19 degrees Fahrenheit, cold and bright. The winter chill has hushed the world. I can see the dogs’ breath as they bask in the sun outside the window.

A mug of tea warms my coaster. In the kitchen, the split peas are soaking for soup. I am still.

David is at a two-day conference, discussing community development and raising support for his business, Develop CENTS, and our community project, OPEN In East Lake. He will be home for dinner tonight and tomorrow night. That means the days are mine. He has anticipated these days with great excitement. I have anticipated them with excitement for him and sadness for myself, because I will miss him.

This morning, the silence brought a presence that I did not anticipate.

David leaves and I stay behind, curled up with the dog on the couch. I read, as I have been reading in the mornings, from Acts. I see for the first time the place where Saul is suddenly referred to as Paul, the christening of his preaching and their stoning.

I get up from my seat and suddenly I am aware of it. The Holy Spirit, the same breath that breathed Paul’s stories to life, is in the room with me. I am comforted.

In my dreams for the future, I used to picture myself juggling both a teaching career and children. Why do I now find myself struggling to simply make a home with my husband, often sick, sometimes lonely?

This week so far, I have been sick every other day.

I am anxious about everything, imagining trauma and desolation on every little action that either David or I takes. I go to the store for produce; I picture myself wrecking the car. I can’t turn my mind off. It’s ridiculous, and it’s not like me to worry that way. It occurs to me sometimes to take those obsessive moments and turn them into a prayer or a song. When I’m not obsessing about trouble, I’m exhausted, curled up in a ball on the couch, forcing myself to get up, to dress, to eat.

Today is a good day. No nausea, no tiredness, little anxiety, a barely present headache. I can research and plan recipes for the next few days using ingredients already in my kitchen. I can do my chiropractic stretches while I listen to a podcast about the importance of sadness in stories. (The Rabbit Room podcast, a production by a little enclave of Christian artists, is available for free on iTunes. It is salvific.)

Why this day well, and not the others? I don’t know. What I do know is this: the Lord is near. Always.

I remember the words of my Pastor: “When mankind chose suffering over being with God, God made suffering a road by which we can know Him.”  I remember this. I turn it over and over like a well-worn coin.

All is calm. The Lord is near.