The outside world is rotting.
Leaves choke the gutters, and the curb inlets cough up rainwater like mucus.
The smile on the Halloween pumpkin sags like he’s ninety-two and resigned to his inevitable decay.
My nostrils seethe every time I walk out the door, conjuring memories of the backyard compost pile, the city streets of Beijing, the kitchen of a childhood friend’s home…
I would not detest winter’s unfeeling assault against autumn if my own soul did not feel like it were rotting.
It must have just been this past week–days that threaded together less like a seam and more like barbed wire, or perhaps like an electrical fence, except that is was caffeine jolting me from day 1 to day 7, although my weeks feel as if they have 8 or 9 days.
I can’t even remember what I did.
Chances are, living in America, the answer you will get when you ask someone how they are is, “Busy.” (I think every time I’m about to answer “Busy,” I will insert “Rotting,” instead.)
It was maybe day 3 or 4, at the coffee shop, between washing dishes and serving sandwiches, I was thinking about all the things I had to do when God interjected unsolicited–I can’t move when you’re so busy.
I knew he meant move in me. I don’t attend to the things of my heart–the sitting-at-Jesus’-feet things–when I am taking on the things of the outside world.
Which is how I ended up here, at 7:00 on a Sunday night. See, I spent the afternoon looking everywhere for the rest I desperately craved. I napped, surfed Facebook. I planned to be still and just let him speak. Instead I edited lyrics, played music. Drank a few sips of hot cocoa and poured it down the sink.
Read old journal entries. Fed the dog. I poured a second glass of wine and went through a mental checklist of what I could do, hoping one of them would stir inside as remotely appealing:
watch the CW
go to the gym
have dinner with my family
go to a party that started fifteen minutes ago
take a relaxing bath
I had already tried all of them that week, and each sounded worse than the last. I felt restless. Afraid that this would go on for another week. Afraid that if I laid down on my back in the middle of the carpet and did absolutely nothing, he would not speak.
I poured the wine back into the bottle and got ready for bed, though sleep would not answer my heart’s cry, either.
How do I manage to sabotage myself so quickly? Why is it so difficult to give up my comfortable cushions and trust that he is Comfort? Why do I return to what the outside world offers when it always, always rots.
Why am I writing this, instead of lying awake in the dark waiting for him to move? Tomorrow I will be annoyed with how few people have read it, how dissatisfied my soul still is for having put words to it, and how the uncertainty of his movement remains.
Because his movement is the only thing that can rescue me, and it is only when I cease this scraping for life that he will begin to move. Only when I lie down in the middle of the carpet and smell the fact that I am rotting.
Perhaps more cyclical than my backsliding into busyness, my swerving into sin, my lapses into laziness, is his kindness.
Always, always it is his love only that makes life sprout from rotting earth.
And there is no fear in him that I won’t choose his love.