I stare into the monitor’s glow, tracking my recent input. Weariness escapes, poorly disguised as a sigh and I realize my neck and shoulders are stiff from sitting for such a long stretch of time. My fingers come to a halt, hovering above the keyboard, where the letters, ‘e’, ‘r’, ‘t’, and ‘s’ have been worn completely away, and some others faded to partially legible.
From the interior of a century old brick administration building on the university campus, I work in an 8 by 8 storage closet which was retrofitted with a basic desk and shelves a few years ago. Inadequate natural light filters in from the only window located outside my office door in the passageway. I am a little suspicious that the ivy plant on my desk still shows signs of life. Today, I’m feeling somewhat lifeless too.
It is the first week of September, and I am dismayed how the calendar so swiftly progressed to now….one minute after another, hours after days after weeks and months at the computer to successfully arrange for a new class of students to arrive. It is a challenge to not consider my time here, much of it spent typing numbers and letters, as the paltry proof of my existence etched out in digital code.
Looking down at my hands, I draw in a slow, deep breath, and place them in my lap. Thoughts for loved ones, kept in check by focus on work, creep into my consciousness….
For a precious baby boy, whose sturdy toddler legs carried him into danger, and whose lungs now struggle to breathe; for his mother whose heart yearns and wills him whole and healed again; for his grandmother who is half a world away, aching to hold them both and offer comfort…
For a friend, injured and insulted by unfair hostilities in the workplace, and feeling no hope for reconciliation there, nor any positive way out…
For my dad, whose diagnosis in September two years ago, followed by the miracle that medicine brings, has received treatment which restored his quality of life and given an entire family the gift of time…. sweet, sweet time to share more gatherings together…
A pair of Mississippi Kites have decided to rest in the oaks near my building before continuing their migration south. They call out, pulling me back from my reverie, their high-pitched pleas sounding like bottle rockets shrieking announcements across the sky on 4th of July. From outside the glass panes, now a transparent portal for what is real, they beckon me ….
Ah, there it is…a seed of recognition…. recalled from a recent conversation with my Spiritual Director: She has become intent on seeking out that which is real, and her declaration has stirred my attention. As always, for me, God’s natural sanctuary offers up an appealing dose.
The tasks in front of me seem meaningless in comparison to all that happens beyond the window….and my patience for editing documents wanes. I have reached my saturation point, and cannot abide the small office confines. I’ve already sold too much of my life for bits of data stored on a server located somewhere in a damp basement.
I roll my chair away from the computer, walk through the door and down the hallway, descend the massive stone staircase in the foyer, and step out into the brightness of daylight.
I proceed slowly along the concrete sidewalk feeling the calming sunshine radiate upon my face and shoulders, releasing the stress and easing my knotted back and neck. Scattered pinecones hint that autumn is near, and I retrieve one, prickly and feather light in my hand. Eager green acorns crunch beneath each step I take. On impulse, I remove my shoes. The walkway feels slightly rough, and is a tangible foundation warming my tender feet. The softness of green lawn entices me and I venture into it, walking there on a natural emerald carpet, savoring the cool, soft, tickle as the blades come up between my toes.
How long since grass caressed my bare feet?
My soles welcome solid ground and my soul is rescued… standing there in the sun’s embrace, between earth and sky, holding nature’s bounty in my grasp.