Dory the Israelite Explorer
Rock Pile Remembering
The bible has some weird stuff in it. (Man puts all animals except dinosaurs and unicorns on a large wooden boat, woman eating an apple = bad, etc…)
But one of the stories I love in the Good Book is the Israelites making rock altars to signify time and time again how God provided for them (something they routinely forgot and constantly whined about) on their trek through the desert.
(I mean can you blame them, really? A 40-year desert vacay is not my idea of a good time.)
Heres’s how it went: God would say “I’ll take care of you, my children, here’s some bread. But don’t hoard it or it will mold. I’ll give you more bread tomorrow.”
Then the Israelites would be like “Hallelujah, we love bread!” And they’d build an altar of stone as a little reminder dotting the dessert, basically saying “Here was where God provided.”
But then, after a while, the descendants of Abraham would be like “Soooooooo, about that whole ‘don’t hoard the bread’ thing…..Can’t I save just a liiiiiiiiitle bread for tomorrow, Abba? Moldy bread is better than nooooo bread, Abba! What happens if you forget about the whole bread thing? I mean I trust you but I reaaaaaaaallllly like bread…” —all said while surreptitiously hiding stale manna in the folds of their robes or whatever.
Then the bread would mold, they’d wail and riot in equal parts about their own folly and God’s rigid sovereignty, and bitch about how carbs are so basic anyway and what they REALLY want is the meat they ate when they were slaves in Egypt and God would go “Ugh, fine, I’ll rain down bird flesh-food from the sky, but don’t horde it,” and then the whole cycle would start again.
Trust. Receive. Doubt. Repent. Rejoice. Remember. Trust. Receive. Rinse and Repeat.
The truth is, I identify with the short memory of Moses’ people. I see myself in a solid mistrust of an outside, invisible authority or an outcome that I can’t control.
But I also understand the scrambling, optimistic attempts to believe in good coming out of the unpredictable. I am a Dory the Explorer Israelite—she of the mingled mistrust and 60-second memory and willful wanting to happily move on, circumstances be damned.
Anyway, I said a couple of weeks ago I wanted to share some of my lazy mental health tips, and this is one of them.
When I’m feeling anxious, or scared, or feel myself on the edge of a vulnerability vortex, I build some rock altars in my mind of the times that things worked out.
I think about how I couldn’t find a place to live in Portland for MONTHS when I moved here in 2006, and how much I cried about it, and how much I stressed, and how much I was like WTF GOD OMYOU and how I eventually settled in the sweetest spot that was—and continues to be—a countless blessing to me in memories and friendships and goodtimes galore.
I think about my struggle to release music in the early days, only to have a relative stranger-turned-my-life-long friend Dallas Kruse offer to record me for free, and my college friend Dan Baker donate to make the CD duplication happen.
And, um, here is that album and you can still buy it to support Les Arts, if ya want.
I think about that job that I got that I wanted, or how I got to open for Jewel, or a gift that turned my life around, or how a parking spot opened up right when I was on the verge of meltdown, or the time I got a kind word from a friend in the mail just when I needed it most.
Even painful circumstances can be rock altars if you’ve come through them.
2020 was a bitch, and I still feel the rippling echoes of hurts from things that happened and the trauma of going through the lowest lows that I ever low-ed. But I’m standing here on the other side. That’s surely worth a rock altar of remembering.
When my anxiety-brain is screaming “DANGER! MAYBE NOTHING WILL WORK AND YOU WILL DIE ALONE IN A GUTTER!” it doesn’t just work to reply “No, everything will work.” I have to recall specific examples of things working out. Something about re-living those moments re-balances the equilibrium in my brain, and provides an answering perspective of peace and possibility to the despairing dread.
What are YOUR go-to rock altars of remembering that give you perspective? I’d love to hear them.
THREE GOOD THINGS
Trader Joe’s fall goodies are upon us. Go forth to eat, drink, and smell all the pumpkin things. (And tell me your faves, porfa.)
The Great British Baking Show is back! If you haven’t seen any of the numerous seasons, whatcha been doing every year? It’s like a hot tea and biscuit for your soul, warms ya right up. (Fingers crossed they don’t try to make brownies this year, though…)
Need some uplifting content to consume as you wash those dishes or do that garden task you’ve been putting off? Tiny Victories is a bite-size podcast that celebrates the small wins in other people’s lives, so you can do the same thing with the ones in yours.
Want to do a neat thing and support THE ANNIEGRAM?