Fallow

I am waiting for the early rains and the late rains. Years ago I read that verse in James: See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Today is a beautiful day. Cool, breezy, bright sun. The kids and I were out earlier, returning at lunch, and I went to bed for the afternoon. I laid in bed thinking some, but mostly just sensing the tick and hum of being alive. I am near the end of a difficult year. Remember I count by school calendar years, and this is our second in Korea.

Last year was good and tough. This year was mostly tough. Last year I thought I might make a place for myself at the school by writing for the school, and I continue to do that, but it isn’t my paid role. I am a substitute teacher and this year reckoned with anxiety as I have little control over my daily work schedule and am often in classrooms and situations that are new. Last year I was energized by the novelty of stepping into a junior kindergarten class or guiding a psychology class discussion. This year I am mostly just tired. I do my work, and well or well enough, but knowing I am in this role for at least one more school year (likely two), I struggle to surrender to being uncomfortable. Also, how to let go the pride that nags me: I applied for a teaching job and was not hired, and I miss the arc of a school year in my own room, the rapport I have with a single group of students.

I do not have eyes to see why I am here, except that here is a good place for my husband and our kids. And here can be a good place for me too, but this year brought me low and I was hoping spring might be more than metaphor, that the change of season might lift me.

Now I am like fallow ground. I am waiting and learning the work of waiting again. I am waiting for my knee to heal so I can run in the mornings as I like. I am waiting to know which MFA program will accept me, to begin study next year. I am waiting for the slips of ideas I have about pieces and books to write to weave together, hold tight, and show up on paper. I am waiting for my husband to know rest too, after his year carrying so much in our house. I am waiting for my kids to forget for a time, how slow they had to walk so I could keep up.

I was made slow this year. I was made weak this year. There were things I wanted to do that I could not. And there were days when I did not want to rise but got up and went on, but really, I don’t know that I am better for getting up and going on with a day that only challenged my mind to keep the face, voice and body on pace when the mind wanted to let my face, voice and body return to bed or lay in a quiet room and not move for a long time.

So much was not terrible! So much was lovely. But also, so much was a choice. Such effort to walk into a classroom and say good morning, or into church to greet a brother or sister. Such effort to make a day pleasant for the kids or to join my husband for a breakfast out. Such effort to continue the physical therapy knowing the incremental progress of making a strong arch ankle knee hip.

In January, I thought the year was going to be okay. I was running again. I was in counseling to address anxiety and what I might do professionally or personally to mediate the fear. Later in January my body broke again, my mind stuttered. The few months since have been about truth and patience. Telling myself the truth, including that this light momentary affliction is preparing me for an eternal weight of glory. Or framing my suffering as pruning, to bear fruit. Or repeating snippets of verses: do not be anxious, in everything give thanks, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, do not be afraid. I walk around moving my lips. I take halting deep breaths. There is nothing to do but live each day. There must be freedom in this ability to be patient with today, unhurried for tomorrow. This is not my first go at being present: the lesson is hard, frequently revisited. Laying in bed helps.

Waiting is difficult. It is like the early morning on the river path when I walk though my body wants to run and still I continue to walk, hoping healing is soon made complete. Or it is the ground left to enrich. I look at this year and see harvested stalks tilled under. This year will compost. I will turn it over, feed air to the beetles and worms. There is a crop, grasses or wildflowers that will root in this soil. I have to believe that this empty field is not empty and the soil is good, will not waste an early rain, and will be ready for the late rain.


Seventeen of thirty-nine. 909 words.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: