It was one of those rare evenings where I had some time for a phone call catch up with a childhood friend. It’s amazing to me first off, that I have had the same friends for over 25 years (seeing as I made them when I was like, 2, obviously and secondly, that these friendships have continued to be cultivated and are still a source of significant connection for me, no matter how much time flies by, no matter where that flying time may take me.
Getting the chance to chat with this particular friend always takes me back to those late nights curled up on my bed in a shared room with my little sister-I would most likely have shooed her out, and opened up the only window in the room. I would breathe in deep, the sweet country air. The sky would be dark all around and I’m twisting my fingers through the curly cue chord of my prized touch tone phone; we’re gossiping about boys, figuring out what next to do with our hair, contemplating who will be dating who, giggling as we share secrets.
We were taken care of: futures bright; fear and regret, inexplicable hardship, the sheer will to survive- those were never even a blip on our strawberry fields.
Decades later, I’m still curled up on my bed late at night, giggling with my friend. Hair cutting conversations have been swapped for recommendations on the best wrinkle creams, and rather than getting opinions from each other on the names of our future children, we are shouting out those names given: Time to get out of the shower! Stop fighting with your sister! Promising to be there in “just a minute.”
We are both motherless in this life now, further sealing our connection; 25 years ago, our mother’s faces would have been popping through the door, notifying us of the late hour and ordering us to bed. Tonight, we were the one’s keeping tabs on bedtimes, kissing sweet heads, turning off the lights.
Time has changed us. It’s been beautiful and bittersweet.
We have both experienced hardships in life, and while things feel like they have sort of leveled out for me, for the present time at least, for some unknown reason, she is still just going through it. It’s like she’s treading water and every time it seems she makes some progress, this big, dark wave just slaps her back down under the surface. I hold my breath in solidarity with her. Each time, she resurfaces, somehow a little stronger. This has been a theme in her life and as per usual, she fights, because that’s all she’s ever done. She fights for herself, for her child, for their future together. She is the ultimate survivor- extraordinary, resilient, resourceful.
We were going over the state of things and I felt there really just wasn’t much to say. She’s in a place of uncertainty, with very little control over her circumstances. She really, really needs things to change, for many reasons, but it looks and feels like nothing is happening- that there is no space, no way for things to get better. I feel I can only imagine how overwhelmed she must be at certain points throughout her day, and while I am not there now, I can identify with those feelings of being so buried that you feel like you are literally going to crawl out of your skin because you are so out control, so out of the realm of being able to predict how this whole thing is going to turn out.
It kind of feels like your world has stopped turning, things are in slow motion, time is inching by.
And as the days crawl on, it seems the only place you end up traveling to is to the land of minutiae, zero progression and WHAT THE HELL? You wake up from this nightmare and look at yourself in the mirror, and whisper, so that only you can hear: ‘How did I get here in the first place? How did this happen? How is this thing going to end?’
I am sitting under a tree.
There are termite hills surrounding me- red, red dirt, packed high, tall as a full grown man. I watch the termites work, adding to their fortress- I study for hours, that then roll into days. I can’t see the progress on their towers with my physical eye, but over time, I believe, the structure of the hills will change. They will become greater, more protected, more intricate. It’s the way they work, the design of it all.
Poul is watching the same work and quietly reflects out loud, the prolific words of none other than the great Willie Nelson: Still is still moving to me. He keeps repeating it, like a mantra, and I think I’m watching him go mad. But then I start contemplating those four, actually three, words. ‘Still is still moving’ and I realize he’s not going crazy, it’s just the truth of the state we are in. Thousands of termites and two worn out hostages.
We can’t see ANYTHING happening. We feel we have been forgotten. We believe there is no progress, and we are no closer to getting home than we were two months ago. But if I sit with the truth- the reality is that we have no idea what is going on around us, behind the scenes- it’s invisible to us, but just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean things aren’t moving in the right direction. Who knows, we could be free tomorrow. Or, as Providence would have it, in just a couple more days. But we don’t know this, how could we?
So, we make ourselves busy by sitting. We figure out how to wait. Because still is still moving.
My friend is in another desert right now. But she knows, she BELIEVES. She is a person of unwavering faith, and that is why she survives. She sits still, because her Creator is moving things along. When it is time, she trusts that she will understand the intricate workings, the tunnels that are being built, the connections that are being strengthened, because still is still moving to her.
My four year old is in a constant state of wonder at the moving sky. He’ll ask me on a weekly basis about the floating clouds. I wrack my very tired brain and try to explain that the wind is moving those wispy puffs of white, and that the Earth is also moving around the Sun, so fast- so very, very fast. We both stand still for a minute and he asks why we can’t feel ourselves moving. In my heart, I smile as I make the connection. How very fundamental this lesson is, that even the physical Earth is displaying for us, if we will take the time to understand: still is still moving- All the time, all for us.
Be encouraged-things take the time they need to take. No more, no less.
You have what you need for right now, and that is all you can really ask for. If your heart is still beating, and you can feel the Earth beneath you, it may be hard to believe, but you are going to be ok, it’s all going to turn out the way it needs to.
We just need to trust the process, because things will move where they need to, when they need to, especially when we figure out how to just sit still. We don’t need to see it happening, manage it’s progress, or give it permission to hammer out the things that we don’t understand.
Still will always still be moving to me.
Image by Tycho/Elegy