We were driving yesterday, or the day before, a long stretch of road that we drive often. Two of the four kids were sleeping and I was watching the sky overhead, the bare bones of tree limbs, scratching at gray clouds. We were going quickly and I felt a sudden panic. On this long, familiar road, a road to and from church, a road to and from family, to and from friends, the feeling came in an instant and lingered. It followed me down the curving road, over slushy puddles and well-worn bumps, the stretch home.
The skies felt too low, the trees too over-arching, the whole world was gray, was small. Too small for the rising panic in my heart, in my head, over nothing. My house is warm. My stomach is full. My children are clothed. My husband is good. My God is sovereign.
I closed my eyes and listed them, blessings, touchstones to comfort, talking myself down from this feeling. This gray.
I do not sleep well, always. Some nights, I lay with my eyes open, blinking at the black ceiling and resenting my husbands rumbling snores. And so I list again, the things that can talk me down, down to slumber. I lack nothing. I have time to do what needs to be done. I have means to meet the needs of my family. I have faith that this gray will not consume. Will not. This.
This morning, Alex is pacing into my room, hard and fast. Anxious. What time are we going to our cousins?
I realize, he has seen the clock and remembers hearing that we would go in the morning. It’s ten now, and I am here, typing, not showering and shoving pull-ups into the diaper bag.
Oh, my first shoot today is postponed until tomorrow. We can go later. We’ll go after lunch.
He shakes his head, pacing still. He is processing this. I see his fingers move rapidly, the thumb skimming over each fingertip, counting maybe. Maybe talking himself down from his own panic over a day not going as planned, as promised.
Ten minutes later, he has made Evaline cry and is lecturing her on the cost of electricity and how she doesn’t need to have the bedroom light on when THE CURTAINS ARE OPEN!
But, I want to say, standing in the door frame, holding my coffee and clicking the light back on for Evie. It’s gray out there.
(And when did you become a forty year old man, worried about electric bills that you don’t even pay?)
This is where I am talking to myself, to myself from days ago, to myself in long car rides and turning over again on sleepless nights. Yes. The world is gray for this moment. Yes, your heart may feel it too. But, who are you to turn out a light and pace around the hallways of your heart, day and night, waiting for the smallness to feel larger, or for it to consume you all together. Who are you to worry or to be anxious at the gray skies, when you know that the sun is just beyond?