Memento Mori

We were in Florida recently for my brother’s wedding, staying at a friend’s house, and I wound up in the emergency room with tremendous chest pain the night before we flew home. It was just inflammation in my lungs from the virus I’d had all week (and, I believe, my failure to rest like I was supposed to), but I thought I was having a heart attack. Since I was fully conscious, triage put me further down the emergency list, and I had plenty of time to lament to poor Ed how much I still wanted to do before leaving this life.

Did I write all the books and stories and essays I wanted to write? Did I love Ed well enough, and spend enough quality time with him? Did I inspire and encourage people enough? Will they remember me as a valuable life? Did I lead anyone to Christ? Did I fulfill God’s purpose for my life? Did I do enough of the good works He set for me to do?

When I stand at the end of all things and the fire of God tests the deeds of my life, I want what I’ve built to endure. Yet when I compare this list of questions, which reveals the goals I have that matter most, to my day-to-day choices, which reveal the steps I’m actually taking, I can see that my current path, with all its distractions and meanderings, isn’t quite leading to the desired destination. If I look at this list regularly, as a reminder, then maybe it will.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” —James 4:13-14 (ESV)

Raven. Image Credit: The Graphics Fairy

Image Credit: The Graphics Fairy

We only have so much control over our days, and sometimes the best use of our time is slowing down and enjoying what we have, not more efficiency. But what we do have control over is the time lost on Pinterest and Facebook and worry and vanity, which is so easy to forget as the days slip away. Though the years pass quickly, every day presents a host of opportunities. I want to remember that, and do whatever I can.

Greece Mission

I’m excited to announce that this April, God willing, Ed and I will be going on a mission trip to Greece! We’re joining a group from the Indiana House of Prayer and Equipping (IHOPE), some of whom we know from church and some of whom we’re getting to know for the first time. This is my first international mission trip, and Ed’s previously been to Tanzania and Russia for mission work.

The current plan is to start in Athens, where we’ll work with the House of Prayer for a couple of days and then with the refugee camp in the city. Then we’ll go to Loutraki, a suburb of Corinth, to train, worship, pray, and encourage at the House of Prayer there.

Greece. Photo Credit: Daniel Jones (www.arielgaze.com)

Photo Credit: Daniel Jones (www.arielgaze.com), from the first Greece trip.

We’ll be working with Paul and Rebecca Stuart, who have followed God’s call to move their family to Greece and who are the most absolutely delightful people. They are working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) as base directors in Corinth. You can read their blog and see their photos at www.stuartsonamission.com.

If you want to support Ed and me, you can pray for us! I’m sure more specific prayer requests will arise as the trip draws near, but for now, here’s a short list:

  • Pray for each team member’s daily walk with God.
  • Pray for unity in the team that’s going to Greece, and in our families.
  • Pray we will bring God’s hope to those who are hopeless in Athens, Corinth, and Loutraki.
  • Pray for safe and smooth travel there and back, with no logistical or legal snags.
  • Anything else you can think of. 🙂

If you want to support the mission financially, you can send contributions for the general trip or for individuals’ travel funds. Ed and I are already covered financially (praise God!), but if you feel led to help with the trip in general, or other team members’ travel funds, you can send checks (tax-deductible!) to:

IHOPE
P.O. Box 50952
Indianapolis, IN 46256

Don’t put a note on the memo line, but attach a separate note that says “Greece Trip” or similar for funds to be used on the trip. If you know someone else who’s going and you’d like to support that person, include his or her name on the note as well. You can also donate through IHOPE’s website: www.ihopeindy.com/donate-to-ihope.html. Follow the instructions for secure donations, choose “missions trip”, and put “Greece Trip” (with or without a person’s name) in the notes.

Thanks for your prayers and support! If you have any questions, we’ll do our best to answer them or put you in touch with someone who can.

Eyes to the Hills

Do we understand what is meant by the psalmist who lifts his eyes to the hills?

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

– Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV)

I have heard Christians declare that God, our help, is coming from the hills—that we look and there He is! And for a long time, I assumed that’s what the psalm meant. But the third chapter of Jeremiah makes it sound rather different:

Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see:
Where have you not lain with men?
By the road you have sat for them
Like an Arabian in the wilderness;
And you have polluted the land
With your harlotries and your wickedness.

Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills,
And from the multitude of mountains;
Truly, in the Lord our God
Is the salvation of Israel.

– Jeremiah 3:2, 23 (NKJV)

The ESV’s more literal translation of that latter verse gives, “Truly the hills are a delusion, the orgies on the mountains. Truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.” When I ran across Jeremiah 3:23, in the New King James translation, a few months ago—the day after the election, if I’m not mistaken—of course it brought the beginning of Psalm 121 to mind.

But I heard the psalm differently, this time. I heard it like this: “I lift my eyes up to the hills, but where does my help actually come from? Not there. My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth.”

We lift our eyes to Capitol Hill, but the hill is a delusion, and truly in vain do we hope for salvation from it. Where does my help come from? My help comes from God alone.

(Note: Matthew Henry’s commentary of the psalm actually mentions both meanings, and you can find it at Blue Letter Bible.)

Now What?

Fall trees dropping leaves by a lake. Image Credit: The Graphics Fairy

Image Credit: The Graphics Fairy

About a month ago, I almost posted here about a better voting system for our country. The post is finished. All I have to do is hit the publish button. But posting it felt wrong. I was scrolling through Facebook a LOT right after the election, and it was a deluge of vitriol, fear, sadness, defiance, and chaos. Most of it focused on our federal government and its flaws, both as a system and as a collection of flawed individuals. And those who haven’t crafted their Facebook feeds into echo chambers have probably seen most of the various viewpoints and so many things that are wrong, and have been feeling fairly icky about politics and the country and people in general. I realized a post about ranked ballots wasn’t going to help. Not a month ago, and not now.

I want to “pivot” my blog into something better. I’ll keep telling stories of interesting things that happen to me, when they happen, but I also want to write things that inspire people. I want to point people toward the God of all creation and the cross of Jesus Christ. And right now, I want to answer a question I keep asking myself:

What do I, in the midst of chaos, do now?

I am one person, but God has, many times, done a lot with one person. And there is a lot more I can do in partnership with my loving husband, friends, and church. These are some of the answers I have right now:

  1. Remember this excerpt from From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation by Gene Sharp (emphasis mine):

    “One characteristic of a democratic society is that there exist independent of the state a multitude of nongovernmental groups and institutions. These include, for example, families, religious organizations, cultural associations, sports clubs, economic institutions, trade unions, student associations, political parties, villages, neighborhood associations, gardening clubs, human rights organizations, musical
    groups, literary societies, and others. These bodies are important in serving their own objectives and also in helping to meet social needs.

    Additionally, these bodies have great political significance. They provide group and institutional bases by which people can exert influence over the direction of their society and resist other groups or the government when they are seen to impinge unjustly on their interests, activities, or purposes. Isolated individuals, not members of such groups, usually are unable to make a significant impact on the rest of the society, much less a government, and certainly not a dictatorship.”

  2. Emphasize outreach, even if it means going out in the snow, in the heart of the city, and talking to strangers. We, as Christians, claim to offer truth, hope, grace, virtue, and love. God does offer all of these things. Can we be better ambassadors? If there is any way for us, as individuals and as groups, to send that message better than we are, it is badly needed now. If there is any way for me to participate in what God is doing, I want to do it now.
  3. Stop being distracted by the temporal. Right after Election Day, without making any kind of grand decision, I simply stopped playing the computer game Dota 2. I’d been playing it a lot up through that night, with Ed and with folks online, because it’s Battle Pass season and it’s a lot of fun. But the next day, I didn’t feel like getting lost in frivolous things. And the day after that I didn’t, either. Nor the day after that. And I haven’t played it since. And they’ve just done a big ol’ update and lots of things are new and I find myself actually repulsed by the idea of playing it, because the real world is a big, beautiful place with a lot of dark spots that need reality and truth and love and beauty poured in. I want to see the beautiful places and do the beautiful things and live. (This sounds familiar.)
  4. Be alone. Allow myself to get bored, and to think deeply, and to speak to God, and to hear from God. Give myself time to breathe.
  5. Don’t be alone. Don’t depend only on myself, but exist with others and live among others and know what’s going on in their lives, and let them know what’s going on in my life. Eat together. Pray together. Laugh together. Cry together. Remember the “one another” directives.
  6. Create beautiful things, and do my part to bring the kind of music, art, and literature into the world that makes passers-by stop in wonder and awe. Sometimes this means making things myself, sometimes this means sharing things that someone else did, and sometimes this means not sharing things that are, basically, noise.
  7. Oppose awful things. For instance, a Muslim registry. If the tide turns in the next couple of decades, and a future government wants to register all the Christians, with our “discrimination” and “hate speech” and unapproved proselytizing, who will help us if we don’t speak up now?
  8. Do some good when and where I am led to do so.
  9. Remember that Christ is King, Lord of all, and that God Almighty has always directed the times and ages and nations, and has not stopped doing so today. Everything looks confused and uncertain this close up, and we haven’t seen the end yet, or what good may come from the turmoil, but God directs it all from His throne and we have nothing to fear. We only have a mission to complete as Christ’s people, God’s children, while we walk this earth.
  10. This:

    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

    As far as I can tell, I wrote my first blog post at rae-bot.blogspot.com eight years ago today, and this seems a fitting time to wrap up an era. Going forward, I want the things I write here to qualify as Philippians 4:8 material. Let my words be not only true, but also honorable, just, pure, and lovely. Let me speak of that which is commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, and help people to think about these things. Let 2017 be a good year for better use of my words, and an excellent beginning for better things.

Why I’m Planning to Vote for Gary Johnson

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot, in good conscience, vote for Donald Trump, vote for Hillary Clinton, or not vote at all. I am disillusioned with the idea that our elections are a game where my vote is a strategic way to stop the “other” party from winning, rather than a vote in favor of a decent candidate, and I want to help send the message to the establishment parties that continuing to put up, or accept, shoddy candidates will not be eternally rewarded. Yes, some decent candidates may have made it into the primaries, but the final choices are indicative of a serious problem: our election process is a circus and the best act wins. The rest of us lose. So I’m planning to vote for Gary Johnson.

Governor Gary Johnson. Photo Courtesy of the Johnson-Weld campaign: https://www.johnsonweld.com/

Governor Gary Johnson. Photo courtesy of the Johnson-Weld campaign: www.johnsonweld.com

Am I a Libertarian? By some definitions. By other definitions, absolutely not. “Full Libertarian” seems to be synonymous with “anarchist” in some circles, so I feel the need to give this disclaimer: I am not an anarchist. I believe in driver licenses and the FDA. My group of friends can self-govern well enough, for instance, but the people who are shooting each other throughout the country and the people on Twitter who think the U.S. is 2016 years old cannot.

I am a libertarian-leaning Republican whose “Proud to be a Republican” pin is currently buried in a box under mementos and shame.

I believe that, in general, the government that governs best is that which governs least.

I most want a government that will make taxes easy and leave me alone.

And I want to tell the Republicans, the Democrats, and the two-party system that it’s past time to put up or shut up.

So, unless something crazy happens, I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson this fall.

People are peculiarly dismissive of Gary Johnson. “He can’t win.” “He stuck out his tongue in that one interview.” “Doesn’t he believe [weird anarchist policy that he’s never mentioned, ever]?” “I can’t vote for him; he said [thing I’d immediately dismiss if Trump/Clinton said it].”

I believed it was “throwing away my vote” to vote for a third party when I was in the College Republicans during the McCain/Obama election. I was very excited to help, but my excitement faded as I waved signs and made phone calls for a guy about whom I could only say, “He’s better than Obama. I think.”

This year, it’s tremendously worse.

And this year, there’s a third-party candidate who has a shot at winning, largely because so many people are disgruntled. In fact, if everyone who said, “I’d vote for him, but he’ll never win” actually voted for him, there’s a good chance he would win.

“But that’s a vote for [Trump or Clinton]!” For those of you who are less idealistic than I am: What if you could pair up with someone of the “other” side who, like you, wants to vote for someone other than Trump or Clinton, but is afraid of burning his or her vote and “really” voting in favor of the “worse” candidate? Then the Republican won’t vote for the Republican, the Democrat won’t vote for the Democrat, and you can vote for someone else in peace, knowing your vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders or whoever wasn’t secretly a vote for Clinton/Trump/Scary Person. There is actually a service for that! Visit Burn My Vote (http://www.burnmyvote.org/) to sign up with one of your Facebook friends or a stranger somewhere in the U.S. You have no excuse anymore.

