Breathing Contentment

Here I am breaking promises already.  I promised myself I would write twice a week.  Even if it wasn’t a masterpiece, I would put something together and just get it out there.

But I have this reflex, this habit of pulling myself in and retreating into silence after periods of particular intensity.  I have always had periods of inspiration and this crazy kind of productivity, where I can’t stop writing and making and doing.  And then, as if I am dried up and there is nothing left to pour out, I become quiet, observant, interested but highly introspective.  It’s like I am a sponge that has been wrung out and is just trying to suck up as much moisture as I can to replace it.

That’s where I’ve found myself this week.

I spent every day last week reading about gender equality in the church in Rachel Held Evans’ series on Mutuality. And I cried and I laughed and I called Sam, asking him, “Did you read this one?”  And we waved our hands and clapped them at the computer, as if it was a rescue plane that had finally found us on this deserted island. 

On Friday, I wrote my own contribution to the discussion, and as I hit publish, I felt instantly exhausted, defeated, afraid.  I felt tired from the weight of so many years of trying to make myself believe something that roiled up in my chest like emphysema, filling my lungs with bile and hate and fear.   And somehow I also felt exhausted from striking the first blow, my arm giving out after the first wave of the sword.  It’s hard pretending, and it’s hard outing yourself, too.

But Friday, even after all that, was just beginning. I had a job interview midday and a party waiting at home to be thrown that night. So, from business suit and selling myself, perched on my chair like a lamb on the altar, trying not to look as scared as I felt, I fled home to change and find the part of me who strings lights and makes spiked punch and laughs with her head thrown back.

And though I started the party feeling like a shirt turned inside out, a certain joyful, peaceful feeling took over me. I did not take a single picture of that party, a celebration of summer inspired by Nico’s desire to mark the end of his first school year. No, I did not fuss or fret or watch the evening through the lens of a camera. I just sighed at the sight of two dozen children running grooves in the grass of our backyard, ate the food we had made, kept my plastic cup full, and talked to the people who came to welcome summer with us.

That night, after the guests were gone and the children in bed, I began to feel like that sponge, all wrung out and with nothing left to give.  "Big day for you," Sam said, and I nodded, already feeling the fog of contemplation slow my tongue.  "Uh huh," I agreed.

On Sunday, my blog was shared with thousands of strangers.  I was included in the conversation about equality in faith and ministry, not just as an observer but as a part of the dialogue, as a voice to be heard in the growing movement. 

On Monday, I sat on the couch and held my baby in my lap. Yes, I know he’s not really a baby, but sometimes when he is tired he still feels like a baby, his body leaning into mine, his diaper making crumply paper sounds when he moves. That night he sat with me, and I cupped his little feet in my hands, feeling his toes flex slightly against the curve of my fingers.

We had been swimming earlier, so he still smelled of chlorine, and his hair was that after-pool soft we folks with baby fine hair get. And I was content, tired and out of words from a day of work followed by an evening of swimming. In that moment, holding him against me, smelling summer on him and knowing that his little foot could still fit in the palm of my hand, I felt as fortified against worry as a castle wall with a mile wide moat around me.

On Wednesday, I got the job. 

So, you see, it's not as if I have nothing to write about.  It's just that I don't always have the words to describe it.  I have nothing to say but “ah” and “thank you thank you” and “love” over and over like a yogi’s meditative mantra. The wordless rhythm of contentment rumbles in my chest, a cat’s purr, not spoken but breathed.

And though, yes, I am breaking promises, you'll have to forgive me just now.  I am in the land of mumbled contentment, on a reconnaissance mission to reclaim the words I have lost to my period of heightened existence.   All the while breathing thank you thank you, ah, love, love you.


  1. Congratulations! We had fun at the party despite our baby perhaps not being ready for such an event!

  2. Congrats on the new job!

  3. Congratulations on your new job!!!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts