journeying away, journeying toward

What you are observing about yourself in this actual season of your life + COVID impacted-season?
At this “moment,” what sense of fatigue/disillusionment/entanglement/anger/fear/etc would you like to journey away from, and what renewing blessing would you like to move toward?

Dr. Bobbi Kaye Jones, Pastor As Pilgrim syllabus

Observing about myself?

I would say I haven’t been observing myself, but that seems untrue. I generally live in a self-reflective, often evaluative, flow. Why would this time be different? I’ve recently had a lot of activities to wade through, though, so I suppose it’s that I haven’t been letting my observations pool.

**

I’ve been reflecting on how my (current/pandemic) life feels similar to a twenty-year-old pair of blue jeans — known, mostly comfortable, threadbare in spots but I can tell myself that’s all to the good because it makes them unique. Mmmm, a life — my life — is already unique, so perhaps I should say “gives it character.”
To which my Granny always shot back, “Don’t you think I’m enough of a character already?”

Today I realized-observed I’ve thoroughly lost track of moving my body. In skimming the records my wrist-based tracker keeps, it seems that around once a week I accumulate over 5000 steps (so perhaps 2 miles). Maybe this lines up with leaving home for an errand of some sort? Not enough to sustain a well-running body, anyway.
Interestingly enough, this week I’ve been thinking wistfully about walking after dinner… while the to-do anxiety pushes me back to my desk for One More Thing. (This desktime has been helpful. It seems as if it will be finite, too… the ripples of my Oh You’re Kidding Me, Really? stretch of 22nd-29th September. We’ll see.)

I observe that all the components of my life — and I prefer my life to have multiple components — were fitting together snugly until I added the two additional medical tests in the mix. (I’m fine. An appropriate abundance of caution.) This, in fact, is a usual thing in my life… the pace I prefer doesn’t include much cushion. I often have an early October overwhelm.
The riposte, which My Sweetie makes on the reg, is: well, leave a little more cushion! I haven’t figured out a way to do that successfully. My other mode — which I had in its most intense form this summer — is that I turn the cushion into some kind of bean-bag chair with gravitational pull, and I manage far less in ways that leave me feeling gross. Or, sometimes, a hair’s-breadth from depression… they can look a lot the same.

And yet.

What I notice the most is how irritated I am with God, and how worried I am about what I’ll be doing after next May. Hm. Thea taught me to use stripped-down language when I was flailing, so: Mad. Afraid.

It’s no longer okay for me to wave a vague hand and say “PhD work somewhere.” To be studying next fall means to apply by this December. And while I did some work over the summer to try to narrow my scope of schools, it’s far from conclusive. It’s not as if anyone puts “theopoetics” on their webpage. Also, if I don’t go to school somewhere, then what? This summer’s doldrums… but this time with no known end-date? That’s scary.

Hey, God? I am trying to be faithful as Jeremiah was faithful. To do the work you set before me as best I can until you give me something else. I don’t like to think of you behaving like one of those ancient gods, making up tests full of spiky gotchas for your adherents… .
It doesn’t seem as if I misunderstood you about this PhD-in-theopoetics arc. But on the other hand, we all thought that professional Girl Scout job would be a dream come true… ::sad trombone:: …and you seemed to know differently.

If you know, what am I doing wrong that I don’t know?!

**

In a week, it’ll be our Fall Break, and I’ll be ‘going on’ my pilgrimage-in-place.

What I’d like to be journeying toward is Knowing Where To Send My Applications. I would feel blessed to have this anxiety eased, particularly since the anxiety gets tighter and tighter the closer I get to December.

If that knowledge arrived as a bolt from the blue, that’d be cool. I’m concerned, though, that the other ways I know to approach this are all… well… very research-y, project-y, schoolish things. Not classic retreat fare. Nor, frankly, things I would be able to do at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert had we still been able to go.

Too, over time I have become deeply suspicious of retreats (or pilgrimages!) with Transcendent Goals pinned to them at the outset. One of our cultural diseases, one of my fallen tendencies, is to drive toward outcomes and results — as if all life were a set of transactions, with God here playing the part of the vending machine, or the Magic Claw.

But I don’t know how to just-be differently. Waiting while I breathe through the anxiety — the way I once breathed through delivery-labor’s transition — is what I already practice.

I feel as if pilgrimage wants to be a time of difference, of other-than. I am trying to bring that to my outer behaviors for those days….

I suppose my inner will simply follow along.

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