In the first chapter of the Book of Jacob he talks about his “faith and great anxiety.” I get that. I often feel strung between the two–and sometimes they seem to smash into each other, my faith in a constant tension with my anxiety. I know that prayers are answered. But I wonder if my prayers are answered. I wonder how I will confront my own personal challenges: being a single mom, balancing work and home, taking care of myself. In these moments my faith and anxiety coexist.
But, a few weeks ago, I got on a plane to Italy.
I hadn’t traveled out of the country since I was in college–enough years ago to make it feel like ages. I got on the plane without my children, a solo trip across the ocean. I was worried that traveling all that way by myself would be frightening. But I got on that plane and it was like shedding a skin. I buckled my seat belt, the plane started to taxi, and I wasn’t a harried mom or stretched thin editor or a confused midsingle, I was Jes. I was me. I was faith.
I spent ten days wandering the streets of Sicily, eating gelato, and feeling my feet hit the cobblestones of ancient cities. The mediterranean was an indescribable blue. The castles were impossibly old. The scent of oranges and lemon hung in the air. It was like stepping outside of my body and simultaneously fully arriving in myself. It was pure magic.
As a new year begins and introspection is expected and rampant, I keep thinking about that moment when everything fell away. Like all significant events, the feeling didn’t last. I came home from Italy and spent weeks in a delirious, jet-lagged fog. The weight of my life hit me with a force that took my breath away. The children, the laundry, the loneliness of singlehood battered down on me until the feeling of weightlessness I’d had was pressed to the floor.
But after couple nights of sleep,things are not so bleak. Heading back to work, I caught sight of Adelaide Ann Proctor’s poem hanging beside my desk: “No star is ever lost we once have seen, We always may be what we might have been.” And maybe that’s the answer. No moment like mine in the airplane is ever lost. It hangs like a star in our memory: it’s the antidote to anxiety. It’s the reminder that we can always change. We are in constant flux, and that flux can take us from what we are to what we can be.