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You can find your rest here.

photo 2-3

I found peace yesterday, amongst the cacti and pepper trees in the courtyard of a 220-year-old church.

I sat by myself on an ornate, weathered bench outside the Mission San Juan Bautista, a slight breeze tickling my face as a few pompous feral roosters marched by. Soft Latin chamber music trickled from the church, but I didn’t go inside. I stayed in the garden, listening to songbirds and eucalyptus trees rustling in the wind.

While it’s warm like spring, a sunny 70 degrees, the bare roots of the rose garden remind me it’s still winter. A lone daffodil has stuck its big yellow nose out before its peers. It looked lonely.

I sat back and opened a book. This was my first day away from Baby G since quitting my job at the newspaper, and the first day ever I’ve spent a day away from Baby G that didn’t involve going to work. It was a day for me to do whatever I wanted, to remind myself that I am a person with thoughts and desires separate from the role I play each day in meeting the immediate needs of my little family.

I cleaned out my car for the first time in a year, and spent a few hours writing. Then without thinking too much, I drove to the tiny town of San Juan Bautista, a quirky Wild West village in the coastal valley about 10 miles south of where we live.

I walked the almost deserted streets and bought a turnover at the best local bakery, and tried to eat it slow but inhaled it in six bites. Then I meandered across town to a little cafe where I ate lunch by myself on the patio. It felt weird to walk without pushing a stroller.

The Mission was my last stop. With my belly full, car clean, and words written on a page, I was starting to feel human again already.

Every time I sit in the reverent, manicured grounds of the Mission courtyard, I get a nagging feeling I am trespassing, that I am in a place that is immensely too beautiful for my fleshly presence. Yesterday I was certain I was breaking some kind of rule as I loitered around with my black coffee in a paper cup, and a memoir, not the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer.

I’m not even Catholic.

A man walks by in jeans and a fleece vest. He makes note of my book, my coffee, and my relaxed, glowing face.

“I am the priest, and I want you to know you can find your rest here. Come back any time,” he said.

In that moment, I felt like I belonged somewhere.

So I read on in my book, and drank in the beauty around me and my increasingly cold cup of coffee. I didn’t check Twitter or worry about what was for dinner or how I’ll ever publish my book.

When was the last time you had a day like that?

As I’m unpacking a lot of … stuff, I’ve had depressed days, and days where my anxiety is so strong I feel a burning in my chest. It’s scary.

You can find your rest here.

I found God on that bench yesterday.

I’m uprooting my faith, and I’m figuring out how to love my daughter when I feel like I have no love to give. I’m often confused, angry, scared. Muddling through.

But God is here through it. He was there when I opened my Bible last week, only to have a panic attack. He was there when I left the church. He’s there when I sing “Jesus Loves Me” to Baby G quietly, over and over, believing it a little more each time. And sometimes not believing it at all.

And he was there on that bench, beckoning me.

We’re a part of a larger story, aren’t we? God has been here through all of it, with the saints and the screw-ups who went before us and all those who will come after us. None of this is new, none of it surprises him. My struggles are not uncharted territory, they just another chapter in God’s narrative. I belong.

You can find your rest here.

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5 Comments

  1. Lauren on January 29, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I loved this story–I felt myself calming down and taking a deep breath as I read along.

    “I am the priest, and I want you to know you can find your rest here. Come back any time,” he said.

    That is so cool.

    • creatingmom on January 30, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      I hope it gave you some peace in the middle of a rough week. I’ve been thinking about you this week.

  2. sabrina on January 30, 2014 at 12:10 am

    this is beautiful, carly.

    peace to you.

    • creatingmom on January 30, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Thanks Sabrina, I’m so glad to have reconnected. Peace to you!

  3. Stephanie on February 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I read this and cried. I know this story so well. Peace to you dear friend.

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