new sabbath: 06.27.21. re-opening.
my hope is that as we emerge, we do so with grace, tenderness, and patience with ourselves and with this process.
happy Sunday, friends. i hope you’ve had a great day.
today, i got up, went to work out, and came home to wash dishes. i made some fresh watermelon juice and took it to brunch with my family. this week, i took off from work after i felt myself hit a wall of exhaustion and burnout. honestly, i don’t think a week has been enough. i’m not feeling refreshed heading getting back to work tomorrow. the new semester is looming, and quite frankly, i’m not ready.
an announcement went out that we will be returning to campus in the fall. a year ago, i wondered what it would feel like to get this news. i wondered what it would be like to live through a global pandemic. i wondered how long it would take to “go back to normal.” a year ago, i loathed those long days in my house, mostly by myself. i felt sad at the engagements and commitments that were on my calendar, all of which had fallen off, one by one. i couldn’t wait to get through that period, as the uncertainty was a lot for my Capricorn soul to live through. i could not have imagined that it would have been almost a full year-and-a-half of slow days and long months.
admittedly, it took me some time to see the possibilities in being forced to stop everything. at the beginning, i didn’t know how to take the news, how to deal with all of the death and all of the misinformation that was flying around about Covid-19. as a life-long asthmatic, i was terrified to do basic things, such as going to the grocery store and walking my dog in the park. those first weeks of quarantine were quite a blur. about six weeks in, i learned that i had to walk the thin line of being “informed, but not intoxicated” by the news. i had to create a system of getting my updates and then moving on with my day, as purposefully as possible. at the time, i didn’t realize that i was developing an important life skill. i was learning, and actively practicing, how to compartmentalize hard and necessary information, without allowing it to immobilize my faith or my movement. to be sure, i had days where i couldn’t do much but lay in bed. the conflation of the pandemic, the political mayhem, the antiblack state-sanctioned violence, and the particularities of my personal struggles often made it hard to function. but, on most days, i still had a job to do. i still have family to show up for, even from afar. and, most importantly, there was some critical inner work that was calling my name.
one of the biggest challenges of this experience was that i’d never really been still. for most of my life, i was always thinking ahead to the next thing and actively moving towards it. i didn’t have rhythms of reflection or practices of pausing. i didn’t have a deep inner life. i was used to being in the forefront, having a sizable social circle, and always being “on” in some sense. there was nothing wrong with this; it was simply the state of my life, and i loved it.
and yet, there were some norms to which i have no desire or intention to return. this week, one of my favorites, Prentis Hemphill, shared a post about not being so quick to jump back into things as we knew them. Prentis invited their followers to “transition consciously” as we venture back into the world. here’s what i’m thinking:
i don’t want to be so busy.
i now realize that as i was fighting the stillness, i was really detoxifying from it. somewhere along the way, i found such solace and peace in knowing that i would be home on the weekends. that i could plan time with my partner and my family. that i could start taking naps in the middle of the day. that i could begin to think of time as being abundant, rather than “never having enough” of it. i needed a slower pace, in order to truly enjoy my moments and savor my life. a slower pace enables us to appreciate the breeze, to listen to the rain, to read books for pleasure, and to take up hobbies. today, i am so in love with these dreamy moments of doing nothing, of luxuriating in the sunshine from my porch, of making a ritual of brewing coffee. i don’t want to go back to being so busy, rushed and stressed. i don’t see the glamour in it, and if there’s any glamour to be found therein, i don’t even want it. i deeply desire the everyday beauty of stillness.
slowness begets sweetness, friends. it begets softness. vulnerability. self-awareness. staying in this beautiful place will require that i claim my “no” and assert boundaries whenever necessary. i wish all of this for all of us.
i want to reconfigure my relationship to work.
