Smoke from all the fires burning in northern California has made the sky red and orange, turned the setting sun into a vibrant, hot pink ball, and hidden the hills entirely. At first I could smell it, like a campfire, especially when I was inside my car. I don’t know if I’m used to it or if it’s just broken down enough to not smell anymore, but all it does now is hang over the valley like fog that’s been swept from the dirtiest corner imaginable.
[Poorly-written, depression-related paragraph removed to spare your tender eyeballs. You are welcome.]
Last Sunday at church, the religious ed teacher brought in a labyrinth (classical style) for the kids to walk. It was drawn with black marker on a big, thick, white tarp that she unrolled across the floor. She surrounded it with folding chairs, and ran a pretty barricade of yarn all around the chairs to keep people from stepping inside and onto the labyrinth with their shoes on. After church, the kids were milling about, eating cake. Sophie got herself a cup of decaf coffee. I kicked off my shoes, stepped over the yarn, and walked the labyrinth a couple of times, from start to end, end to start. Even surrounded by people, some of them on the loud side, I felt totally separate and alone as I walked the path with my hands out like airplane wings. I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say that I was meditating, even though I was thinking. It was like thinking with a brain suspended in cotton balls instead of whatever else it’s usually floating in. Funny how much clearer that imagined insulation makes everything.
I’ve relearned a few things this week that I already knew: people are always capable of surprising you, for good or for ill; you never know just how things will pan out; and, it is always a good idea to keep at least one foot firmly on the ground, because it’s sometimes easy to get carried away when the rest of you is floating off somewhere pretty. Also, it is important to remember to breathe.