Twenty five minutes

"Downed Tree," by Carol L. Douglas

“Downed Tree,” by Carol L. Douglas

I decided on Friday that I’d use the weekend to declutter my house. I’m endlessly tripping over boxes and they need to go away before I can start our taxes. Plus some mindless yeoman work might interrupt my ceaseless worrying about the closing on our house in Rochester.

I’m generally an intrepid person. I believe that God guides my steps and I don’t have to perseverate on the details. For me to suddenly be so focused on disaster is highly unusual.

I’ll give you one small example: the buyers don’t want our chest freezer. I had about 25 responses to my Craigslist ad, but I drove myself nuts trying to determine who would be the most responsible party to remove it. “They’ll scratch the floors or ding the doorframes or get it halfway up the stairs and drop it and tear off the tile,” I said to myself as I rather ruthlessly interrogated would-be recipients.

The downed tree is slowly fading in the week since the storm.

The downed tree is slowly fading in the week since the storm.

On Saturday, my plans to unpack boxes were interrupted by a text from my friend Berna. My scallops were in. She’d hand them off to me in a parking lot in Belfast. Fresh seafood waits for no man. Since I was going that far, I might as well go to Cape Jellison to paint beforehand, I decided.

It being Saturday, I took the time to talk to my friends before painting. I told them how gripped I was by this intense anxiety. Their counsel—that worry is fruitless and not of God—is nothing I don’t know or generally live, but I needed to hear it.

I rushed out to set up before eating lunch. It turned out that I had just 25 minutes to paint. However, that’s better than nothing, and I think it’s what my pal Mary Byrom wanted when she suggested 30 paintings in 30 days.

And there are my scallops, all tucked up and ready for bed.

And there are my scallops, all tucked up and ready for bed.

The scallop handoff went smoothly, although it might have looked suspiciously like a drug deal to passers-by on Route 1.

If you don’t get it the first time, God is going to keep walloping you over the head until you do. On Sunday, our preacher spoke about the poles of hate-fear-anger and love-faith. He used a famous passage I’d just read the night before, 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

In mid-afternoon it hit me: I don’t have to wait for something to change in my thinking processes to make these thoughts go away; I can simply refuse to entertain them. I’ve stopped giving them airtime, and it’s helped tremendously.

Of course the freezer came out without a hitch. I have to believe the rest of the closing process will go smoothly too.

Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit for more information.