This afternoon I sat in a quiet house on Forest Avenue, sipping tea while the little girl I nanny slept. A few minutes later, I spoke on the phone with a woman who offered me a position as an assistant teacher for a few hours a week at her theater company. This is my life right now--moment by moment, moving from silence and quiet to decision.
I graduated from my MA program just before Christmas, and through the insanely busy months leading up to it, I was wrapped in the gift of peace. I ran from class to rehearsal to work to job application, and as the craziness coincided with the season of Advent, I found myself resting in peace, knowing that though I had no clear idea of what my life would be like after Christmas, I could trust that it would be good. Somehow it was all wrapped up into one--the season of recognition reminding me to remember that Christ was born into a world of chaos, and if his presence could heal the nations, it certainly also meant that my responsibility should simply be to trust.
I am continuing to discover new sides of grace every day. The smallest steps of grace are the most difficult, and the most beautiful. It is patient work, not asking for more than I am given right now. A few weeks out of my program, my needs are met, and my future is piecing together. I am interviewing and applying, and the period of waiting is not over and done. I continue to rest in peace, but the struggle now is not that I have too much to do and too little time to accomplish it, but that I have so much time.
I know everyone must deal with this differently, but time has always been difficult for me. The periods in my life that have been the most difficult are those in which I have an abundance of time, because I thrive on work. The more introspective I am, the more I begin to doubt myself. I like to have time for myself, but I also like to feel that things are expected of me, and people depend on me. I want to know that I am needed.
Right now, I am full of time. Right now, the pace of my life has drastically shifted from the break-neck speed of pre-Christmas to a soft, gentle plod of cold winter days and shivering toes. I wake in the morning to a luxurious amount of time in which to drink my morning coffee, and I come home each night to long evenings of whatever my heart desires. Instead of telling my friends that I only have one or two nights on which I could possibly hang out, I tell them to pick a night--any night. My life is more open than maybe it has ever been.
I know this will only be true for a short period of time. Already the difficult work of decision-making has started--if I say yes to one job, I am automatically saying no to a thousand others. So rather than panicking because I don't have the perfect job yet, or stressing over trying to figure out how to piece together a viable teaching artist schedule, or allowing myself to grow inward and downward, I have been learning to see this time as a great gift. It is a gift that allows me to spend hours writing, and allows me to get to know my roommates better. It allows me to bend to my friends' schedules, to clean my apartment, to read underneath a pile of blankets. It allows me to be quiet, all the way to my soul, and to let God's grace grow in my heart.
Peace doesn't come naturally to me. I want to know the future, and control my plans. I want to finally be able to say "THIS is what I do, and THIS is where I will be." But that is not what is mine, right now. What is mine is this: slowness, and patience, and an open heart. These things are enough, now and always. These things are teaching me life.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Eugene H. Peterson
The Devil in the White City
Peter A. Pitzele