I am struggling with this, dear friends. In my recent Woolgatherings, I posted about slumps. It seems I am not only in a writing slump but a life slump as well. What to do when your outward life is so far beyond what your soul life is or needs?
I confess I have been neglecting the Manor. Not physically but spiritually. The dishes are washed and the laundry is done. The cat is fed. The bed is (sometimes) made. No, it's more of an aesthetic neglect. A life style neglect. Perhaps it's just a stage. Life really does happen in many stages. From one to the next, first joyful, next bleak, then the dawn cometh once more. I feel as though I am in the Depths of Despair. Imagine that said dramatically, Anne of Green Gables style, one arm thrown over my eyes as I fall onto the sofa with a loud, long sigh.
In creeps the voice of wisdom. It's Marilla's voice: "To despair is to turn your back on God". Have I turned my back on God? I don't think so. I'm searching the scriptures for any semblance of comfort, of message, of spiritual awakening.
No, not a back turning. A life stopping. Not intentional but real, nevertheless. How does it happen? I wish I knew. One minute you're cruising along, busy as a bee, singing like a swallow when *wham*, there's a wall. And what a silly place for a wall. I was doing just fine, moving forward. Forward.
Stuck, drifting backwards now, wondering where the paddles went. Wondering where time and energy and dreams got out and you were left alone in the canoe with a few bread crumbs and a canteen of chlorinated water. All along the river you see people picnicking, enjoying the sun, their cold meats and red wines. A few people drift past you, yearning for the shore. Some even paddle over and join them. So why don't I? No oars? No problem! I'll just use my hands, my arms, my legs...what's this?
A canoe, as battered as mine, if not more, moves slowly past me. Not down stream, as I go, but up. Up stream? I watch, amazed at the concentration on his face. His hands are bleeding, there are tear stains down his face. A face smeared with dirt and the remnants of sleep long forgotten.
"Where are you going?" I call out as he pokes on by.
"Up there," he gestures, not taking his eye off his destination.
"Where? There's nothing up there but more water, more vines, more tangles of sea weed.
Someone just yesterday floated by and said they were nearly capsized by an armada of hippos."
He nods, sagely, exhausted. But still he paddles on.
"Aren't you afraid?"
"What if there's nothing there?"
"I must see for myself."
"What are you hoping to find?"
He looks at me now, then at the people frolicking on shore, "Something more."
I watch him as he trudges onward. I bump suddenly against something and realize it's a log. One end of it rests on the sandy shore. a few turtles are sunning themselves on it. Debris have collected against it and the sand. Bottles, plastic bags, a beer can or three. And an oar. It's old and covered in slime and there is only one. But it's an oar.
I could climb out and cross over the log. I could. I can smell the barbecue now. I sit on the log, one hand holding the canoe, one shading my eyes from the harsh sun. My eyes dart to the oar. A few children run by, laughing. Lovers stroll by their fingers entwined, he whispering, she blushing with delight. The air smells of apple blossoms and lavender. I look up stream. The man is no where to be found. He has paddled beyond the bend. I have a choice to make.
My fingers find the oar and grasps it tightly. It's been a long time since I've paddled. I'm afraid I've forgotten how. One stroke, then another. Then another, and another. Pretty soon, I'm moving. Slowly, yes, but moving. Up stream. I pass the shores and others watch. Some wave, some shrug, some beckon. Others roll their eyes and mumble. One old man made a face! I roll up my sleeves and stare ahead. What's around the bend? My thumb grazes the oar handle, something raised on the end. Curious I look down. Stamped in faded gold are three small words.
Never Give Up
What's around the bend, I wonder?
Do you have a "more"? Would it just be easier to get out of the boat? Are you surrounded by those who don't understand?