“So what’s next?”
When I would talk with my mom in the weeks following my trip home, after we’d spent our time mutually decompressing about the whirlwind of emotions and the ensuing changes to household life (more of an adjustment for my parents than myself), that was always the question to be asked: What’s next?
July brought one big change at work: we moved offices, just my department and I. Now half a mile down the road and entirely in our own space, it’s a very different kind of environment than the cubicle/social hub that I’d occupied up to this point. I spend a lot more time alone now with my coworkers often out on the road. I do feel like I’m being more productive, and I am certainly far more organized. Now instead of running home every midday, I’ve begun to spend my lunch breaks at my desk with a book. I’m not nearly so introverted-out by the end of the day (and I’ve read, like, a dozen books). It’s been a really good change.
August kicked off with the Dormition Fast. Two weeks of intensely spiritual reflection and almost every night of it spent in church, leaving me once more in humbled gratitude of the gift that we are given with these times of concentrated ascesis. I can only pray to be faithful enough to keep that devotion in the times that follow. The two weeks since then have been surprisingly busy – and social! – and I’ve had little time to think about the big question.
Yesterday marked the Church New Year. In his homily, Fr. David remarked on the start of school and the oncoming end of summer. “This is the time of year,” he said, “When things start to get back to normal.”
There are no major holidays in the next couple months. No family events. No birthdays for another month. No fasts until we near Nativity (though we do have a couple great feasts). No plans to travel, and no more work adjustments on the horizon. It’s just…normal time.
Sometimes I think the hardest thing to do is just to be. Not to plan, not to anticipate. Not to gear up for or decompress from. Just to be. To live in the rhythm of day-to-day life requires a concentration and diligence* that I often struggle with, finding it far easier to escape into plans or lists or anything other than the here and now. But here I am: starting the new year in normal time. Bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness.
*I had a little plaque that used to hang in my bedroom, reminding me that the meaning of the name Emily is “Diligent.” Maybe I need to pull that out again.