kid when she wants to wear black athletic socks with a summer dress. It just plain doesn't make sense. Right?)

So I'm ignoring the boxes of unfinished scrapbooking materials. And instead of lamenting the days that are coming to an end, my best recourse in quelling the anxiety is to be fully present in each day with my people. (I try to do this anyway, under normal circumstances, but remember I'm coming down off of May like it was a drug).

The giggles. The warming weather. The resistance to bedtime and the craving for bike riding. I'm soaking it all in and trying to remember what it was like to get that pre-summer buzz. Because in a few more months, I'll be missing that too.

The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the Word of our God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:7

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