The words I’m about to write are the first I’ve written about this. Not because I am ashamed of it. Nor am I trying to hide anything. Quite simply, I’m still trying to understand it all.
I had an emotional breakdown early in the new year. I hit a wall that would have intimidated Goliath. I was wiped out, gutted; truly at the end of my emotional capital. I laid curled up in a ball, weeping uncontrollably on a hotel room floor, a tsunami of thoughts raging in my skull. My soul was in a vice, and my interior life was squeezed beyond recognition.
Quite simply, I had nothing left.
In the middle of that I received a text from a close friend and colleague. Rather cryptically (and not without humor), it said, “what the f**k is up with you? I keep getting woken up to pray for you.”
Okay God, you have my attention.
In the space of an hour, I went from despair to utter calm. The room remained dark and cheerless. My soul however felt swept somehow. Not elated. Not blissful per se. Just quiet and pensive. I was for the first time in distant memory, without anxiety. It was a state I would enjoy for about twelve days.
And, although the anxiety would return, in the window of time gifted to me I made numerous life decisions that have offered great riches ever since. What I discovered in that time was remarkable. When anxiety is removed one becomes surprising lucid, focused, confident, and decisive.
I put my ordination process on hold. Ordination is the right decision. It’s just the wrong time. I removed myself from a number of writing projects, if only for a time. I gave up my music students (shamefully, I only teach for the money anyway). I felt a desire to perform more often and to dig into gardening (the pun is easier than the gardening). I had an overwhelming desire to turn my sights toward fixing things around our home. I saw more clearly the necessity of relationships and the blessing of stability (thank you, St. Benedict).
Most importantly, it became clear to me that I must join my wife on what was originally her, not our, vacation.
By God’s grace and if the creek don’ rise, my wife and I board an aircraft for Britain on Saturday evening. It’s been twelve years since we last stood on this sacred ground. The archaeology of our lives readily reveals itself at these moments; moments ripe with joyful anticipation, with curiosity, small misgivings of varying kinds, and simple impatience.
We are grateful in such deep ways. We are aware that as we depart, we do so with people and responsibilities we leave behind. In God’s loving hands they are held. But, as everyone knows, the best thing to fix a computer is usually a simple restart. Although we go for different reasons, my requirements are 1) to flush my mental hard drive, 2) to restart my emotional computer, 3) upload fresh life experiences to enhance my spiritual monitor, and 4) set foot again on holy ground.
Ultimately, I am unsure what all of this will mean to me, to us. But, I am a man squarely in a mode of rebuilding my mental-emotional infrastructure. May God have mercy. And, may God go before us on this, our trip to bountiful.
Pix found here and my iPhone!