I was exhausted and completely at the end of myself.
I’m writing from the balcony of a motel room in California. The rugged dessert mountains are like giant sentinels, the palm trees loom and the sun shines warm.
It’s a beautiful day here. It’s 80 degrees, partly cloudy. I took a 4-mile walk first thing this morning. I passed a few people and exchanged a simple “good morning.”
Halfway through my walk, I sat silently and marveled as a flock of flamingos preened. They were so close I could see the white of their eyes. I snapped a picture for a couple who wandered up. Otherwise, it’s been a solitary morning.
I went to the “Quiet Pool” after my walk. There was some contemplative type of music playing. No words, no bass guitar. Just flutes, I think.
Some elderly folks were hanging out, whispering. I got a little tickled at one point because as old as I feel some days, I was the “spring chicken” in this setting of blue waters and tanned octogenarians. My sagging skin looked as smooth as a baby’s behind in comparison. I had a fabulous moment until I tweaked my back getting up to go to the restroom for the 10th time.
Nevertheless, I feel rested, and at peace, as the sun sets on Day 4 of my time away. And yes, it took three full days to refuel.
I was running on fumes. I was dangerously close to stalling out simply because I hadn’t taken the time to breathe, by myself, in the quiet.
It’s been said that this modern era has been labeled as the “age of anxiety” or the “age of depression.”
People in our culture, despite the amenities of the modern day, are pooped out emotionally. Phones ring (or ding), emails demand our attention, and crime is reported 24 hours a day. Netflix, Facebook/Snapchat and Candy Crush distract us and sometimes eat away at us.
And then there are people. Cranky co-workers, questioning kids, friends and family who fail. There is nothing left in the tank from which to draw and we are left on the side of the road thumbing it.
Appropriately, I am reading a book entitled, “Margin.” Dr. Swenson, a medical doctor, expounds on what we already know in our spirit. We are exhausted and deeply sad.
Swenson knows that there is a rightful time for medication but he emphatically believes that there are also ways to combat the ill effects of running on empty that often manifest in our physical body.
His very first prescription is to cultivate social support. In short, to be healthy, we need each other. We need to talk to a friend. Eat with family. Hug somebody regularly.
Swenson knows that nothing wears a person down more than broken relationships, so he prescribes that we relentlessly act to reconcile with those who have hurt us or with those we have wounded.
Also, Swenson prescribes serving others. A University of Michigan study of 2,700 people over a decade definitively declared that those who performed regular volunteer work showed a dramatic increased life expectancy. So serve someone.
Laughter and crying are two healing “drugs.” They heal and cleanse.
Rest radically restores a body. Sleep in, take a nap, turn off the phone. Do nothing, without apology.
For me, I had to go to the quiet pool, take long walks by myself, and embrace the silence. When I chose to shut out the world, I could once again hear the words of hope, love, grace that the Father was whispering.
And I feel full again.