Thank you for reading, and have a nice election season.

The Nakedness of Publication

The short story I published earlier this month was not published under the illusion of wealth and sales. Seldom can a single, disconnected, self-published short story by an unknown author make it into the hands of anyone but her own friends and mother. I know this. Rather, I published it as a beginning, as a dare to myself to make my fiction available and see what happens.

The unexpected result is that I feel naked, knowing it’s out there. I don’t feel such over news articles or blog posts I’ve written. Somehow, “Ba’byl” is a different piece of me, a more raw piece, a more real piece. Somehow, the truths of my short story are deeper and more personal than the truths of events that really happened. It is not a record of events, but it is a record of the musings of my soul.

Ba’byl” is a true piece of me that people can own, buy, seize for themselves, and then read, ignore, publicly review, enjoy, despise, praise, lambast, casually dismiss, forget. It is a piece of me in a way no nonfiction prose is, and it’s the first piece of my fiction that has been made widely available. I feel terrifyingly vulnerable.

Those who would judge “Ba’byl” have the opportunity to judge me. They judge not merely the writing. They also judge me. And I let them. That is what the writer does. She opens her soul to the world, permitting judgment, hoping someone will see the beauty and value therein, hoping someone’s day or life or self will be made better or brighter because of it.

News – Ba’byl, a short story, is now available on Amazon

cover for Ba'byl, by Rae Botsford End

“Ba’byl” is a strange little story I wrote a few years ago about a traveler who visits a dying kingdom and has a conversation with the queen who built it. I rediscovered the story in my files this year and fell in love with my own work—which, as any writer can tell you, is a rare and wonderful event—so I had a couple of people give it a fresh look, then tweaked it a bit to prepare it for publication. My plans for a glorious watercolor cover fell apart, so I resorted to graphic design and I’m actually pretty pleased with the end result.

At last, as of today, “Ba’byl” is available for purchase as an ebook on Amazon.com.

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can use the Kindle app on your tablet or smartphone, or use Kindle Cloud Reader to read it directly in your browser. And if you’re subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you can actually read it for free (for now).

I look forward to your reviews! I think…

Why I’m Not Playing Pokémon GO

I grew up with Pokémon. As a kid, I woke up early every weekday morning to watch the show before school. I collected the cards, I collected all things Pikachu, and I heartily enjoyed the GameBoy games. I liked to wear my Ash Ketchum hat and pretend I was Ashley Ketchum, Pokémon master extraordinaire. When I first saw mention of Pokémon GO on Facebook, it looked like a childhood dream come true. Yeah, it’s smartphone-level augmented reality, but the imagination fills in the blanks. Hey, it encourages you to explore landmarks, too? We just moved to a new city with lots of cool stuff, so this will be great! Back when I was in college, when I first heard about Foursquare, I joined just because of the now-gone badge-based exploration incentives.

All things considered, I should have been easy pickin’s.

The day Pokémon GO officially debuted in the U.S., I had just finished re-reading the old Sailor Moon manga. It’s not a short series, and I’m not great at time management, so when it was over it was like waking up from a really long dream. But hey, there’s this new sweet game out? Well, I can try it for a little while. Just a little while. Once I’ve had a good taste, I’ll delete it.

And so, the next day, I downloaded the app and tried to sign up for an account. The Pokémon Trainer Club accounts looked like a better bet than just using a Google account, and with no apparent way to link the two, I figured I should do it right the first time.

But I got a 502 error. And a 503 error. And with attempts on my phone and on my desktop, in the app and out of it.

Apparently, the servers were having issues. It was a known issue, and there was nothing to do but wait. In that moment, when I saw I couldn’t just plow forward like I’d wanted to, I felt like a victim of a Dark Kingdom scheme who had just been saved by Sailor Moon. My eyes opened.

“I just spent all that time reading the comic books that inspired a show I liked when I was ten, and I’m about to spend a lot of time chasing cartoon characters from a show I liked when I was ten. What am I doing with my life?”

I’ve been working on my discipline already, lately, but this was an important moment. I deleted the app and decided that no matter how fun it looks, I will not play Pokémon GO. Besides, Ed and I have already been exploring the Indianapolis area—for its own sake. It’s pretty cool.

If that’s not enough, the half of Facebook not discussing the game is posting about the horrific things that have happened in our country recently, and all of this on the heels of Brexit, which, whether a good change or a bad one, is still absolutely chaos-inducing. Escapism often is easiest when it’s most important to stay present, and the world needs intelligent, focused, moral, loving people who are present right now.

Today, while half the world was running all over creation capturing cartoon creatures with cartoon pokéballs, I practiced my watercolor painting and then designed a cover for my soon-to-be-self-published short story. I didn’t wake up early, and I didn’t leave the house, but it’s something. I want to learn new things and create beautiful things and, yes, leave the house and go see the city, the state, the country, the world. And I want to benefit the wider world rather than just having fun for my own sake. I want to live in reality and impact reality. I want to live.

There’s actually a lot going on in the real world, good and bad, and it’s way more exciting than I used to believe.

[EDIT: To be fair, I know there’s value in the potential to make friends with strangers over a mutual love of something frivolous like video games or sports. I just don’t get enough mileage out of that to justify this myself.]

Costs of Traveling

Ed and I just spent a couple of weeks in Florida followed almost immediately by several days in Pennsylvania, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to get home in my life. We had a great time, but I’m exhausted and feel like we’ve hardly been able to get any traction in Indiana since we moved at the end of November. First we had Christmas in PA, then a Florida wedding in February, and then a couple of church retreats at the end of April followed by a wedding. Literally every other month that we’ve lived here, we’ve endured a long drive to another state. As of this last set of trips, between the sleep deprivation and our constant presence in ubiquitous fast-food chain restaurants, I keep forgetting what state we’re even in.

So, on the drive home from Pennsylvania on Monday, I started compiling a list of the costs of travel. These are not merely financial. These are everything I could think of. Does that mean travel isn’t ever worth it? Of course not. It is very often worth it, and I’m glad we went. Though if we wind up going anywhere else any time before Christmas this year, I, at least, want to fly instead.

Use any transportation you want, but even Phileas Fogg never took a hot air balloon. Not in the book, anyway.

Use any transportation you want, but even Phileas Fogg never took a hot air balloon. Not in the book, anyway.

Without further ado, the costs of traveling, according to me:

  1. Direct transportation costs, including plane tickets, train tickets, fuel for the car (or boat), wear and tear on the car (or boat), parking, tolls, and the like.
  2. Food costs. Though you’d be eating anyway, you’ll be eating out much more often, and some of that will be expensive for a local “foodie” experience. And sometimes you’ll buy a meal to thank your host.
  3. The cost to your body of eating fast food way more often, typically on a road trip or in airports.
  4. Bottled water for a road trip or a visit to a place with unsafe or bad-tasting drinking water.
  5. Lack of sleep due to strange beds, jet lag, temperatures you can’t adjust, bed bug nightmares, or new snorers in the room with you. This also includes all the side effects of lack of sleep.
  6. Financial and physical costs of an increasing caffeine addiction due to lack of sleep.
  7. Vaccinations or other preventative measures against potential new illnesses and injuries. This can include a first aid kit you wouldn’t otherwise own, mosquito netting, etc.
  8. Actually getting sick (or injured, or having a loved one/traveling companion get sick or injured) due to an accident, failure to prepare, or, you know, generally overdoing it just because you’re traveling. Really, anything from a poison ivy rash if you normally never encounter the stuff to the likes of Lyme disease if you travel to the woods from a tick-free life in the office to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) after sitting in a vehicle for too many hours.
  9. Anxiety due to thinking you have DVT or Lyme disease or malaria or Zika or whatever even though you’re perfectly fine.
  10. More anxiety due to the local flora, fauna (especially arachnids), language barrier, culinary options, cultural expectations, cell phone reception, or other “different from home” things.
  11. Pills and misery associated with new local allergens.
  12. Clothes and accessories suitable for climates that differ significantly from your own.
  13. Traffic tickets or other legal fines or lawyer fees due to unfamiliarity with, and failure to follow, local laws.
  14. Vacation days at work if you get those, or paid hours of work if you don’t.
  15. Whatever you have to pay your house/pet/plant-sitter.
  16. Things that get lost, broken, destroyed, or stolen along the way that otherwise would have been safe.
  17. Replacements for things you forgot to bring. Even if the replacement is something you’d use up anyway, more often than not it winds up being more expensive than if you’d just brought it in the first place.
  18. Destruction of your exercise schedule and habits, especially if you’re not staying somewhere with gym access or a good place to run.
  19. Slowing down of anything else you were trying to gain traction in at home, including making new friends if you just moved somewhere. Ahem.
  20. Relational costs, if you and your travel partners can’t handle long trips together. (Not a problem for Ed and me, FYI.)
  21. Whatever it costs in time, money, and stress to play catch-up when you return.
  22. Physical and psychological stress from simply being away from home.

Boy howdy, that’s a downer. Do I write this to dissuade people from travel? Of course not. Really, I think most people go in (at least after a time or two) with eyes wide open. I just like making lists.

As far as the costs of travel that no one intends to pay, like horrible diseases or downed planes, you do what you can to reasonably prevent them and then carry on with your life. If the only way to ensure your safety is to avoid the risk entirely and lock yourself up in your house, I’d argue that in the long run, it’s no better to be safe than sorry.

Remember the Hourglass

Just over a month ago, I attended a funeral for a family friend. Ed, Dan, and I were going to be in Florida anyway, for a wedding, and my mom had suggested I visit Leslie in hospice when we visited as it would likely be my last chance. I suppose I refused to accept the reality of her condition, and said something like, “I’ll think about it.”

Leslie passed away a few days before we even left Indiana. Instead of planning for a visit, I wound up packing a pink dress for her funeral. Pink was her favorite color, in a way that most people don’t commit to favorite colors. Hot pink, bright pink, pale pink. So many people wore shades of pink to the service that it looked more like a wedding than a funeral.

As I sat between Ed and my father and stared at her pink-and-gold casket, I kept thinking about how easy it would have been to Skype, FaceTime, or just call her on the phone in case her timeline was shorter than my mom had expected. I’d been deluded. I tend to assume I’m going to have more time, even when it’s unreasonable to think so. My eyes don’t seem to open until the last grains of sand are slipping through my fingers.

pocketwatch and hourglass

I suppose the hourglass for moving out of Florida started when Ed and I got married last March. We’ve both been aiming to leave that place for years, but when we got married and could move together, it became a near certainty.

By summer we were seriously praying about where, when, and whether to move, and we made the decision to join our friends in Indiana. We got boxes and packed superfluous items and got rid of really superfluous items and worked to get the place ready to sell by October. Even though we never actually got the house listed, by the grace of God a friend suddenly expressed interest in buying it himself. In October, we bought a house in Indiana. On November 29, 2015, we left Florida behind.

We do still have friends in Florida. And we liked our church in Florida, and we made friends there in the year and a half we were members. I don’t take those friends for granted. But I’d always assumed we’d have time to get to know more people better. Lifepoint’s the kind of church where people actually want to be friendly and honest and connected, so it should have been easy. But Ed and I are both fairly introverted, and kept going back to the same people we already knew. Even though some people talked to us at church events, until somebody threw down a lunch or dinner or coffee invitation it couldn’t really go very far. For whatever reason, we just didn’t.

I figured that eventually, we would. Eventually, we’ll talk to this guy on the worship team or that woman we know from Bible study. At some future gathering, we’ll start a conversation with that couple who seems friendly. On some future Sunday, we’ll ask if they’re free for lunch. Someday.

And then before I knew it, we were about to leave, and in a weird sort of limbo where we couldn’t commit to much of anything and everyone saw us with one foot out the door.

In our last month, as I watched the grains of sand run out, I stared helplessly around the church at people I had meant to talk to, but didn’t. People I’d talked to a little, but not much. It’s not like I couldn’t see, at the end, where the time had gone. I knew.

Today I’m shy, tomorrow I’ll do better.

Next week I’ll do better.

Next interesting church class I’ll do better.

And then the hourglass was empty.