Thursday, January 6, 2011


Henry Holliday Woodcarving illustrating demonic attack on a person's thoughts

Most humans find time to inject stress into their lives.

Some stress is good and necessary, like physical exercise.   Running puts the body under physical pressure to perform in a way that usually benefits a person's heart by cleansing the blood with cardio-vascular activity.  Most stress is totally unnecessary, and self-inflicted teaspoonfuls at a time to a boiling pot that eventually boils over.

Here in Johannesburg, there is a given that people take "holiday" during the December and January heatwave where most residents run to the beach or mountains for a cooling or beautifully picturesque escape from their usually busy lives.   The Joburg culture is so close to the American treadmill that it is familiar...and not even a little threatening to Mario or me.

The truth is...God didn't intend our lives to be like this.  Stress (even good stress) has its place in our lives, but it's not meant to be the thing that makes us scream to escape.  Escaping our lives is impossible, and at the very honest pinnacle, when we're overwhelmed,  it's something we all want to do.

We've just come out of the said "holiday" season here.  We didn't go anywhere...just stayed home and held down the fort while all the other elders went away.  Still, Joburg got calm...still.  Traffic eased up.  The church office was a place for flip-flops.  We set our schedules to include relaxing spurts...and naps.  Workouts were unusually relaxed.  At some point I felt guilty for taking it so easy.

So today, as we prepared for a wedding tomorrow and the upcoming Sunday, I felt the pot boiling again inside.  It made me think of the upcoming rummage sale I was supposed to coordinate...the upcoming party and advertising deadlines.  Mario was clicking away at the computer and I could feel Freddie Mercury and David Bowie start my theme music in the kitchen.

Mario giddily tapped away at the wedding preach, and looked up at me.  "Hey," he said, "After this, we're kind of free, right?" He was thinking of the relaxed schedule giving way to three days of "no schedule".  What was he talking about??  Couldn't he hear the creaking avalanche of activity above our heads??

"Actually, I was just thinking of the Rummage sale I was supposed to coordinate," I said, getting a juice glass down from the cabinet. (Did I mention I'm also on a diet??  Holiday fat creeps up on me.)

Mario groaned, and the smile left him.  "What do you think? Does that sound like fun?"  Mario's sarcasm masks his disappointment.  I shrugged and said "Well, I'm okay, I knew it was coming."

This gave way to asking about our stuff for sale...if we wanted to invite the church to participate in bringing stuff to sell from their house (I'm also supposed to coordinate a phone bank of people getting addresses...I forgot about that) or if the church just wanted to sell off what we didn't take in the move.

I reached for unsalted, un-anything-ed almonds.  "Oh, yeah, that's a good idea." Do you want some nuts??"  Mario shook his head.  "Not now," and returned to his work.

Stress is the result of my mother's mother's mother's mother's (and so on)  hunger for that strange forbidden fruit.  I think some historians say it was quince.  Quince isn't worth it.

Eve never had  to diet.  Never had stress.  Never had to worry if she looked fat in the clothes she never had to wear...and there were no other women to tempt her husband around...anywhere.  Until she ate that fruit.

Retreating to bed now... and I pray that 2011 is void of all the unecessary stress that can tip over my apple cart.  I'm committed to making it manageable??

Who's with me??

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