I have a confession. It is difficult for me to write—to find and share thoughtful, appropriate and hopeful words—when I am hurried, harried, and stressed. As a writer, these are especially hard times for me because writing is a source of joy and a way of orienting myself in my gifts and graces.
I have another confession. I have been hurried, harried, and stressed recently which explains my lack of writing—in my journal, on an article I had due for Urban Faith, and here on the blog. You wouldn’t believe the roller coaster that life has been lately.
The first full week of November we traipsed around Orlando as a family. Between the Orlando Magic game and Magic Kingdom, it was...magical. The second full week of November began with me preaching and continued as I played catch-up from the first week, unpacking and resettling myself at home and at work. If you can imagine a roller coaster, those two weeks were the initial fun loop and climb as the car makes it way to a big drop. Except in my case, the climb was subtle and I didn’t feel the drop coming.
But it came.
Two Fridays ago, after sort of reorienting myself at home and work, I attended the How Shall They Hear Preaching Conference. This gathering of preachers, where head, heart, spirit, mechanics, and anointing meet, always blesses and stretches me for the work of ministry. During one of the breakout sessions, I received a call that my mother was in the Intensive Care Unit after having an angioedema. My lip quivered. Tears welled in my eyes. I did everything I could to hold them in, but I was unsuccessful. At that point, time seemed to move both lightening fast and at a snails pace. I called my sister then called my husband, “I need you to come get me. Mom is in ICU.” I returned to the session, sat next to my sister preacher friend and scribbled a note: My mom is in ICU. Pray, please. She did.
A few hours later I was standing at mom’s bedside in NY. She had been intubated and sedated. God had given me peace. I knew she’d be alright, but we had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I also knew I couldn’t leave her until she was discharged—for her sake and for my own. So, I set up a temporary dwelling in ICU. I prayed. I called all the nurses and aides by name. I learned what it might feel like for the families I encounter in my work as a hospice chaplain. Four nights later, mom was released to a regular room (and later discharged on Thanksgiving day) and I drove home to NJ. I crashed. The emotional exhaustion I felt was like never before.
Fast forward: I get us ready for Thanksgiving with help from my cousin and best friend. It was simple, but having mom home made it so gratifying. I returned to work on Friday because despite my exhaustion, guilt is real. The weekend was slow, but not slow enough for me to recharge. Monday brought with it all that Monday brings as a working wife and mother of two active girls. As did Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Add to this, my mother’s health scare quickened me to return to my good health practices including working out which I did three times this week (yay me!). Also add a mini mid-life crisis that snuck up on me, no doubt brought on by the events my mom faced. By the time Thursday evening came around my exhaustion was exhausted.
So this morning, I did what I knew I needed to do. I dropped the girls at school and drove straight to the spa.
I am blessed that there is an amazing Korean Spa less than 10 minutes from my house. I arrived at 9:30am. I had a full body massage followed by reflexology. I sat in a hot herbal bath. I ate bibimbop. Then I curled up on a reclining chair and fell asleep listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama. And when I awoke, I felt good. Great, even. I slept a bit more before going into the charcoal and clay saunas. And now I’m back in the reclining chair.
And words have returned. Free flowing words from heart to head to clicking fingers. Words to chronicle and make sense of what’s been going on our lives. Words to remind you, and myself, that God is a Healer and an Ever Present Help in trouble. Words to encourage you, and myself, that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Words to implore you, and myself, to take good care of yourself body, mind, and spirit. With a clear heart, decluttered mind, and rested body, words have returned.
And prayerfully, they’ll be here for a while...