"For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts.... But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2Cor 4:6-7)
A jar of clay? A pot. An image of earthly humanity. And at my age, my "pot" has been used and beat around. Which makes me what? A cracked old pot, not so much containing God's glory as helplessly hoping that's what will shine through and ooze out in a way that blesses my world.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The Tuesday report--that crazy mix of fruit and blessing, work and disruption, and just plain hard
morning. November sun mild on the balcony. I drew the chair close to put a foot on the low ledge. It rested
there, toes all browny-pink with the month-old pedicure. Nails so long that one had started to curve round the end of its toe. Polish remover pad in hand, I
surveyed the distance and counted the cost to reach those toes and minister to
My 59-year-old back was tight.
It aches with muscle spasms brought on by the bending, stooping, stretching and
reaching of gathering olives. Lots of olives. I pulled my body forward, thigh
pressing into the resistant fat of a soft, sagging front. Yes, I can still do
this little work of self-care, but gone are the days when I could pull that
foot easily to my face, or so contort my frame as to hook it behind my neck. When
this bit of self-care was fast and effortless.
I scrubbed for some minutes to get through
layers of polish. Then to the clipping. And the filing. And finally the application of oils and lotions. My left leg, less limber than the right, tends
to cant sideways as if to plié. Hard to hold so that those toenails face me.
Its broken little toe was swollen and protested the twist to clip and
As I labored, images of my dad’s crabbed feet
with their thick nails and thin skin led me into musings around the self-care
that is necessary to sustain a pouring-out kind of life full of people and
laundry and food prep and harvest and laundry and language learning and ironing
that fill the gaps of my contemplative life. That morning approaches when
others will have to take up these matters of personal care and do them for me, as we did for Dad.
In the past week at Spa for the Soul we hosted
guests; I gave time to spiritual direction, to listening, and to the
preparation of tasty meals; we gathered 300+ pounds of olives from our trees and
hauled them to a village press where they yielded up 27 liters (7 gallons) of
oil; we continued that sometimes delightful, often amusing, and mostly
downright confusing journey of language learning; and we prayed: for this place
and its people, for those in our care, for concerns and obstacles, and for
Ayşe and Çiğdem walked me through olive making
...the scent of sun-dried clothes and sheets...
Tuesday bore the whole mix.
Early morning prayer gave way to a clogged
kitchen sink. Curt was testy-weary of maintenance things small and large. I
hauled laundry from over the house, sorted piles over the kitchen floor, and
got the first load in. No electricity. Power cuts: many this week, and several
times for hours on end. Tuesday’s cut lasted until too late for anything to dry
on the line. The laundry got put off until Wednesday. There we were, stepping
over the piles.
After a string of disrupted days, I was
determined that morning to return to my plan to write and study Turkish for four or five uninterruptable
hours in the morning. As I settled at my desk, Curt’s phone rang. I heard him,
“Sure, we need to bring a guest down
to the bus station this morning anyway. Yeah, we can meet—say, 10:30 or 11:00?
I’ll call when we get there.” The guy who sold us a couple of old kayaks was
in town with the promised spray skirts and life-vests.
There went the plan. Again. I turned to my
computer to at least pay a few bills in the short time I had. Humpf. No
electricity, no internet.
As, under Curt's plan, both of us would go to town, it seemed good to take care of several “town” needs. We dropped our guest
at the bus station, then wandered Kaş. Curt got new glass cut for a broken
bathroom light fixture. I picked up groceries I’d forgotten the day before. We
chatted with the kayak guy. I returned a lamp and paid for the one we kept. Curt
picked up his prints. I hunted down brown paint to repair another broken
light fixture. Then there is that other “what we need to do in town.” Errands
are a social occasion—coffee with Halil, Gül and Dilek; tea with
Paskal. Chat with Gafer, and with Ahmet. So much goodness, and it all takes time and energy.
Which brings me to the other thing. Self-care
and sustainable living. We returned to Spa for the Soul after our summer break
just a month ago. And I’m exhausted. Curt is wearing thin. By early afternoon
we were home and all I wanted was my bed. With so much waiting to be done.
How to describe the weariness. Anything that
needs doing, well, it feels just…too…hard. Mind and body together whine for
mindlessness and for rest.
Why? Why so exhausted in the midst of goodness, fruit, and beauty?
We work hard. We do hard physical work. We
pour into relationships. And we stretch our minds in creative work. We drain ourselves dry.
My back is all spasms, stiff with pain that saps energy.
To listen deeply and to pray with and for
guests and neighbors, yes, that too consumes fragile emotional reserves. It is
work that I love, and work that bears much fruit, rich with God’s movement and goodness. As an
introvert I am wired for deep listening and interaction. Still it saps my
energy and the exhaustion goes deep.
Who can account for the energy consumption
of language learning, and living and working in a language we speak only
And we are aging.
Lately I suspect still another reason
for the intensity of exhaustion. There is an enemy who prowls. His weapons are
deceit and confusion. He is good at throwing obstacles our way. I’m tempted to
go into details, but I won’t.
Tuesday afternoon I felt too drained for
anything. Curt hung out with his olive trees while I rested. At sunset we
played cards for a bit, then enjoyed a bit of TV with popcorn for dinner.
Now it is Thursday. Nothing has changed. Life
continues good and beautiful and blessed. The day is mild. The laughter and
chat and games of pre-school children at play wafts through my open window.
Curt is out with his olives. My back remains fragile, and I am weary. Dear ones
come and go, and they speak of ways they are blessed by this place and their
time here. I notice enemy whispers about all the things I can’t do well, whether
in the realm of self-care, harvest, creative process, or beyond-my-control
I recall God’s promises. They cut through
the haze. Whatever one can say about me, HE is strong—and able, and good. "His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:11