Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Non-Anxious Presence

This is one of those weeks that, in my 20s, I would have assumed was the absolute end of the world. Armageddon, and the end of days for sure. In my 30s, I would have panicked and believed heart and soul that things could just never be the same and that all good and sun and hope was gone from the planet. I this like being 41 thing. At 40 you can start to see the mudslides and avalanches of crazy things happening all over your life's landscape and think, "oh, there goes the mud again, guess we'll be digging out."

Not that it's not hard, and not that having chaos and hostility and insane numbers of things that are on the "triage" list isn't something I'd rather avoid. Of course I'd like time to relax and play music and think and read. But I know now, this will pass, things will settle down. My children probably will turn out to be good men and not serial killers, probably anyway. And eventually the perpetual stack of things "to-be-organized" will, you know, get organized. Or it will get dumped in a box and shoved in the garage anyway. My husband will not always work 1,500 miles and three time zones away from home. Things will be better. I know they will.

I'm stealing a phrase I've picked up from my friends and colleagues and my friend-colleagues who have been lucky enough to go to seminary to name this awareness. "Non-Anxious Presence." I think we can all steal it. I know it's really a kind of mindfulness, holding the spark of the holy in your mind and in your soul but more importantly in your gut and on the tips of your fingers. And while they talk about holding a non-anxious presence in a congregation during a tough meeting or in a hospital room when things are scary, I'm holding this for myself. MY scattery-scared-simpering-self. Because if I can't hold this for myself, how can I hold it for parents of a new born, or a 14-year-old emerging into adulthood, or for church leaders wrestling with a gangly budget? I may not have time for good, solid self care, but this? This I can do.

My hero "HAPPY Cindy Changes the World" said this all in a way that makes sense to me this morning, bless her hard-workin'-soul. This is important work, and what sometimes feels like the "busy-work" of the job isn't. It isn't at all. It's absolutely as important to sweep and mop and organize shelves of Spirit Play stories as it is to offer a sympathetic ear to a family in crisis. It is as important to say no as it is to say yes, sometimes anyway. It is good, good work that does make a difference. And flaking out is simply not an option. So, I'm sitting with myself while I work today, being a non-anxious presence. Keeping it in perspective.

This-- this whole deal. This whole crazy wonderful thing of a life is good stuff, mister.

And oh man, I can't wait to be 50.


Cindy said...

LOL. My split personality self is your one hero?
The link above is right, but you ascribed it to Cranky Cindy.

If I'd let her post, she'd probably have said,
"and I'm going to get a part-time job as a checkout chick at the grocery store in town and every time a member comes through my line I'm going to hand out a pledge card with the receipt."

so you might want to change that. ;-)

Kari said...

I had this nagging feeling that something was just......wrong. LOL!

Fixed it. :-)

Happy Cindy and Cranky Cindy are my heroes. Both of ya.

flyraeven said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you.

Anna Banana said...

As good as 50+ is (my favorite decade so far, not kidding), you may still need to remind yourself to be a non-anxious presence. Wondering why it's not referred to as a Calm Presence?

Kari said...

A.B.--I have no idea and wondered the same thing about why this is a phrase that describes what is not instead of what is. Maybe someone can fill us in. And really, I am looking forward to each new decade, bring it on!

Kristina said...

Okay, as for me, I'm really hoping that 40 is my "it" decade (or one of many "it" decades)because my 30s, while filled with the wonder of becoming a wife and mother, have been very difficult and I would like to believe that will magically change at 40!

That aside, I'm sorry that things are so hard for you right now. I'll hold up an extra thought and prayer for you.

Cindy said...

I started posting here in response to A-B's question, but it got long, so I moved it to happycindy.