even the crickets have gone to sleep, but i'm awake, as i have been often at 2 a.m. these past months. much of my wakefulness has been restless, whether it has been in the daytime or the nighttime. you wouldn't have been able to tell by looking at me...the restlessness has been primarily internal.
i've spent the past 20 months journeying through the desert, figuratively. but lately, it's been different. finally, rain came to the desert.
when it first starts raining in the desert, it touches the surface. you see it. you feel it. but it doesn't go deep. still...you know it's good, and you know it was needed, and it is so good to feel something other than dust on your skin. but when the desert has been without rain for a very long time, it's skin is broken and cracked and dry. and while the rain calms the dust, it rolls off the surface. it doesn't soak in. it doesn't heal. it's just water. just water. just. water.
water might be what started it all. we take water for granted where i live. every home has a source of water for immediate use and consumption. most homes have many. sinks, tubs, toilets, spigots. yes, i included toilets. because the water there helps keep bacteria and disease away from us. we don't really think about why we need water at all.
in july i went to meet some people who were doing something amazing. a group of 17 people were taking the summer to ride their bicycles across the united states. they were doing it for blood:water mission. their goal? to increase awareness and raise money to help build 1,000 clean-water wells in africa. and by having clean water, it will help eliminate disease, hence, clean blood. that's when it started - when i went to meet these people.
when the desert is without rain, it doesn't change much. walking on the hard soil is like walking on rocks. you can hike for days and a quick wind will erase the dust of your footprints. when the ground is dry, it's not affected by you. and things will still grow, as they've acclimated themselves to that terrain. it's not unlivable.
the desert of my soul had become hard and cracked and dry. i'd lost my ability to feel much of anything. that's one of the beauties of the desert. not feeling can be welcome. not feeling can be a relief. not feeling is a way to protect yourself. from what, you ask? simple. from feeling. because when your soul is hard and cracked and dry like the desert, and you don't feel, you protect yourself from pain. from things that hurt. and who doesn't want that?
but when it rains in the desert, you start to feel. the rain washes the dust away. and slowly, very slowly, the rain stops rolling off the top and starts sinking in. do you know what happens when water and dirt mix? the shape of things starts changing, and you get mud. mud is messy. mud is dirty. mud is unpredictable. when dirt is hard and cracked and dry, you know you can stomp all over it without much of a reaction. but mud? squish. splash. ooze.
it's not a pretty thing, but it's been raining in my desert life since summer and now i'm all muddy and gooey and oozey on the inside. the rain has been sinking in and my life is changing, because i'm feeling again. high highs and low lows. the happy times are happier and the sad times are sadder. but that's the way it is in real life.
amazing the things you start to notice when you allow yourself to feel. and what i've noticed is people, and how blessed i am to have so many of them in my life. how necessary they are in my life. and how much fun it is to play, in the mud, with your friends! so the restlessness is part of the rain, the mud, the feeling. restlessness is not bad. it's part of the healing.