As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes on and our country’s divisiveness grows, I find myself struggling to maintain a grace-filled, joyful heart. Social media once gave me a feeling of connectedness to those friends and family members living afar. Now, I often find it a combative space of isolation and wasteful comparison.
Fortunately, wide open spaces spanning river breaks and prairie hills offer me ample opportunity for clarity and conversation with God. I’m also quite fortunate for opportunities to see and hear a small circle of uplifting friends.
As someone who fights hard–yet still fails–to keep debilitating, often-unfounded fears at bay, the combination of those life-giving opportunities is priceless.
So today, as I felt the heaviness creeping back into my chest, I called a friend. Then, I stood outside, faced the sun, opened my arms to heaven, and breathed in all the life a crisp South Dakota fall air has to offer. When I finally exhaled, I realized something my hippy heart has always known: Heaviness creeps in and holds me down when I’m not being authentic.
Yes–I’m a rancher. I love the land, the cattle, and all the ideals and traditions wrapped up in a lifestyle running generations deep in my blood.
However, I’m also a writer, an observer. An artist with words as my paint and a keyboard as my brush.
When I let the busy and mundane parts of life outweigh the parts that fill my soul, I get stuck and crabby and uninspired to see or be the good.
All this is a long way around to say, I’ve been a bear for the past three weeks, and today, I’m going to change it!
On Halloween, my sweet friend Delila told me about a card project she and her three kids did one year. Instead of a traditional Advent calendar, they spent the Advent season writing to people in their community who were special or lonesome or in need. Tough, stoic Delila even got choked up recalling all the hugs and return correspondence her family received. She concluded by telling me, “It’s something you should write about.”
So, Delila, here it is!
In this time of divided, unsettling heaviness, consider moving your heart by merely moving your pen.
I’m committed to being online less and in life more. For me, that includes writing. If you would like to join the movement, here’s an Advent Writing Calendar to give you prompts and ideas throughout the Christmas season.