Monthly Archives: February 2012

Settling into Stillness

My contractions have been intermittent for some time now. Starting. Stopping. Starting. Stopping. At first this all feels exciting. And then, after a couple of weeks of on-again-off-again, and then a couple of days of really-intense-and-then-nothing, I realize that the entire process begins to take a toll.

I’ve mentioned a book by Sue Monk Kidd before – When the Heart Waits – and it’s a beautiful book on the spiritual art of waiting. I opened it this morning, and was surprised again by how rich her story is. Like having a spiritual director on every page.

She has an entire chapter on “Concentrated Stillness,” which is a beautiful phrase and such a counter-intuitive posture for us human kind. Kidd opens the chapter with a quote by Meister Eckhart: “Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.” Lovely.

For me, these moments before childbirth have carried a restless stillness. One I find myself resisting and embracing all at the same time.

As my friend Jean says, “you’re in the tunnel.” The broad horizon of life narrows and these days become concentrated in their focus. The nesting is done. The details are done. Even the baby-building is done. Now, it is the waiting.

Waiting time can feel like wasted time because, by nature, it’s not all that productive. But this has been good for me. Playing lots of Scrabble with my mom and Jamie. Cooking. Going out to Café Lilou. Resting every day. Letting life slow. Embracing the tunnel. Being.

Feels foreign and familiar at the same time. Like this is the appropriate rhythm and, yet, also a little twilight zone-y.

Is this what Eckhart meant? Stillness is a God-space. These times of concentrated stillness are kairos moments, and that is why they feel both profound and entirely unproductive. Otherworldly.

Settling into stillness is what today is about for me. And maybe tomorrow, too. I’ve been assured this won’t all go on forever (though you reach a point when you truly believe you will be pregnant for the rest of your life). Allowing myself to step off the treadmill of trying. Slowing down to a crawl and letting myself process the resistances that surface. Admitting my self-worth doesn’t hinge on what I can produce in a day. Unhooking what I do from who I am. Concentrated stillness. A good gift.

Are you in a season of stillness? How have you responded?

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confession

Before I could do anything else today, I needed to sit down and write this:

In May I told you that I had met with an agent (and his lovely wife) who had expressed interest in representing me for my second book. Woohoo! I finished my proposal, emailed it to him, moved around the world, and waited.

Very recently, it became clear that the proposal is in need of “some tweaks” if it is to become a book, in need of clarity in a few places. I understand this to be a completely valid part of the process, but did I mention I’m 100 months pregnant, practically requiring pulleys and levers to even get in and out of my bed at this point?

I think it is a universal truth that the last month of pregnancy is no time for finding clarity on anything.

Additionally, I’ve been through “this” before. Found Art kept coming apart at the seams when I was trying to get it written. Just a real mess at many moments in the process. In the middle of the initial draft, I found out I was pregnant with Luke and Lane. No problem, I thought, I’ll be done with this thing long before the babies are born.

Of course, I wasn’t.

In many ways, I had only just begun. And when L&L were born, the book still hadn’t totally come together. In fact, my editor, Angela, and I agreed that I would just take a little break, have the babies, and get back to the writing when I could.

I began to refer to the manuscript as “Angela’s Ashes.”

When the babies were 3 weeks old, I got back to it. Not because anyone was forcing me to but because I needed to. I needed to finish the project that I had been carrying for over four years. I needed closure. I needed to know that motherhood wasn’t a dream that had swallowed up my other dreams. When the babies were 3 months old, I turned in a completely revised draft of the book. I’ll always believe that while that was one of the most intense seasons of my life, the writing really did save me.

But it took me a long time to sleep all that off.

Now, on the absolute eve of birthing another not-so-Tiny Tank, I wonder how this book #2 project is going to unfold. I’ve found I don’t like going into childbirth with any loose ends.

In the midst of all this, an amazing blog, has just gone viral and has set the four corners of the world abuzz (including my corner of the world). And while she (who is beyond fabulous, by the way) posts pictures of visiting agents in New York in her new outfit from Nordstrom, waiting to weigh out potential offers from publishers, I’m waddling and glowering and trying to resist the urge to say, “I quit. I’m outta the game.”

As if there were only room for one more book in the world. As if there were only room for one more voice.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours feeling ever so slightly sorry for myself. I see how small that’s making me feel, and I believe grace is so much bigger.

Before I do anything else today, I’m stepping into the confessional and asking to be power-washed of the lies. Because I want right now to be about space and freedom.

I’ll end with a prayer:

God, I want to trust you.

I could use some help with that.

Amen.

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