The sky is gray -- it's November again.
And this November has swept through with a vengeance.
Not only is it cold (and is it ever), but it comes bearing our show and -- what is, for me, more momentous -- the looming due date of my graduate school applications.
I'm keeping my head down these days, trying to produce good work.
There's no harm in that, is there? In good work? In wanting to produce things that are beautiful?
Ora et labora, the Benedictine monks say: Pray and work.
I'll admit, I've been kinda light on the prayer part recently. There's a lot of work going on.
We are not sleeping well.
We are tired.
I got five and a half hours of sleep last night. While that's not at all what I want for the rhythm of my life, that is the normal for this season.
My friends are afraid. I can feel it in their bones. In the aftermath of the election that just passed, some are defiant, some are quiet, yet I can feel the fear. I can sense that we have been lacerated by the vitriol of the last months of 2016. I bear the scars myself -- a mark on my heart.
We are tired of bitterness, but we are also tired.
We all feel like someone beat us, took our lunch money, and left us by the side of the road. And we are looking up at the sky, achy, slightly bruised in places. We do not have the energy to stand.
The November clouds overhead remind us of ourselves: gray, thin, wispy at the edges. Straggling.
We are afraid and we are wary and we are sad. We are working so so hard, but all we would really like to do is sleep, rest, allow ourselves to be renewed. We are quiet. We have bags under our eyes.
We are tired.
Yes, November has swept through with a vengeance.
The cold wind stings our skin a little bit. We sink a little deeper into our jackets. I've finally been able to wear scarves again, and I wrap it a little tighter around my neck.
But then I notice something.
The cold sends a tingle out along my limbs, into my fingers and toes and nails. Gooseflesh rises on my arms and legs, and I hear it --
The cold cry of the North.
Of the Wild.
I have two and a half jobs, and I'm in a show, and I'm trying to apply for graduate school, and I can hear the wildness of God calling out to me to Look up.
Remember who you are.
Remember Who I Am.
And it comes back to me, like a stab of pure air through the grime that clouds my eyes --
I am free, and I am bold, and I am adventurous.
Maybe right now Adventure looks like trying again where I thought I had no hope.
Maybe it looks like being the hands and feet of Jesus in my everyday Work with a capital W.
Maybe it looks like sleeping a little longer.
Maybe it looks like writing in the cracks of my time, for the simple reason that I need to be reminded who I am and Who God Is.
My identity is not in this work.
My identity is in who Jesus says I am.
And Jesus says I am a warrior maiden, a princess, an adventurer.
He says I am everything I've always felt myself to be, in my deepest heart of hearts, because who do we think spoke that into us in the first place?
We feel fear, but we are not afraid. We are tired, but You are our strength.
You are all our Hope.
This is what adventure stories are made of.
I drive east down the highway to rehearsal. It's only 6:30 pm, but sun is setting already.
The sky above me is a rich velvet navy speckled with dusky clouds and white gems that we call stars. I am nearly blinded by headlights and taillights on all sides. I have cranked up the heat because I am perpetually cold these days.
In my car, there are two temperature settings: really, really cold or really, really hot.
And I am overcome by the nature of God in the November sky -- that renegade Texas sky that burns in embers behind me and fades into sparkle ahead of me.
Because, you see, even darkness has shimmer.
I flick on my radio and I listen to the sound pouring out of it and all I can do is sing along: Alleluia.
For the work I am doing, the life I am leading, the fact that at this moment I am driving to rehearsal. For sleep, for food, for exercise, for music, for my voice, for singing. For my friends, my coach, my teacher, my coworkers. For Tolkien and adventure and words in French. For Handel and Mozart and both the Strausses. For journals and books and words and the fact that I'm driving down the road under the rebel Texas sky.
No matter where I live in the world, there will never be a sky like this one.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
We are tired, and we are aching, and we are praising still, because this is our adventure, and it is worthy of story and song.
It is better than we had dreamed.