Inertia is not a word I hear often, but when someone said it the other day, what popped into my mind was: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. I don’t know when I learned Newton’s law of inertia —maybe fifty years ago—but it obviously stuck.
I hadn’t thought of inertia in a long time, but since hearing the word I can’t get it out of my mind. I’ve been thinking about how inertia works in my life, where I am in motion and where I am at rest.
Just days before my friend Jim died, he said, “I hope you start to sew again.” It was an odd, random thing for him to say—the wish of a dying man—and his words haunt me. Since his death more than four years ago, I have sewed a bit, but not started sewing in the way he meant.
Sewing is pure joy for me. In a very short time, I can transform a piece of fabric into a skirt or a dress. Sewing is magic and has always been a marvel for me.
I recently saw a news clip about an art program inthe Detroit public schools. As a glass blower changed a rod of glass into a vase, the camera captured the amazement on the faces of the children in the class. I could relate because art stirs the wonder of the child within me. Sewing is an art form that delights and transforms me.
So why have I not been sewing?
“I started sewing,” I told my mother the other day, and I know she hoped I would say I was working on her curtains. I had bought the fabric weeks ago and prepped it, but then did not sew the curtains. I don’t know why, but I just haven’t been able to get started. Inertia.
On that day, though, I did thread the needle and do a little mending, small projects that have been sitting on my sewing machine table for months, begging for my attention.
I have inertia around my prayer, too. I spend time in quiet every morning, but am I really praying? I read scripture and Morning Prayer. I journal. But actually praying, having a conversation with God, an open dialogue, listening for God’s voice, God’s direction? Like sewing, all the pieces are in place, but I seem unable to jump in and do it.
My inertia, I believe, is caused by the losses of the past six years; being at rest is a natural part of the grieving process.
I see signs though that I am moving through my inertia. Studying Polish, gardening, baking and cooking are all activities I have resumed after a time of being at rest.
Threading the needle to mend may have been the first step toward sewing, and a week’s retreat this winter will hopefully rekindle my prayer life and help me to re-engage more fully in life.