Today, I listen to the new album from my favorite band - Over the Rhine's "The Long Surrender." And I lean back, reflecting on surrender, acceptance, and a favorite word of one theologian - "docilitas". Being docile, submitted, accepting, in a peaceful, active serenity.
Sometimes, the only way to escape is to relax, the only way through is to go through.
Last night I met Ree - the Pioneer Woman. She sat for hours signing books, posing for pictures, smiling, writing, making small talk. I was in line for over three hours - and that was with a color-coded wrist band.
And even snaking around the edge of the Border's book store was sublime. I was where I belonged: in a book store, among a bunch of women, waiting for someone I was a fan of. Even though I had a squirmy toddler with me and I was dying of thirst, I was where I wanted to be.
And it's been a while since I felt that feeling: of being where I wanted to be.
We're living with my in-law's at the moment. In a state I'd rather not be a resident of. With my Kitchen-Aid mixer packed in a cardboard box and my Pioneer Woman cookbook packed heaven knows where. I live in a dorm-room set-up, cramming essentials and essential non-essentials side by side: computers, dressers, extravagantly large Craig's List free TV with XBox, my baby on the other side of the adjoining bathroom. Three rooms comprise my life - bedroom, bathroom, nursery. All other space is shared space, shared with Nana and Grandma and the ubiquitously Southern "Papaw." I keep thinking of the nursing home residents I knew who boiled down their possessions to what they could fit in one shared room - one single room if they were lucky and their children were financially able to provide it.
It's been a long surrender. A long way to sharing life with people who were family who I didn't really know. A long way through grieving the loss of cold winters and letting myself enjoy seventy degree February days. I chafe and squirm and wrestle as forcefully as my toddler squirms to escape my arms.
I could pin it on my Scottish blood, where independence is prized above all. I could ascribe my restless angst to human nature.
What I really wonder is how, every day, I feel gratitude welling up in the midst of my squirming bid for escape. I feel deep contentment when I brush the hair off my little boy's forehead, when I watch the sleeping form of my curled-up husband, when I help Nana reach something. How can I feel both? Because I do. I squirm and smile at the same time. I chafe and rest simultaneously.
I could say something trite, like people should want to be where they are, instead of longing to be where they want to be. But I think that betrays our deep heart-long for heaven, even when we try to make heaven here on earth.
I long to be where I want to be. Sometimes, I don't even know where that is. Last night, I accidentally discovered I was right where I wanted to be. I am where I want to be, most deeply: with spouse-friend and baby. I am where I want to be: listening to lyrics that take me home, wherever home is. I am where I want to be: in a safe place with people who want me.
But some nights, I squirm for my Kitchen-Aid mixer and cookbook, that are not where I want them to be: packed in cardboard that is scampered on by lizards.
Will I ever surrender?
Should I, when I long for something good?
Do I have anything left to surrender?
Right now, all I know is that finding ourselves right where we want to be sets us free. Maybe it sets us free to be where we squirm, just a little bit longer.