A Rock Feels No Pain

In despero , obscurum ; In Diligo , Lux lucis. (In despair, darkness; In Love, Light). -Me

Heartbreak

So, my guess is that most people (that don’t live under a rock, and for all I know, there’s an iApp for them, too)… anyway, we’ve probably all heard of Newtown, CT, and the horrific shootings there Friday.

I only popped back on here to share something our new Rector said, as he addressed us; in the context of free-will, and bad things happening,

“God’s heart… his.. he… God’s heart, was the first one breaking.”

Yes, the pauses were his, and yes, it really sucks; but the thing to hang onto, is that God is with us, and God weeps with us, and yes- Gods heart is big enough to break, too.

Advertisements

Filed under: Uncategorized,

Never Forget…. but what then?

I was sitting in church this morning, listening to the sermon, and at one point she mentioned those words, which were plastered all over the place shortly after 9/11/01, banners, signs, t-shirts, bumperstickers. “Never Forget”, usually followed by the date, sometimes accompanied by an image.

As I listened, I remembered- the awful stunning news; slowly comprehending it was real; frantically calling, attempting to anyway, my uncle who was employed at the WTC… the unknowing… the dread fear… of the tears, as we who were also firefighters, watched the deaths of brothers and sisters… of the pall of smoke and dust, visible for days…

And I remembered the Gospel that was read this morning, about forgiveness and how difficult that is; and I thought of other times, other acts that I’ve forgiven, and the many many many times I have needed and been granted forgiveness…

And I thought, what then? Never forget, true- but forgive? God can… we mere humans can try… can we? I dunno.. but, I pray so, that we can forgive in the spirit that we are forgiven.

So, that’s my answer, for today anyway; I’ll never forget… and then, I’ll pray.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Mission: Dominican

Mission: Impossible

Mission: San Marcos

Well. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, and longer still of any substance; and this one, too, is delayed, but I am still processing, still trying to think of all that went on, that I learned and felt and the times we shared.

So, practical things first. A couple of weeks ago, on the 28th of June, 21 people set out at the crack of dawn. Sixteen kids, from 14-18, and five adults, from some age to 47. We met at 0-dark’thirty, at the Church, and boarded a chartered school bus. We rode said bus, to the Newark, NJ, airport, and got off at terminal C. (It would have been silly to get off anywhere else, because that’s the terminal the flight was departing from, you see. I know you were worried about why we chose that terminal, and now you know).

Anyway, we herded and corralled, and counted heads a lot, and worked 21 people through security, immigration, boarding-pass checks, and onto the plane. A few (short!?!?!?) hours later, about 1230, we disembarked at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and began a great adventure in hard work, sharing, laughter, tears; in working, building, sweating, bleeding; in short, we started a week of mission work to the San Marco area of the Diocese of The Dominican Republic.

I can’t tell you, how proud of those kids, I am. Sixteen teenagers, working in dirt, shoveling, carrying concrete, heaving buckets of water (“Mas Agua! Mas Agua!”). We dug, we sweat, we panted; we sang, we laughed. We made friends, even across the language barriers. We learned that in this country, in our cozy little tiny-village lives (Yeah, small- the population of the “bigger” village, where our church is located, is estimated at 6663, as of 2007; the hamlet I live in, next to that village, is so tiny they don’t measure population separately from the surrounding areas), just how blessed we are, how fortunate.

We spent that week working, on a building site that will eventually become a Church, School and shelter for single- moms. Our little band turned out to be the first group in. The Padre we worked with had never had a mission group to work with before, and indeed, we were the ground breakers for the entire project.

Not to minimize the physical, for the kids did an incredible job, considering- 250′ of trench for a foundation, 18” deep and wide; concreted mixed, barrowed and poured that length, and cinderblock wall to about 4′, for most of that length, using hand tools like hoes, shovels and picks; some of our young ladies are almost five feet tall, and might weigh 100 lbs, and they worked without a serious complaint, for a week, in temperatures that approached 100, with 90% plus humidity. Not a single one of us were seriously hurt; as the designated first-aide guy, I had to flush two kid’s eyes, one for a bit of rock chip, and one for sunscreen dripping, but other than that my primary concern was blisters, hydration, and sunblock. (After all, I had to bring ’em back in the same shape I took ’em from moms and dads, right?).

So, the upshot, was a lot of hard physical labor.

But-

The most wonderful parts, had nothing to do with that. As great as they were at work, the gang of kids were even better, at mission and outreach, at connecting and friendships. Each one, in their own way, joined hands with neighbors and friends that we hadn’t met yet. Smiles, laughter, little ditties in Spanish, little ditties in English, clapping to the beat of songs we didn’t know, couldn’t recognize, set the stage for a deeper relationship. (I wish I could remember some of the little movements and words, to a little thing we learned from a 14 year-old gal, that first night; we have video, but I don’t have it here, but oh Lordy, we laughed!).

