I've long turned to writing as an escape from life.
The guilt of that came on slowly, but it's inescapable now. As my secret's been revealed more and more, the words I've kept inside, reserved for myself, where I believed I'd be safe from those who would judge me for not going out and saving souls like my dad, or loving people more like my mom who was always doing things for people. And I could not even do one thing for anyone, afraid to connect with my neighbors and their needs that would keep me from the little time I had to write and be truly alone with my thoughts.
And all along, I've believed I was wrong. Why couldn't I be more like them, more in love with people?
Am I digging my own grave here, deepening my intollerance to overstimulation? Aren't I only weakening my resilience and strengthening my hypersensitivity? Why do I carry this preference for isolation? And more important, how do I escape it?
The day begins early. Same as always. Feet find floor and check the weather around the flannel-lined island while searching for slippers. Some days she's there, some days not.
But in winter, we always rise to the dark.
The winter of my heart slowly thawed in the consistency of her love. Yet do I need to ask who it was who gave me all of this on which my feet find balance, and every day become more certain and confident?
I know the solid ground on which I am upheld.
I find my books on the small desk. Their well-worn pages wait for someone new to read and value them, to take them in and make them their own. And I'm that man, that someone new each time I read.
I go to the coffee pot to wait and stretch. A bird has left some astonishing art on the skylight. It fans out in a jagged multicolored circle. I reach and realize the distance to my toes is slowly diminishing as I give myself to the strain in my back and legs. The tension lengthens out and gives me that beautiful lightness as I roll back up. So simple. So inescapable.
I look up through the window to the ever lightening day through the reaching trees and I remember it has always been that the world will pass by my windows and I'll stand here catching none of it, all of it escaping through my untrained and semiconscious senses. This is the ordinary ground upon which my island of ignorance rests.
But if I let that reality spoil everything, then I'm the fool.
"The multitude of thoughts that crowd in on us spoil everything…so we must be careful to reject them as soon as we become aware that they are not essential to our present duties." –Brother Lawrence
I take my mug and I go to my spot and sit, fighting even now to escape the insufferable strain against the encroaching thoughts. I open the books and find my place. I read the words waiting, the ones put there for me and no one else to discover. And I am right here and right now and always right where I'm meant to be.
I may not ever help anyone but myself with this, but is anything ever spoiled when we're escaping to listen to his voice in everything? And why shouldn't writing be my escape from one life so I might escape into another? Isn't everything we do held in this tension of imminent escape, from one thing and into another, always and forever in the ever-lengthening love of He Who Holds sure and vast, by whom all is being stretched tight in his grip?
He is our escape into fuller life. And all in his time is made to truly live.
Again and again and again.
Reading slowly, I watch the words rise up and I feel my breath escape. It curls invisibly on the page in whorls, paisleying the cold symbols with tiny fractals of multicolored wind and lifting them into the air to be caught and carried off. Heaven knows where.
And even this is not my own to claim but the very life within me that gives me the breath and calls me to breathe myself alive.