On manna and writing

I have more “seeds” for posts than I have time to write. I carry a notebook with me all the time. I have a list of ideas in my phone as well. Any time I get an idea that I think is worthy of expanding on later I’ll put in one of those places.

Sometimes I get to write from these idea-seeds.

It seems that I never run out of things to write about. While I have those storehouses, I don’t often need them because when I find time to write I always have another topic to write on. Sometimes two or three.

It is like I am storing them up in case I hit a dry spell.

And then I’m reminded of the story of manna in the desert. God provided food for the Israelites in the form of manna. Yet he provided only enough for one day, except right before the Sabbath, where he would provide enough for two days. Every day they were to gather up just enough for that day. Every day after the gathering time the rest would disappear. They had to trust that God would provide for them the next day, and the next day, and the next day.

If they gathered up more than they could use for the day, they got sick.

So by saving up all these ideas, am I hoarding? Am I not trusting in God’s providence? Or am I being a good steward of what I am given, by keeping it for later?

Anne Lamott says to keep a notebook at all times, and write down any and all ideas. She jokes that if you don’t, she will, and she’ll get the idea and make money off of it. She also says that by keeping a notebook you are letting the Universe know that you are open to ideas and are a good place to send them too. I certainly can attest to the truth of that. The more I keep a notebook, the more writing ideas come to me.

I don’t always use them, but when I do, I’m grateful. Sometimes, just keeping a notebook helps me stay focused. Sometimes an idea will just not stay quiet until I write it down. I tell it that “I’ll get to you later” by writing it down. Sometimes I’ll use the idea in a post with a few other ideas and not even know I’ve already jotted it down in my notebook earlier. That is OK too. Better to have it in two places than none.

A pain in the gut.

A regular patron came in recently. Well, by regular I don’t mean he is normal. I mean he has been in often for the past several years. His paranoia has gone to new heights. He makes my former boss’ end of the world preparations look like child’s play.

He has a thirty year supply of seeds. He is raising his own food, and not just vegetables. He is raising sheep and goats and chickens. He even has a beehive.

Or at least I think he has all this. He might just be preparing to be prepared. It is in the works, at least.

He believes that you can’t trust anyone or anything. He believes that the government is out to get us all. He might be right. Who knows?

I’ve noticed that all these preppers don’t seem like happy people. Somehow all of this stocking and storing, this training and testing, doesn’t seem to be making them content. Somehow, instead of getting a sense of calm that they have everything under control and their lives are free from worry about other people and their perceived lack, they seem even more wound up.

I understand some of their desire to fend for themselves and not trust other people. When I was in college, we had to do group assignments. The group had to do the research and work on a project. Rarely did I get to pick the group I was in. I usually ended up doing all the work because I didn’t trust the competency of my fellow students. I didn’t want my grade to be adversely affected by their slack.

So the preppers are doing the same thing, but instead of their grades being affected, it is their lives. They think everything is going to hit the fan and it will be every man for himself.

I can handle only so much of this kind of talk. He has shared some of his theories with me in the past about how things are going to go south and I always feel physically bad afterwards.

I want to be present for people. I also want to be open. I want to study them as well. Sometimes I have to allow myself into situations that are uncomfortable for me in order to personally grow and learn.

But this time was different. Perhaps it was a cumulative effect. Last night’s rambles weren’t especially paranoid, but somehow I was affected adversely.

I started to feel a pain in my stomach shortly after our conversation ended. Now, it might help to know that I have a hernia. I thought it was acting up. I got it when my Mom was dying and I had to lift her from her bed to get her to the bathroom. I remember the feeling of my muscles in my abdomen snapping from the strain. She wasn’t especially heavy her whole life, and she was even less so then because of the chemotherapy, but I wasn’t trained for that kind of lifting.

I’ve strengthened my abdomen quite a bit in the past few years with water aerobics and yoga, but that kind of injury never fully heals. I’ve learned that if I do a forward fold it usually helps.

Not so in this case. I waited a bit, and then went to the bathroom. While sitting there, I thought about this pain. It kind of reminded me of the pain I had when I was in my first year of college. That wasn’t a pain from any physical illness, but it manifested in a physical way. It was a pain from stress, from anxiety, from fear. It was the pain of being too far away from everything I knew and facing a whole lot more of the unknown.

Then, I went to the student health services and they, in their ignorance, gave me an anti nausea pill that knocked me out for half a day.

I didn’t want to be unconscious, but I also didn’t want to be in pain.

So I prayed. What do I do, Lord?

The answer? A hard exhale. Just like in yoga class, the ocean sounding breath. Just like one teacher says “Fog up that invisible mirror in front of your beautiful face.” So I did it. Huhhhh.

And I felt instantly better. I did it a few more times and the pain was all gone.

And now I think I’ll have to tell that patron that I can’t listen to his prepper paranoia any more.

Just like finding out that I am allergic to a certain food and I no longer eat it because it makes me sick, I have to do the same with people and ideas. If they make me sick, don’t let them in my head.

But it is also good to know that the answer to every question is just a question away.

Half prayer

I was sitting at the end of my neighborhood, waiting for the light to change. It is a long light, and that intersection marks a change in the traffic from light to heavy.

I have started to use that time to pray.

This time I was filling up the space with my words, and this suddenly came to me. Be still. Let God fill you with God’s words instead.

Prayer isn’t just about talking to God. It is about letting God talk to you.

In my desire to pray, I was doing it all wrong. Or rather, I was doing it only half right.