Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Think

Here I am in week three of midterms.  My luck was unfortunate because of the way in which my midterms fell - two weeks of solid midterms bookended by two New Testament exams.  Four weeks straight.  I'm getting weary but still trying to push through.

I didn't have Con Ed yesterday, so I was home working on a paper that is due on Thursday.  I was sitting on my couch and my gaze happened to look up at Leslie's painting that is hanging above my fireplace.  I started to think about that painting and what her art teacher was trying to have the class accomplish when she was working on it.  When I first found the stack of paintings in Leslie's basement, she explained to me that she was taking an art class in San Francisco and her instructor encouraged them not to think.  I've always thought that was a cool expression of oneself - what does your mind do when it doesn't think?

Well, I had a different thought about this painting yesterday.  I was thinking about Sunday night.  Bruce and I went to St. Bart's for the Compline - it's a wonderful service of nighttime prayers - chanting, candles, incense, reading - it's wonderful.  I was so frustrated during the service though - all I wanted to do was empty my mind and let the service fill me up and I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't get Candler out of my mind.  I cried.  I just wanted an hour where I didn't think and I couldn't do it.

As I looked at this painting yesterday, the thought suddenly occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't that Leslie wasn't thinking while she was painting; maybe it's just that her mind emptied through her paintbrush and created what is now hanging above my mantle.  Maybe that's my problem.  Maybe I have no way of emptying my mind.  If I try to engage in activities of "self-care" but don't really have a way a releasing the stress and anxiety in my life, then am I really doing myself any good?

I've started knitting again.  I'm not very good at it.  I can essentially make scarves and blankets and really only know one stitch.  But I need to be creative.  I need to take my anxiety and let it rest in creative processes rather than on my heart and mind.  We'll see if it works.

In the meantime, continue to pray for Bruce and me.  I've taken to saying "we're in seminary" or "when we finish this program" because I'm realizing more and more that we really are in this together.  Bruce may not be in class with me but he's walking with me on the path and experiencing the same highs and the lows.  It's good to know that I'm not alone.

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