Click. Whirl. Click. Whirl. Click. Whirl. Around and around it goes keeping time better than a seasoned drummer. There must be something in the dryer hiding in a pocket. A coin, a clergy collar stay; a piece of sea glass. Hopefully it is not a melty thing like the blue crayon that turned my dryer into an aquarium diorama  last year. It is the sound of an unscheduled morning, all kids in school, husband at work and the dog lounging on the bed, thankful to have quiet. He seems to like the new temperpedic pillow as much as I do, if only he knew it cost $60 on sale. The weather is cooperating with my mood, a sunrise of orange and gold stripes giving way to heavy gray clouds which threaten rain. A day to stay at home, if not in bed, dreaming of soup and comfort.

The luxury of this time. I was in a meeting last week where we started speaking of the need for quiet and how our crazy busy lives had no time for it. Really I thought…whose fault is that? My first job at a boarding school required morning chapel every day. Assigned seats, coat and tie attire. I think it was no coincidence my seat was directly behind the headmaster’s so he could monitor any snickering or tardiness from me. Once a week the chaplain would conduct a meditation service. All 500 of us were required to sit silently and ponder. For FOUR minutes. It was an eternity. At times I would count to 60 4 times, others 30 8 times. Occasionally I would be transported asking my mind to blank and let myself drift. My point is not that meditation had a profound affect on me. Rather, 4 minutes can be enough. Turn off the car radio. Lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. Sit. 4 minutes. See what happens.

I have been traveling through the valley of the shadow of death lately and it’s not the Halloween decorations around town either. Things that once seemed concrete and known appear more like ghosts wafting in the breeze.  There is a metallic taste in my mouth, a feeling of nausea and hunger rolled into one. Demons of doubt wrestling with dreams and visions I had for my future. Jealousy, fatigue, permanence, cold seep into my brain like a leaky roof allowing the rain to drizzle down, rotting the wood and core of strength. It is an all out gory horror film, this doubting future I am fighting down. With hatchets, and swamp creatures and shrill screams coming from victims as they trip over the stick in the woods. I hate horror movies, gratuitous gore with no plot, predictable to say the least. But sometimes my life feels the same way -fill the calendar up with so many activities and places and things we end up running from place to place screaming at one another. It’s as if Jason and his hockey mask are lurking around the next corner, ready to wrestle us to the ground with a machete. Well maybe not as cliched but the pattern is predictable. Kids too tired to go, insist on going in a rushed fashion. Fight over car seats. Parent one intervenes, parent two sits”quietly” critiquing terrible parenting skills of other parent. Kids continue to act up. Parent two tries “better” tactics, equally ineffective. Parent one proclaims “you just undermined what I was saying”. Kids sense discord among the ranks, ratchet up bad behavior to next level. Arrive at destination, head in opposite directions so as to not interact with cast of horror film.

Have you ever had that? A moment in time when you realize you are not on the right track? That you are really not headed anywhere at all? Just swirling around, things moving through you. And at you. It feels ghostly, as if I am watching my life on a movie screen, unable to stop the unfolding scene. My first reaction is to quit. To get up and walk out, turn the movie off. But then what? This isn’t a movie, it’s life and it keeps going. The three little lives I am helping to build keep progressing forward and they need me, not just as a robot marching through the day. I need myself to have days that coincide more with the voice in my head.

I just read an article about the editor of Food & Wine Magazine. She says all her time is split between work and family; she does not need me time because those two areas are “me.” They are her fulfillment and joy:  sounds like success to me. I do not have my answers, let alone “the” answers but I am finding a dimly lit path. It starts with stillness and conversations with God. It has strong, wise friends who are good counsel and ask hard questions. There is sleep and hugs and warm soup. And a lot less running from scary monsters.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Another awesome awesome post. Not just the content but the style is amazing as well. love how you brought back the washing machine imagery at the end! Rock on lady!


  2. my melted then dried crayon was orange. all over one of Meredith’s favorite outfits. I never knew if it was her crayon or one i’d found and put in my pocket. it took me months to finally throw the outfit out… it was white and had purple and pink (and orange) in it so I thought maybe nobody would notice. my walkout was to the grocery store parking lot, where i sat for an hour and cried, then came back in to face the scary story, be embraced by it until the monsters calmed my soul. mr. rogers helped a lot, too.


  3. beautiful – had to come to a slamming, screeching stop about 8 years ago and it has led to a much more sane life. Hang in there, meditate and pursue quiet – you are on the right path.


  4. Posted by Charlotte Bartol on October 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Another great post…

    Keep writing whatever you do.



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