The days start out cool and crisp, no frost yet but each morning teeters on the verge of ice. The sun is low and lazy and sleeps in these days, taking hours to warm up. By the time I am through with school, with dishes, with putting something in the oven to slow cook for dinner, the sun has climbed high and warmed the yard with yellow light. I am here again, up high on a silver ladder speckled with various colors of paint in layers that track the projects we’ve done over the years. I’ve been up here forever. So many afternoons spent scraping and cleaning and spackling and priming and now, painting…it seems like this project has been going on for as long as I can remember, and will be going on forever. This would normally bother me, but there is a peace about it that I can’t explain. The hours I have been spending on this project seem to be set apart somehow, separate from the usual flow of life. I feel like I am in my own world out here, high on the ladder with blue sky above and the sun falling warm on my back. I am alone here with my thoughts, and I have nothing to do but paint and let my mind drift, listen to myself think. How long has it been since I last took time to do that? It takes a bucket of paint, a ladder and a huge project to get me to slow down, to converse with myself and pay attention to where I am. I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, I am doing what has to be done. And these hours painting the exterior of the house…laying fresh paint over thirsty, chipped clapboard…are also covering a need within, a need for quiet, for introspection, for covering a thirsty soul with prayer and thought and solitude.
The afternoon wears on, I hear the neighbor’s dog bark. I feel surrounded by blue, enveloped in the warm afternoon sun and the cloudless azure sky and the rhythm of painting, smooth and easy. For the first time in a long time my mind is empty, quiet, the mental equivalent of how my muscles feel after a good long run. A car door slams, a bird is calling from the tree near me and for a moment I feel at home here, level with the birds in the trees. I have to remind myself that I am this high up, to step back down the ladder. For a moment I feel as though I could walk right out, six feet above the ground, walk through the deep blue sky with the warm sun falling all around and touch the tops of crimson trees.
Writing from where you are….In, on, and around Monday at LL. Barkat’s Seedlings in Stone