I am getting sick. There is a pesky almost-cough hovering the back of my throat. My eyelids feel tired and droop below their normal height. I woke up from six restless hours of sleep wondering why there was so much talk of leaving. It's tomorrow. It's tomorrow. I have arrived at the culminating moment of departure and friends, my body is waging war against the idea. It wants nothing but to curl up on this semi-comfortable couch and hide from anything remotely related to AirTran 807 Baltimore (BWI) - Logan (BOS).
So instead of packing my suitcase, instead of finding my lone sock or finally clearing things out from under the bed, I am sitting on said uncomfortable couch and practicing sign language. You see, I am clinging to the moments of the semester where I have felt most myself, most alive, most peaceful. Sign language, the physical embodiments of the words I love (and write) so often and so dearly, has become a place of peace for me as I contemplate leaving.
So YouTube plays me praise music and I practice. Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me... Beautiful One, I love... My God is mighty to save. I practice these phrases over and over with my hands, making signs for "beautiful" and "soul" and "savior" with a kind of hopeful desperation. I cling to sign language because I have become so much more of myself in learning to speak with my hands, in learning to love words when they are not spoken but created in the air. I practice, and I sign. I sit in the still of this living room that soon will no longer be mine... and there it is: a glimmer of peace, a glimmer of becoming ready to go home, a knowledge that God is good, and in my voice and in my hands, I can proclaim that goodness.
Today is a busy day - coffees scattered between more official meetings and final outings - and I can feel my need to "do something" taking over my desire to simply be in the space I am in for one last moment and one last day. A good friend told me in a letter that "a thing is mighty big if time and distance cannot shrink it." (Zora Neale Hurston first said so, but I can hear my friend saying it as well). Her words are true, and it is my hope that this semester, the people, the places, the work... are big enough to withstand the impending time and distance pulling me away.
So, in these moments, when we are paralyzed by a desire to fill our days running around and to do nothing, I am choosing to sign, and to sing. I choose to lift my voice in its quivering way, with Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson in "Winter Song." I choose to learn the signs to sing "Grace Like Rain" with my hands. I choose to pause, to seek peacefulness, to let my voice and hands and heart unite. I choose to trust that this semester is a mighty big thing, that my friendships here are mighty big things, and that the joy of God Himself is a mighty big thing, that neither time nor distance nor trial nor fear can shrink.
For those we Love
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy
never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come,
knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we
can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.