Sometimes my soul feels weary, maybe from listening to the news or from reading too many online comments where kindness seems to have dried up, maybe from trying to absorb the horror of last week's school shooting, or maybe simply from feeling like my days are an endless rhythm of picking up toys and folding laundry.
It's February. And my soul often feels weary in February. Even though the days here are growing longer, and I can taste the hints of spring that are surely just a mere 6 weeks away, February seems to bring a cloud of lethargy.
So I do this thing when my soul feels weary. (It's not something I would recommend, by the way). Instead of picking up the toys, folding laundry, or creating something life-giving, I sit at my computer and search for houses for sale in other cities. I pick the cities intentionally--they are the cities where I think I might have a good chance of finding that perfect balance: a great house at an affordable price, set in a place of beauty and character, and closer to friends and family. I look at Google Maps to find the driving distance between our soon to be new home and all of the people we love.
This week I've scrolled through pictures from Waterloo, Ontario, Montrose, Colorado, and Asheville, North Carolina.
That one needs new siding, oh, I like that kitchen, hmmm, I think we'd need a bigger yard, that carpet would have to go, but I love how big the bedrooms are...
Before I know it, I find myself in knots over trying to make the pieces all fit together.
We could afford this house, but I don't know if we'll like the neighbourhood. This one looks great, but could we find a job there?
Now you have to realize that we aren't seriously talking about moving, so all of those details that I'm trying to figure out don't actually matter.
But what does matter is that I pay attention to why I'm looking for a new house, a new city, a new lifestyle.
We are a week into Lent, a week into a season that invites us to turn our eyes toward the cross, to the suffering of Jesus and the suffering of our world. It's a season that invites us to fast from something that is normally so much a part of our lives that we will notice its absence. It's a season that invites reflection.
This Lent, I decided to use the Exodus story to shape my prayers. (I'm in good company, as you can see here). Each week, I'm focusing on a different theme. This week my theme is Captivity.
As I have let these words weave through me this week, I've asked God to help me pay attention to captivity in my own life.
Where does my true self groan because it's not allowed to be who it's created to be?
What keeps me in captivity?
What keeps you in captivity?
As I've been praying through these ideas, trying to listen to what God might want to show me, I've recognized that in some cases, I choose to sit in a jail cell when the door has been swung wide open.
Maybe today's invitation is to step out of the cell.
A friend posted a picture of a snake she found in her driveway today. Another texted me about threats the schools in her town had received. And in these small things, I was reminded that no place is perfect. Scrolling through real estate listings when we aren't planning on moving is one more way I sit in an empty cell.
Maybe today's invitation is to look around on a snowy February day, in a messy house, and give thanks for what is, rather than begrudge what isn't.
Maybe today's invitation is to stop sitting in my cell, wishing my friends lived closer, the weather was warmer, and the world was safer.
Maybe the invitation is to step fully into the life I've been given: to hug my babies, make homemade noodles for supper and drizzle them with brown butter sauce, drink big cups of coffee, pull the sled through the neighbourhood's snowy sidewalks, call a friend I haven't spoken to in months, admire the stark beauty of the frozen river.