Tag Archives: Mental Health

Courage at Twilight: Putting Away the Lights

Mom announced it was time to bring in the pine wreaths and Christmas lights. Being the second week of January, I suppose she was right.  The temperature dropped quickly as the sun dipped behind the Oquirrh mountains, and I got to work.  I gently pulled the light strings off the bushes and rolled them into balls.  Dad and I had wrapped each plug in black electrical wire.  He was quite proud that the lights did not short out even once in six weeks of rain and melting snow.  Now, I unwrapped the brittle black tape and rolled the strings into balls, stowing them in the light tote, consigned to the basement until next November.  Coiling the extension cords came next.  As I worked in a race with the fading daylight and growing cold, my angers and jealousies and heartaches crowded in upon my mind, shouting their false and hostile narratives.  I did not feel strong enough to change my self-talk, and shifted tactics.  I begin to sing, standing there on the busy street corner coiling lights.  Not just any song, but a song that could chase away my dark thoughts and replace them with light and tenderness.  I sang the beloved children’s primary song, I’m Trying To Be Like Jesus.  I know only the first verse, so sang it again and again and again, shutting out the dark voices.  I was able to finish my chores and enter the house with a smile.  Here are the lyrics:

I’m trying to be like Jesus.  I’m following in his ways.

I’m trying to do as he did in all that I do and say.

At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,

But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers:

Love one another as Jesus loves you;

Try to show kindness in all that you do;

Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,

For these are the things Jesus taught.

Courage at Twilight: On Edge

I live my days on the edge of anxiety, tense, waiting for the next unexplained bump or clang, in fear of the next fall, tense, nodding with sleep at my desk but ready to jump into action at the slightest premonition.  The garage door opens, and I start at the sound, knowing Dad has ventured into the yard to clip or rake or hoe or mow or fertilize, and the temperature is 95 degrees, the sky cloudless, tool handles too hot to touch, the grass rotting and pungent in the can.  My personal spiritual pursuit is to cultivate trust, a trust that life is beautiful and good, a trust that I can improve my character and mind, a trust that truth and goodness will prevail as often as possible, a trust that God is real and loves infinitely and actively, that he redeems and pays personal attention and dispenses mercy abundantly to all who want it.  That is my labor.  I feel tired.  I’m going to go check on Dad.