this is a big one. there was a time in my life when work was king. if it wasn’t work for my job, it was work for my personal ministry. in some cases, it was work that i created where there was no work, because somewhere in my heart, i equated my worth with my work. my downtime, my leisure, my pleasure, and even my relationships were marginal to work. don’t get me wrong; i love my work. i know that it is meaningful, and that i’m called to it. but, it’s not the only thing i’m called to. work is not the only thing that any of us are called to. we are also called to balance. we are called to wellness. we are called to laughter. we are called to goodness. we are called to family, birth and chosen. we are called to friendship, life partnership and other forms of togetherness. we are called to rest. we are called to wonder. all of these are divine, holy, sacred, and inherently good. we need them, just as much, if not more, than meaningful work. these, too, make the world go ‘round.
i don’t want to be so preoccupied with what other people think of me.
one of the greatest benefits of this season has been the opportunity to go “behind the veil.” away from the eye of the public, which is often quick to interpret, assess, categorize, and opine. even in the world of ministry, people often have not-so-kind things to say, and critics are often louder than supporters. i’ve gotten used to limiting my exposure to too many critical voices, but i’m still working on not being emotionally effected by them. i’m a sensitive woman. i have a soft core. and as much i know that criticism is a part of doing public work, i have a hard time accepting it. i never want to normalize how mean and judgmental some people can be, especially “church people.” one of the great paradoxes of vocations in and around the church is that maintaining a heart-guard and a face of flint are important professional skills. my inner work in this regard, is to find creative ways to detach from negative and critical voices, and, to some extent, from the satisfaction of public approval, and to hone in on the inner voice that bids me to continue to be a messenger of Good News.
i think so, at least. i’m still sitting with this.
i always want a creative and passionate outlet.
coffee has become my creative and passionate outlet. learning coffee has been a way to learn what it means to be a student again. this subtle thing can happen when we become educated: we think that we are now “experts.” and while this may be true in our areas of research, it’s not true about all things, and it’s certainly not true about life. in fact, the more i learn, the more i realize just how much i don’t know. this is what having a creative outlet does: it frees you up to learn, to play, and to be a novice. it helps you to access the more emotive, empathic, and vulnerable parts of your brain and heart. they become outlets of expression. for me, coffee has become a new love language. i enjoy manually brewing for myself, my partner, my friends, and my family, as a symbol of love. we deserve the love and luxury of a beautiful cup of coffee. even though i’m no professional brewer, what i do know, what i do have, i give to them.
i want to feel and express gratitude.
one of the ways that i’ve started to fight anxiety is by cultivating a gratitude practice. on especially stressful days, i like to pause and make a short list of things that i’m grateful for. this helps me to see that all is certainly not lost. it helps me to develop the ability to find light and goodness, even in the course of hardship. i subscribed to Alex Elle’s Daily Gratitude e-mails, as a way to promote my own practice and bear witness to another Black woman’s determination to see how grace unfolds everyday. Alex Elle’s daily gratitude e-mails only went out for the month of June, but here are some resources to read and learn from her on the subject of gratitude.
what i could’ve never anticipated was that this experience of being forced to pause has, in fact, ushered me into a brand new season of life. a time of blooming into my power, my purpose, my highest self. a season of shedding and preparation. a season that i want to continue to dive deeply into, and give myself over to. surrender to. one of my biggest anxieties about “reopening” is really just how easy it is to slip back into old patterns. the old and the new are always happening at once. old things are passing away as new seasons are emerging. i just want to keep walking in this new direction.
maybe these are my humble attempts to make meaning of what we’ve lived through over this year. maybe this is my heartfelt attempt to wrap my mind and my heart around the idea of getting back into a workplace. maybe this is me setting my intentions for this next phase. maybe.
i am certain, however, that my hope is that this season will not have been in vain a year from now. my hope is that as we emerge, we do so with grace, tenderness, and patience with ourselves and with this process. this re-emergence is yet another change that will be jarring. another change that we must move through. another change that we must make. and, as hard as it might be, change is a fact of life. in fact, our great ancestor Octavia Butler would say that “God Is Change."
what about you? if you have any anxiety about this time of re-opening, and you would like me to add your name to prayer list, let me know. how are you “transitioning consciously?” are there any desires, habits or hobbies that may have been born in quarantine, but that you would like to continue nurturing?
i appreciate you all. thank you for taking the time to bloom with me. i hope to hear from you soon, and that you are well in body, soul and mind.
i pray that your week is glorious.