I am lost. The weird thing about this lost, however, is that I am lost in the most familiar places – my home, my relationships, my life. One thing has changed, but that one thing has changed everything. Lost is a place too, a place of feeling unsettled, disoriented, disconnected. My preference is to be found, to feel comfortable, clear, and connected.
Several years ago, when I think we only had one strapped in a car seat in the back, we got lost after dark on our way to my sister’s acreage for the first time. We turned down endless back roads, each of them looking familiar, but none bringing us to the right place.
It was dark, and muddy. We were lost in a place that was familiar to me and new for Marc. We had an insufficient map, no smart phone or GPS. We were tired. The roads are a grid system, I spoke aloud from my farm girl upbringing, as much for me as for Marc. We’ll either find where we are going or hit a correction line or a highway, and we will be found.
Maybe because I like puzzles, I switch into lost gear pretty easily on the roads. Ignore the clock. Try a turn. Acknowledge a mistake. Embrace the not knowing. Ask for help. Blind navigation is decidedly different that traveling from one known place to another. Our eyes were on the gas tank with each turn, not knowing if we were getting closer to the destination or further away. And we made it, eventually.
The lost task is simply to move through and rest in the lost. The place we are is the place from which we will be found. And when applied to the rest of my life, this is easy to say and much harder to do; it often feels like a kind of dying for me.
This season of lost has been full of summer adventures, lots of nights in the beds of gracious hosts, water and sand, and big emotions. When we arrived home from our summer camping trip, I began the detox process of trying to return our family to a normal routine. I lasted four hours. With a deep breath, and an imagined white flag, I surrendered to the lost. New priority: as much peace, rest, and lack of resistance as possible.
The paint on the walls is the same colour. We are eating the same food. The bikes still take us out to the park a few times a week. But there are shoes and unpacked bags from last month’s adventures sitting by the doors. The laundry is not getting done with any predictability. My little guy has been picking through folded-but-not-put-away laundry baskets for clean underwear for more than a week – and we have reset the counter more than once.
Where I once had lists and plans, I have vague ideas of what needs to get done, and most of it gets addressed only when it must. I am learning to accept that the rest doesn’t matter. It feels like failure for this recovering perfectionist. It feels like drifting aimlessly, with none of the adventure from that dark muddy nights with the security of grid roads.
Unsettling as it feels, however, the skills from the road trip are transferable. Ignore the clock. Try something. Forgive a mistake. Resist the need to know. Phone a friend and ask for help. My people are doing the same, in the house and in their own houses, and the mess looks different as we all navigate our way through the lost.
This lost place, this lost season. It holds the route to the next one. Messy rooms and too much TV and choosing peace and rest will allow us to survive until the next season emerges, until clarity breaks through the fog. There will be seasons ahead where we have more focus, seasons for a routine, for discipline, for pursuing goals. Lost is not that place.
And lost is not the problem. My preference not to be here is the problem. And my barefoot, spiritual solution is to note my preference and ignore it. For now, surviving this hour and this day is enough. A spirituality of survival is teaching me to let go, to surrender, to once again stop trying to hold it together. It feels unfamiliar and shallow, but I suspect that the messy counters and unbathed kids are part of the correction line, a deep well from which found will flow, eventually.
Photo Credit: Katherine Siebert
“Lost” has been a frequent companion – actually “lost” still shows up at the most unexpected times. The invitation has been to TRUST loss until it hands over its truth. One profound experience of mine happen on a sabbatical year in Boston. We were on a bus returning from admiring the autumn foliage. It was very dark. The trees were like stalwart witnesses bowing gently as we moved to the soft purr of motor through the dark. Each in their own private quiet place of savoring beauty and …. My own experience was a mystical experience of “lost” where I knew I was “safe”. I knew then that there is “safe” in “lost”. And I wait to hear with almost inaudible whisper: “All shall be well…. received… wait…you are safe!”
LOVING KINDNESS BLESSINGS,
Thanks for the blessings. I resonate with this idea that lost is safe. I just resist it so much that I have to constantly remind myself that this place is okay, that God is here in it with me…
One foot in front of the other…one step at a time…these are not judgements or suggestions for those who are in a time of struggle, they are suggesting that a person can move by placing a foot “one” forward. From little on we learn to count and we start with “one”. How old are you? I am “one”!
How can you measure your successes now? By the “one.”
When you walk with Jesus and he carries you, there is “one” set of footprints. You are not broken. You are not in the abyss. You are simply scaled back to the beginning. Each one of you will take a few steps. The kids will become busy with school and their attention will turn outward.
You are a woman of great heart, of great depth, of great interest and of Christian belief. Your heart is full and the pain you feel is the stretch of change…to carry everything forward all at once. Have “one” more look at your scripture to see what God offers to do for you and your burdens. Then remember what little kids do when they count. If they make a mistake, they start over again…all the way to the beginning. “One.” As a multi-tasking perfectionist it must be amazing to see all the balls perfectly flying through the air! But again, it starts with “one.” Don’t forget the value of “one,” it has equal value to number ten! (like if they were all numbered balls in the air!) When you get there, you will see how amazing you were at “one.” Sending love!
One moment at a time has been my mantra all summer! Thanks for the love.
Adeline and Deb are correct!! Awe Leah!! Love how you put it.. I have no doubt we are all lost at times, but I am learning to be lost together with others and how to support each other in this journey of winds and turns going through this world. lost, but not alone… HE is with us always and as said above He is carrying us through it. That is the ONE ness with Him and that is the peace in my confusion and “lost”ness! And I am learning this is ok and making it well with my soul. I pray you are and will too. I feel my season of “lost’ has been draggin on like our prairie winters, but I am also reminded that even that shall pass and the new season will one day come… meanwhile I wait… God bless and keep you and may His peaceful presence always be felt among you and your family.
So grateful we can wait together, Ramona. Continuing to pray for you and your family in grief as well.
Thank you Leah.
Always in our Queen of Angels hearts!! Hope your summer was great.
Leah, I am finding your articles so very powerful. Your words and how you use them to describe a moment in time, your reflections, feelings, and thoughts reach me in a way nothing else I have ever read has, even though our backgrounds and situations are so different.
I am grateful for how they move me and give me hope. Thank you.
Diane, this is one of the most touching compliments I’ve ever received. I’m grateful to know my words are making a difference in your world, and grateful for the way that people can be connected across different experiences and lives. Sending you love.