It is 6:13 in the morning, pitch dark outside and rain is pouring in a steady stream, a good solid rain that started last night before bed. I have a cup of black tea with milk on the table next to my computer and I can see the steam rising from it. Rachael’s dog, Hazel, is gnawing on a dog toy on the floor near me and I can see the pendulum swinging on the Grandfather clock across the room. The clock reads 6:15, the chimes are now announcing the quarter hour.
I got up early because I can’t sleep. I have thoughts swirling around in my head that won’t stop. I am in worry mode, running through all the tasks that I haven’t done in my new role as president of a women’s writing non-profit, flipping to my non-writing status and subsequent loss of my voice, clicking through household duties that need to be done, lamenting what I am not getting done and yet knowing that I do my best and life, on the whole, is stable, despite the current political unrest and global pandemic. “Dear Lord, guide me as you would have me go,” I pray, the prayer I say many times over a day, trying to do my best in a world that feels upside down.
I am breathing deeper now just seeing those words on the screen. I need a way to sort out this jumble of thoughts that swirl, many of which are tiny little details that need to be done but are not up to the level of this kind of concern. I will order the flea medicine online for our pets, I will pay those bills, I will contact the sprayer for our orange trees to meet the state requirement so we can sell our Valencias next summer. I will do the behind the scenes prep for a Story Circle Network webinar I am coordinating, get clothes and food ready to go up to the orange grove this afternoon, pack eBay boxes for our antique business, and work with a student on her college essay who is facing deadlines. And most of what I don’t get done today, can wait until tomorrow. As an older Mexican man who used to work for us often said, “Work is always there.”
I know I am not alone with my nagging thoughts, back-of-my-mind dread and feelings of overwhelm. I know it from the people I live with – how they circle through these same feelings I have – and I know from reading it online and hearing it on television and seeing it outside my window as people in masks trudge up and down my busy street, trying to add a bit of outdoor activity to their lives. I also know that there are many, many people in this world who are not sitting in a warm house with a hot cup of tea listening to the rain and clock chimes. They are hungry, homeless or close to it, afraid, dispirited, grieving, in pain, sick and suffering. A whole world of people who struggle daily just to make it through, feeling lost and alone. I know that my tiny worries are minuscule in comparison. I never want to forget how fortunate I am in a world where so many are in such need.
And then there is the rain, nourishing and needed, that will wash away the dust and grim, give a long and good drink of water to plants and clear the air from the haze that hovers. A gift from above that will refresh and renew and remind me that life is bigger than the electric bill or a mean-spirited politician or even Covid-19.
And, yes, I can breathe much easier now just remembering that truth.