Next to my bed lay a stack of books, my phone (I haven’t yet adopted the good habit of “putting it to bed” outside of our room like my husband), water bottle, candle, and some clutter.
This morning, I awake with a dull resistance to going to my phone — even for the Lent devotional sitting in my inbox or for the Bible reading plan at which I slowly chip away. Perhaps it’s because last night I stayed up too late indulging in reading some articles detailing the newest infection rates and death tolls, leading to a double shot of fear mixed with guilt for gathering earlier in the evening with 20 or so people outside for a balcony concert of classical piano. That wasn’t the best thing to ingest before drifting off to sleep.
That fear/guilt hangover, however, did serve to wake me with a distaste for most uses of my phone (especially the ones I’ve binged upon this week), like the 21 year old who wakes with a headache so splitting he swears he’ll never touch alcohol again.
Instead, I reach for a book I haven’t cracked open yet, but for which I have high hopes — I decide to see if it will draw me in immediately, as I hope. A book I’d heard high praise about from writers and creatives I respect, I’d ordered it from abebooks a couple of weeks ago: Madeline L’Engle’s Walking On Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. It seemed like a book with a promise that I’d want to keep on my shelf and return to for inspiration, and now that this quarantine business has altered our lives to make almost everything go digital, I’m especially thankful for a paper copy I can hold in my hands. Turn a page rather than swipe. Take a pencil and underline imperfectly rather than hold to highlight on a Kindle.
To my great delight, I am immediately drawn in — her storytelling is honest and witty and a pleasure to read.
Thank you, God, for a book that makes me feel alive – awake to my soul in my body, my body in this world and an awareness that it’s also in an eternal reality. Already this week, I’ve been so tempted to escape — to entertain and tune out and not just sit in the present moment. To feel and to think. To be. Wouldn’t you know it, she opens with a story of being reminded to be.
“When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening.” – Madeline L’Engle.
Listen today, Laura. To the beating of your heart and notice when it quickens. Listen to the way your children laugh together and notice the way your heart swells. To the swaying of the palm trees and the way it nourishes and calms you. Listen to the way getting on Facebook makes you feel, and choose to pick up a lovely book instead, or to read a lovely book to your children, or to turn Andrew Bird’s ethereal music on the big speakers and listen close enough to let it invoke thoughts of life and re-creation and hope.
I set the book down, pick up my mug for a last swig of coffee, unfortunately a bit cold, and finally pick up my phone. Only now, it’s with an eagerness to open the Google Doc I’ve been writing in and record these thoughts on being, listening and choosing life during a pandemic.