Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: Thankful for The Pause

This is the loveliest time of the whole year.  Maybe even the loveliest day of the whole year. 

The sky is full of wispy white clouds that blend invisibly into the endless blue, and the wind falls down in gusts.  Nothing is standing still; everything shudders and rattles to the thrill of autumn’s rhythm.
On the blacktop road lies every color of leaf.  They are, allegedly, dead.  But to be alive with such color makes up for a shortcoming as insurmountable as death.  Even the brown leaves, dull when still clinging to a branch, are infused with brilliance as they mingle with golden ochre, ginger, and ruby on the ground. 
A burst of air kicks up a cluster of leaves where they rest.  But they don’t simply scatter away with incoherence; they move in tandem.  Maybe one or two started it, and the others in close proximity joined in the swirl.  They become a whirlwind.  A cyclone.  A burnt and crumbling rainbow of color, marking a path of what might be destruction.  Chaos, perhaps. 
But the circularity of their dance seems too inevitable for chaos.  It has to swirl.  It has to gain momentum.  What choice does it have?  The wind is its only master, and nothing can stop the wind once its mind has been made up.
Except a brick wall.  Or a parked car on the roadside.  Or even, innocently, a child’s foot, placed within the circumference of the windy swirl. 
Then suddenly, everything stops.  The cyclone melts away into a carpet of leaves once more.  Gusts may disturb them again, but never will the same group of neighbors make up that exact whirlwind.  It’s disbanded. 
The leaves can rest.


I'm bounding through the house in past-our-bedtime mode:
Pick out pajamas, gather tomorrow’s clothes, pick up those toys, the baby’s crying, the girls are being too loud in the bath tub, my eyes are burning, what time is it?, find the blankie, grab some towels, he’ll need a diaper, the phone is ringing, I forgot the laundry, Mia’s backpack!, ‘I’ll be right there’, the baby’s still crying, OUCH! (I stubbed my toe), please hurry, let’s go let’s go let’s go.
Then, in the hallway, my husband blocks my path.  He stares down at me without saying a word.  I try to move past him into the bedroom where there are things that need to be done before bedtime can happen, but he stretches one arm out to the wall, and I’m pinned.  I can feel the momentum building inside my chest – I have to move because I’m tired and the baby’s crying and the girls are up too late.  I need to keep going.  It’s a compulsion that I can’t control.  To slow down or (good Lord – don’t even think it -) stop my forward motion is almost painful. 
I sigh and raise my brow with irritation.  “What?”
But I already know what he’ll say, and he knows that I know.  So he says nothing.  Instead, he pulls me to his chest – trapped – and forces me to pause. 
I’m angry.  I hate it when he does this.  It’s a brick wall that I cannot escape.  A foot in my whirlwind, messing up my perfect circle of purpose.
But I turn my head and rest it on his heart.  He drops his face to my hair and I go limp inside, wrapping my restless arms around his waist.  I breathe in the scent of his skin; even under his shirt, even after a long day, even with the smell of soap and chaos still swirling around us, even then – the scent of his skin is enough to make me calm.
My eyes close.
The baby is still crying.  Someone is splashing with too much gusto in the bath tub.  Tomorrow’s clothes are still unchosen.
But I am still.  I have paused.  He has made me pause. 
When we move away from one another, towards our mutual but separate tasks, the carpet of necessary work is still under our feet.  There are still gusts of disturbance and motion, but I know – I promise –
that I will not become a whirlwind again.  Not tonight.  I will rest.  Things will get done. 
They always do.
And this might be the loveliest time of our whole lives.  Maybe even the loveliest day of our whole lives. 
So while our family shudders and rattles to the thrill of this season’s rhythm, I’m thankful for the chance to experience it.
I’m thankful for the pause.

Bigger Picture Moments this month are all about Gratitude. What simple things -- big or small -- are you thankful for? Write about them -- photograph them -- poeticize them -- list them -- and share them with us at Alita's place today. Grab the button and enjoy this time of thanksgiving as we encourage each other to experience life's blessings!


  1. That: was some fantastic writing.

  2. Oh, I love your intentional brick wall that is your husband. How amazing for him to see that you needed the pause...and the comfort. Beautiful post today, as always. :)

  3. oh my goodness, what a beautiful bit of writing Sarah. I've so been there, in the whirlwind. And I've so been there, too, in the forced pause (similar husbands, i think?), and that place of gratitude. maybe i'm in a hormonal, emotion moment right now, but this post seriously brought tears to my eyes. thank you for sharing this bit of your soul.

  4. Just the best! Such a powerful image tying it to the swirling leaves. And absolutely universal. Who among us has not been so caught up in getting things done that we haven't needed a wonderful brick wall like this?

  5. Whoa. So good. Man, I wish I could write like this! And you do it with a newborn!

  6. This is lovely, Sarah. I liked the bit about the foot messing up "my perfect circle of purpose."

    And well done for crafting such beauty in the midst of the whirlwind!

  7. Pretty sure this is one of my favorite things you've ever written. I have so few words ... but now that I'm left with beauty and love overflowing.

  8. The swirl can seem beautiful or treacherous. I love that you accept the call to stop. I'm terrible at that.

    Have a calm and gorgeous evening.

  9. Sounds like you have a fabulous husband. Beautifully written, my friend.

  10. Thinking about this as a piece of writing, this post was great. Your imagery was rich, your metaphor was unexpected, your pacing was perfect, and your feelings were palpable.


    Thinking about this as a message from a friend, I'm so glad to know you have something safe and steady and solid during all this transition. You deserve it, Sarah: the wild, joyful children, the baby who needs you, the husband who wants to take care of you, and all the love.

    Just lovely.

  11. I love this, Sarah! Thank you for the much-needed reminder to pause.

  12. This was beautiful. Your husband, he's a genius.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?