I woke this morning to my dogs calling me from their crates. Correction: I woke to Maisie, our two-year-old Golden calling to me from her crate. The occasional cross between a yip and a whine told me that I had fallen back asleep and had slept too long for her taste. I’d been up for some hours in the night woken by an anxiety that threatened. This past night though, I had recognized it for the temptation it was to take up a mantle of dark fear that was not mine to wear. I was too tired to wrestle with the spiritual assault. (That is what is was, friends. Even laden with some truth as to the circumstances of my life, it was a spiritual attack to entice me into the land of worry.) Too sleepy to corral my thoughts to the deeper truth of the faithfulness of God, I did not want to wake fully. I did not feel called to do so. This night, unlike too many other nights, I simply rolled over and said, “No,” and tucked my heart into God and continued to rest. I redirected my thoughts first to sweet memories, then to memories I wanted to make, and suddenly Maisie was calling to me. Surely it is well after 6:00 a.m. Sweet and poor girl, I looked at the clock and it was 8:00! I quickly got up to let both dogs out to run outside and take care of business.
When I opened the door to release them to bound outside, a cold blast hit my face. It was a crisp cold. A winter cold. A cold that spoke of past snow and past stories. I recognized a smell that I hadn’t for years. Though the winter here is full of crisp, cold mornings, something in the wind or perhaps something in the night had awakened a stirring in my soul. I remembered that evocative smell, that feeling, that invitation to play.
Suddenly I was eight years old and wearing my favorite blue and white jacket with fur around the hood. I was a little girl again, getting ready to go outside and discover the joy awaiting me. I hadn’t remembered that feeling or that jacket since I don’t know when. Sense memory is something else, isn’t it, showing up at the oddest of times whenever the whim hits it? The sense of smell accesses and evokes memories more than any other.
This morning I was still in my jammies when I opened the front door and the longing to be eight years old again with a front door open before me to a world filled with wonder and unending discovery swept over me. Back then I had different choices. Maybe I’d go sledding with the neighbors. Maybe we’d build a snowman. Maybe I would simply enjoy walking solitarily through the snow, relishing the crisp sound of crunching whiteness beneath my feet. I’ve always liked times alone even as a child.
My soul was filled with expectancy that morning so long ago. I did not know what the day held, but I reached out to it boldly with both mittened hands. I dashed out into the day not certain of what I would find but certain that it was worth finding.
This morning, I remembered that feeling. I remembered the eager anticipation that defined my heart. I remembered answering the invitation to live expectantly with an affirmative. To live without fear. I chose that then and this very morning, I had the opportunity to choose it again. I had the opportunity to choose it in the middle of this past night, and I am going to have a hundred of opportunities to choose it today.
I pray to choose it. I pray that I will allow the memory to have its way with my heart. I pray to become that hope-filled, expectant-of-good child again and for God to use it to cleanse me of cynicism, doubt, and fear—all thieves of the joy that is mine to know.
I do not know what today will hold, but the fresh fragrance that enveloped me at the front door reminded me that I can be a woman of faith who welcomes it.