We woke up to a wall of fog this morning. Gloriously. Like Northern California has blown down her mystery and romance. And . . . to be honest . . . the lingering fog puts a smug smile on my face because it is such a mirror of my internal world these past few days. Feels like irony.
Henri Nouwen quotes Antonio Porchia in the Introduction of The Wounded Healer: “A door opens to me. I go in and am faced with a hundred closed doors.” This is what I feel up against. Real or perceived, this is what I feel. And what follows is fog, angst, paralysis. Can you relate?
I decide to take my office outside this morning, to the back patio, which I reference more than a few times in Brazen, and which is always — and I mean always — a source of soul oxygen to me. I ask God for a breadcrumb.
Beth-with-Dreads prays the Lord’s Prayer this way: She says, “Give us this day our daily breadcrumbs,” and I think this really is IT. We pick up the next breadcrumb. And the next. And we trust the crumbs are actually taking us somewhere, a path to something that matters in the scheme of the universe. The breadcrumbs wind us around and through and keep our eyes present instead of out across a looming horizon.
I want a strategic plan. God whispers in my ear, what if you let go of your strategic plan and offer a sacred prayer instead. Like, “help.” Or, “here.”
Here, God, is my uncertainty and self-doubt and God-doubt. Here, God, is my fear and my need for control. Here is my hope and my most profound dream. Here. Take it and show me the next breadcrumb.
Here’s what arrives: The only thing that matters right now is how you walk with yourself through right now.
That’s this moment’s breadcrumb.
Don’t you just want to roll your eyes. That can’t possibly be the answer. Deep down, I know this is really all that matters. I have said it a million times: There are so few things we can control. Almost nothing. One thing we can control is how we treat ourselves and that one thing can change everything.
I was reading toward the end of Ecclesiastes 9 where Solomon writes, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you’ll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you’re not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won’t get to the bottom of it” (The Message).
This tells me I will not analyze, figure, plan, or scheme my way into space and breath and grace. I will “here” myself there. I will keep handing the heavy back over to him and I will ask him for the breadcrumb, which is light and straightforward and uncomplicated in its ease.
As I sit here, I am struck with a profound realization: No door is actually closed to me. None at all. Did you know that? I perceive doors to be slamming shut, but it’s just the work of the Soul Bullies. Nouwen goes on to say, “But I wanted at least to prevent the temptation of not entering any doors at all out of fear of the closed ones.” The Bully’s entire agenda is to keep us from entering any door at all out of fear, a sense of being doomed, an inevitability of failure or disappointment.
So the antidote, I guess, is to keep following the breadcrumbs into the fog, through the fog, to “here” ourselves there (“here, God, take what’s in my hands”), and to do all this with the gentleness we would offer a child hiding in her closet. Because SO many voices have told us to be afraid, to stop, to stay put, to quiet down, to quit with all this nonsense. And we need to help ourselves heal from the trauma that’s been done to our souls. We need to help ourselves heal from the continual self-doubt. We need to learn what it feels like to sit with our very scared selves in the closet and say, “You’re OK. You can trust yourself. Do you see a breadcrumb? I’m with you.”
Since I sat down out here, since I followed the breadcrumbs to the back patio and began writing (which, like the patio, is always a source), the fog has burned off considerably. A sweet breeze has replaced the stillness. It’s still so deliciously cool, but a bit more light has arrived.
All my love,