I have always been one to leap ahead. When I was thirteen and a half I declared to my family that I was “nearly fifteen”. I spent most of my childhood planning what I would do “when I grew up”, and now that I am a grown up I wonder when I will feel that I have properly grown up. I still find myself thinking ahead: to the next school holidays, to the time when the kids are all toilet-trained, to the future school year, the next book project, the next study pathway…
One of the results of this strange time in life is that our capacity to think ahead has been shaken. Much of this is distressing: travel or wedding plans that need to be rearranged, birthdays that have to switch from being parties to nothing. But I am finding this one grace in it all – that I must take most days as they come. Part of this is the uncertainty of the future, and part of it is the way that sheer exhaustion has simply eroded my ability to think further ahead than I have to.
Today, a few days into the first week with all my students back at school, I paused in the driveway with my car door open, caught a glimpse of the flowers in the garden bed, and simply breathed. Whatever stresses I carried with me from the day just gone, however little energy I had left, I had this moment to breathe, to prepare. And I need those moments. When we rush ahead, we charge on in our own power, our own wisdom, our own sense of self. That rarely works. When life pulls us up and makes us pause, it is almost always a grace. Because we need to breathe, to look to our maker, to remember who we are and who we are living for.
And then I picked up my bags and walked inside, empowered to love.