Where [there is] no wood, the fire goes out; And where [there is] no talebearer, strife ceases. ~ Pro 26:20 NKJV
There are six empty chairs ringing the campfire – the blue kind that fold up in a bag and push you forward in a lumpy ball so that good posture is impossible. I slouch from chair to chair in my escape from the smoke, reading on the Kindle app on my iphone and worrying that my camp neighbors think I’m texting or Facebooking.
Really. I worry about that stuff and I want to tell them I’M READING A BOOK QUIT JUDGING. There’s not even service available at our campsite, but I just hate myself for the sacrilege of electronic devices in the woods.
At the same time, it’s 5:45 a.m. on my vacation and I’m reading, so I think I’m fine. Most of the neighbors (side note: it seems wrong to have neighbors when you’re camping) are blearily stirring their own fires and thawing out.
For whatever reason contrary to nature, the smoke continually shifts and follows and I spend the morning chair-hopping to avoid it’s burn, continually refocusing on my book and stirring the same smoking fire.
That seems oxymoronic, which suits me and sums me up.
My husband has taken at least one child fishing every morning of our camping trip so far and this morning he’s out with our youngest. The three teens are doing what they do at 5:45 a.m., and I have the fire and the chairs and a kettle of hot water all to myself.
Daylight cracks us open in our tent and there are no lists, no schedules, relatively few chores. We’ll go fishing. We’ll go for a walk. We’ll get ice cream and do bumper boats and swim when it’s hot enough. All good things, all coming in whatever order we desire.
Lately, at home, I’ve been paying attention to my first thoughts in the morning and they have been along the lines of all the things I don’t want to do today.
I list them in my mind as I walk to the bathroom to shut off the alarm. I rehearse all the don’t-want-tos while I brush my teeth, fight off the ensuing attitude as I make the coffee, and I struggle to make quiet time anything more than a brief period of the morning where I read letters on a page.
It’s summer for crying out loud.
If I can’t be happy and content in the summer, when there are no lessons to prepare or papers to correct, no sports schedule to dictate my day, no rain to ruin my plans; when birds sing out my window and I’ve run out of vases and places for the dahlias; if I can’t wake up happy on a summer morning, what is my problem?
I wake up heavy and have to fight to remember that His burden is light, that the satisfying thing about work is that it leads to rest, and the satisfying thing about rest is that it leads to work.
I’m not unhappy and I don’t really have too much work to do – important work, but not too much of it. Nevertheless and contrary to nature, I have to move from place to place to escape my own Self.
I have to change positions to remember that God, Who is no respecter of persons and is wholly unimpressed by my efforts while still smitten with my soul, has an unchanging opinion about me.
I am my own smoke, my own discomfort, my own talebearer.
But it’s not all that bad, and I realize that 75% of my bad mood comes from being mad about having a bad mood. Sometimes things don’t wrap up into a tidy cause-effect-solution.
I despise feeling hostage to emotions or hormones or fatigue or whatever I choose to blame for my moods, but I also rejoice that I am dependent on God for my well-being and free to choose better things and tell myself a better tale.