The weight of it. The way it digs into my shoulders, pressing on my bones. My back is bent from the strain, my knees bowed. I am stretched thin and my heart is bruised.

It’s my own weakness. It’s the burden of my children’s disappointments. It’s the sadness that crept in to our home. It’s the strain of disconnection from beloved family and friends. It’s the collective pain coating our world. I am wearing it all.

I have tried to take it off. I have practiced gratitude, I have waxed angry and waned disappointed, I have planned and prayed. I have sipped and I have slept. But still the weight remains. And I feel like a failure because if I wholly trusted God, if I left the weight with Him, I would be walking light, unburdened by these troubled days.

So I contemplate Job. When his last servant uttered his final word, Job did something we still do when we are hit with heavy news. He simply sat down. The fires of destruction left a pile of ashes and Job sat right down in the middle of it.

I’ve not been one to respond in kind. When I fall, whether by internal or external force, I spring back up, scanning quickly to see if anyone has witnessed my failure. I stand up straighter, ready to hold everyone together. No time to sit. Not time to sit.

I will perhaps dip a toe in, or scribble a few words in the soot. But to dwell there long enough to feel the lingering heat, to let the remnants of spent flame penetrate my skin and discover that the charcoal has changed me – that is not how I’ve lived.

But what if that’s what God intends? What if pausing in the mess is part of the story? To mingle ash with bone and cultivate a soil even richer than I ever imagined? What growth am I missing out on because I’m always rushing on?

I pull on shame like a heavy blanket on a cold night. There is comfort in it somehow. Why do I feel guilt in taking time – enough time – to feel and press in to melancholy? To acknowledge loss and to reflect on impact, to ponder meaning and to treasure both the summit and the valley? Perhaps there is a bolstering of my own pride when I rise to the occasion, stand tall, keep moving. I fear the consequences of taking a time out. I fear letting others down. I fear letting myself down. Does the hill grow taller while I stand still? What sequelae am I inviting while I indulge in the dirt?

I watch the flakes swirl and cover the frozen ground. It strikes me as a kind of frozen ash, sending us inside to wait for Spring. I think it’s beautiful how the seasons have lessons teach us if we are willing to observe. So I tuck in to the wait, and close my eyes.