Un-muddying the water

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How are you?

Are you busy? Racing from work to kids’ practices and afternoon meetings? Are you up early each day and slow down late at night? Juggling this and that? Working hard to study up, work off, pay off that bill and prepare the kids to rock their world?

How’s it going?

I spent years racing, outrunning, juggling, reading stacks of books, serving and working to be enough so I’d become like a cool drink of water to others. Refreshing. Necessary. Desirable. Wanted.

All of that activity and trying – I am now thinking – was a wholehearted and misguided attempt to clean the “waters within” – free them from the gunk, sieve the debris, restore the waters within to their first clarity. Drinkable. Unfouled. Beautiful. Inviting. Necessary. Desirable. Wanted.

My best efforts only got me so close to clear before the next churning storm. And then the next.

If you’ve ever stood where water gushes from a Kansas dam, you have likely seen the surge of brown chunky water. Still worth the kayak’s glide, water in the wheat state is often full of mud and good Kansas soil, fish, trees, a few hapless stowaways and whatever else finds itself into the swirling eddies along fields, urban parks and lakes.

With enough time and without intrusion or churning storm, the waters can clear. Not entirely, but mostly. Or they clear a little bit until the next collision of rain and wind or racing boats, or animals stir them again.

Toward this end – of clarity – un-muddied waters – I am being still.
Not to do anything.
More to let a thing undo itself.

And I am happy in myself. Finally. Sunday offers its unique loneliness and that’s okay.
This stillness is not to fix “happy.” It is to find clarity.

So many years of trying to clorox the waters within and now, I am un-muddying the water by letting it sit to still itself. To rest.

Instead of trying to actively achieve a result, right a wrong, create a peaceful environment within, I’m purposely drawing a blank. Pulling up a chair, walking the dog, doing my best at work and in my community of people, but not trying to fix anything.

No more attempts at shock and awe … not yet.

Another way to say it is that I am letting the dust settle in this place that once was a dust bowl.*

I want “the wind to blow the chaff away so that only the good remains.”

That’s a great line for a Kansas dweller. And it’s from a card sent to me by a friend from not so long ago, but many miles traveled since last we laughed together.

Let the wind blow the chaff away – all of the extraneous pursuits caught in the wind – and let the good remain.

Uncover the what that grows from my why. People are my why. People, life-long love/family/friends, meaningful work and adventure. The what is the thing I am waiting for the wind to uncover. To illuminate.

The what unfettered by guilt, shame, should haves and would haves and could haves. I am looking for the wills. The I will. We will. I will not.

This past year of “building” uncovered my what without question. How to live out the what of people, the not-yet lifelong love, meaningful work with excellence and the ever-beckoning adventure … that is message waiting at the bottom of the swirling eddy that is this season.

I cannot lie and say that I am patient, but I am more patient then before. Patient-er. Memory of decisions and outcomes has tempered me and though it threatens to snuff any hope or joy that has the courage to grow, being still is its own strength and defense.

I’ve made a list of the things I keep saying I’d like to do and a list about what I wish for as wishing is not something easily done.

Wishful thinking? Yes. Actually wishing for something – holding onto hope for a yet-known sweetness? Nope. But I can learn. It is something often lost in young lives of chaos.  I intend to cultivate it again. I think it is part of courage and confidence that becomes – for me – connection and community. And maybe a hand to hold.

Headed off on a quiet adventure. With a familiar book and at a coffee shop. Something new. Somewhere new to be quiet. Soon to see Madi and Zach off at an Oklahoma airport as they return to their home in Hamburg.

Adventure and wonder, friends. And my best thoughts your way.

If you have not yet read “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan, I recommend it. Written as novels often are, Pulitzer-winning Egan crafted the history into a compelling story. Real people. Real stories. Adventure. Wonder. Dust. 


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