street bird

I found a bird on the sidewalk at sunrise this morning. It wasn't dead, but I think it may be by now. I mean, it wasn't in very good shape. The little thing was breathing all heavy and its little body was quivering, feathers all puffed up and ruffled. It could have been that it was in quite a bit of pain. I stooped down to get a better look at it and it didn't budge, except that its little eyes were darting all over. The expression on its face reminded me of a very old and grumpy man. I guess maybe that's what he was.


so tired

And there are many kinds of tiredness, many types of exhaustion. I realized yesterday that I am tired, and I can feel it dragging into today, stretching on into tomorrow. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually… Maybe not all at once. That’s an awful lot, but I guess if you’re physically exhausted or mentally stressed, emotions begin to jitter. It’s part of that holistic sense of self. Every bit a spiritual action, every concrete event, every smile or tear, every fire and misfire of the brain, all of it echoes in the spirit.

Sometimes I sigh. I let out one of those big exhales that tells more than I even realize. A lot of times I don’t even notice that I’ve done it. And people will say, “That was a heavy sigh.” And I say, “Oh. Really?” “Yes, it was. Are you all right?” That’s when I have to stop and think and I begin to realize that yes, maybe I am very tired. It’s a chance to look inwards and realize what I have done, why I feel so heavy. Usually it only takes a moment to say, “I guess I’m tired.” But sometimes it’s more than just tiredness...

The expression “bone-weary” is an interesting one. I guess it means that you’re so tired that you can feel it all the way down to your bones; even your bones are weary. That would probably be the physical type of tired. A couple weeks ago I felt bone-weary after having too little sleep and too much activity playing hours of paintball. I couldn’t walk right for almost a week, all my muscles seized up and I had to lock my legs in order to walk. Crouching was especially difficult, but it felt great once I got down there. Problem was getting up again. I had to put all my weight forward on my hands, kind of like a chimp, and then straighten my legs and let my torso follow. Anyway, the night I got home from paintball I fell into bed around eight o’clock and slept through until about eight the next morning. That’s how I think of bone-weary.

I guess you could have a “brain-weary” and “feel-weary” and “soul-weary,” too. Brain-weary would probably be like after exams at the end of a full year of school. Come to think of it, this last year, after exams in April, I had about a month of brain-weary, so much so that I lost any sense of appropriateness. Not that I wandered about spouting profanity in front of children or telling all my secrets to strangers on the bus. But I did lose that sense of when I’d said too much or how to connect my thoughts. I felt a little emotionally spent and a big part of it was not being able to think in a straight line. They say that if you drive when you’re tired, it’s the same as if you’d had a few too many drinks. Judgment impediments and all. Well, that’s what the end of April and most of May felt like, a drunken walk. And then one day, I got dumped out the other end.

“Feel-weary” is a little harder. I don’t get there quite so easily. I suppose relationally, it happens every once in awhile. I get a panicky sense of claustrophobia, like someone is holding me too closely, and I just have to walk away, leave the day and leave the person(s) behind. Wander off on my own and let the thoughts settle. Sometimes sitting in church I get that rippling feeling up my spine, like a physical restlessness and I just want to move along. Somebody once said that it was the spirit (Spirit?) rustling and I really like that idea. I hold onto it when I feel like running away because otherwise I just might. And that’s not even it, because feeling restless isn’t feeling tired. No, I guess there have been times when the restlessness died away. A few years back I went through a deep, dark time — like the dark night of the soul — and I would wake up late and stumble through my days, and then go to bed early, just tired of feeling.

Maybe you’ve been so tired that funny things start to happen in your body. Like when the carpet squiggle starts to squirm and you think you’ve just seen a bug. Or you start to get itchy in a dozen different places all of a sudden. Maybe your eyes un-focus a little bit and begin to act like you don’t need the glasses that are sitting on your nose. Or right after a cup of coffee your eyes begin to close and you feel drowsy like you will sleep anywhere, just so long as you get to sleep.

And to be soul-weary seems to be a little bit of all of these things, something that weighs on your heart, soul, and mind. It begins to feel like the only way out is to surrender to the exhaustion and to sleep. You put aside all the worries and concerns, joys and pleasures, and you sleep. It is when you give up being in charge of your life and you put yourself into the hands of night, as Frederick Buechner says, “when you trust yourself to the same unseen benevolence to see you through the dark and to wake you when the time comes—with new hope, new strength—into the return again of light.” Maybe that’s what the call is all about: Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead...