Turning the calendar page to March brings a little trepidation with it. The squares on my are packed tight, and I am sort of tempted to skip ahead, count down the days, and get on to the big “spring break” written out in big bright letters across the last seven boxes. Or maybe we could jump back a few weeks to those emptier days, the weekends with nothing in them. Because the present is full and a little overwhelming and a lot exhausting. I feel like a checkers piece, scouring the board – my planner – for some open squares to jump across into safety.
But the present is where I am, and nothing I do can move me forward or back.
My black accompaniment binder has got so much music shoved inside it is literally breaking apart. Each rehearsal, each practice session, feels like I’m just barely getting by. I get to the end of each piece and rub my ever aching forehead. I know I’ll have it by the performance, but the journey there has more jagged edges than I’d like. There’s a date circled on the square in May. By then I’ll be able to empty out this weary binder. But today I am here, with all the wrong notes and imperfect run throughs.
I got a text from my sister the other day. “One month away!” And the anticipation of road tripping to one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people makes me want to press fast forward. That one month can’t come soon enough. But today I am here. On the corner of my couch, snagging twenty minute breaks to get out a few words on the word document before running back for more choir rehearsals.
I volunteered to coordinate costuming for the spring musical. It’s a big job and I usually end up crying in dank storage spaces sorting through musty dresses from the eighties. But I’m here again, hoping to find just the right thing in piles of not at all the right things, envisioning how these shirts and those dresses might make a gaggle of high schoolers bring the Addams family to life on stage. I want to be there, at opening night when everything has come together. But that is weeks away. And today we are where everything feels like a bit of a mess.
March is where things feels stuck, a friend told me the other day. I get that. The branches are still so bare – the possibility of buds and greener grass and warmer days seem so intangibly distant. The routine we set up in January feels stale, the energy we had to invest in our days is depleted. Spring is coming, but not nearly soon enough.
But March is where we are. March is our present. Busy and full and long. And there’s no other place but here in the present that we should try to be.
Emmanuel. We held that word tightly in December. God with us. Here, now, in our midst, in the present. We celebrated it, we sung songs about it, we hung it on our Christmas trees and scrawled it across our chalkboards.
Emmanuel isn’t just a December word. It isn’t only for the days we were gathered with family and friends, singing carols, eating cookies, spreading good cheer. Emmanuel is a March word. A word for the brown days that drag on and on and on. Emmanuel is a word for all our days. Because God is always with us. He is always in the present.
I stepped out the front door this morning to piercing blue sky and a chorus of birdsongs. The frigid air bit my cheeks and made my legs tingle through thin running pants. I put my feet on the ground in front of me and breathed in deeply. Here. Right here, right now. This present moment is where God is present.
I don’t know that I would skip ahead, even if I could. I don’t think I’ll look back, either. I’ve been there. I’ll get there. For now I’m here, in the present. And bumpy, winding, stuck or not, this is where God is present, so I will be too.