Some of the things that stand out, with crystal clarity-

  • The Dominican workers refusing lunch until we, the “guests”, had eaten; and, on the last day, when they realized they’d not purchased enough food for the entire week- watching them eat ketchup sandwiches; some of which, were cut in half, so each would get something.
  • The grandmother of one of the little girls opening her home, humble as it was, so we could use her bathroom- and, although clearly impoverished, offering me a cup of cafe, as if she had gallons to spare. (I know she didn’t, because 1. I could see her supply of coffee, and it wasn’t much, and 2. All water had to come from bottles, you’d no more brew gallons of coffee than you’d water plants with your drinking water).
  • The look on a couple of our teenager’s faces, when they realized, in horror, that one of the workers was barefoot not by choice, but because he didn’t own a pair of shoes. The look on those same faces, as well as the worker’s, as they took him to the little peddler’s cart and bought him a pair of shoes.
  • Later, the gratitude on Joan’s (Pronounced jo-ahn, and it’s a male name- we kept wanting to call him Yohann, lol) face, too, when he received a pair of shoes from the feet of one of the boys. (Does it count that I did bring some of ’em home shoe-less, albeit healthy?)
  • The gentle kindness of the Padre, as he bent to speak to the little girls that flocked around us, after we started our days with a prayer service in the teeny shed that acted as the church, for now, explaining why they couldn’t wheel the wheel barrows full of sacks of concrete up the street for us.

There’s so much more, so many little things that I can’t recount, I can’t express some of it yet, I’m still processing the whole trip, the whole community we formed to go, and expanded while we were there; the welcome we were given to join that far-off group, the love we all held, and showed.

Why, today, am I writing this? Well, cuz we had a follow-up meeting with the ‘gang’, today, after Church. We managed, it seems, to raise a substantial amount more than we needed, and the kids decided it would be appropriate to give it back to our parish, who had contributed so much to the trip; but, they also decided, on their own, that they needed to continue this connection, and all we heard for an hour, was how they could do more for the people of San Marcos.

Yeah.

It costs $300.00 (US), per year, to send a child to school, up through high-school. That includes tuition, uniform, books, etc. So our gang, today? They figure that if each of the twenty of us did just a little bit, per month, that we probably wouldn’t even miss, well; “Pauloa, Joan, Roberto… they could go to school!”

Yeah

Proud, I am, so proud of that gang.

And I love ’em all, each one.

Filed under: blessings, friends, friendship, God, musings, spirituality, , , , , , ,

Helpless & ouch & funerals-

Little disjointed unconnected just “tossing thoughts out”, here:

1. I hate when I want to help someone, but it feels as if I can’t do enough, you know? I know I did everything I could, and I know it was appreciated, and I know it’s all I could do, given the logistics and timing and circumstances, and all those things; but, I can’t keep my heart from wishing it could have been more.

2. Got a call, Friday- my son was on a school field trip, with the band, and hurt himself jumping a barrier at an amusement park. He’s okay, but there was a tense 3 hour drive for me, Friday evening, to get him at the hospital, and another 3 back home. If asked, he says he learned an important lesson: “Jump higher.”

3. Got a call, a couple hours ago, from my brother back in Minnesota; my much beloved Aunt’s second husband died today. I’ll be flying back on Wednesday, for the interment and memorial service on Thursday.

4. Got told by someone extremely special to me, that I should put up a wall, to protect myself. Too late, I said- no rocks left around to build a wall with, and I don’t wanna, anyway. Funny, considering the name of this blog, and how often I make jokes about being a “rock”, or “rocklike”… but, I was struck by how little like a rock I feel, or want to be, anymore. huh.

5. We’re getting closer to going on a mission trip, which is at the end of June, to the Dominican Republic- and I’m excited, for it. I’ve been working with the youth from Church, that will be going- but, if anyone happens to think of a cure for insanity, which is newly defined as taking 16 teenagers overseas, please let me know!

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

2 Advent

I’ve shared here, a journey that I began a while ago, and some of my thinking about this. Sunday, I took another step along this path. I’m still not sure if this is where I’m heading, but I wanted to share with you the first sermon I ever gave.

Slight edits, for reading vs. hearing, but otherwise, here it is; I make no apologies nor promises, it’s a first-timers outing.

He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, for as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness
“Prepare the way of the Lord”

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you Oh Lord.

Amen.

Good Morning.

As my son said, when he stood here to preach the first time, “I’m not Father ***”. I will add, and you may have noticed, I’m not Deacon ***, either! (For readers, our Deacon is a female, which I am decidedly not)

As some of you know, but many may not, I have been exploring different ministries here at Church for the past several years.

A few of you are also aware that I have been actively trying to determine if I am being called to the ordained ministry, and Father *** was kind enough to give me the chance to explore the preaching aspects involved.

I want to start, by repeating again part of what we heard a moment ago:
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness- Prepare the way of the Lord”, and what that might mean to us, today.

Advent is: A beginning, such as the advent of spring.
Advent is: A time of preparation and prayer for Christmas, in the tradition of the Anglican Church.
Advent is: A time of what, to you and to me?

When I was a little boy, my dad had built a ski-chalet with one of his partners. Set in the middle of 16 acres of second-growth forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to a 7 year old this was prime adventure and exploration territory.

Now, we were not woods people; my family doesn’t hunt, we didn’t do any fishing, or long hikes, nor camping. My Dad’s idea of communing with nature, as far as I knew then, was to be out on the golf course or on the ski slopes, and other relatively tame things like this.

One summer day, I was off behind this little house, making a fort or something, and wandered off down a little path through the trees. I remember the sunlight and shadows, and the sound of the birds, and crackling twigs and dead leaves underfoot.

I also remember the sheer panicked terror, when I turned around, and couldn’t see the house anymore.

As I said, we weren’t woods people, so I’d never really had any experience with finding my way around, if there weren’t sidewalks and streetlights, and handy neighborhood landmarks to guide me- so I had absolutely no clue, what to do next. I was lost, in the wilderness.

Today, we heard from Luke, who is quoting from the prophet Isaiah. We know that John heard the word of God, and began to travel the region, spreading the news that the Messiah is near, that he heard the call of the Lord and answered it, baptizing and preaching repentance.

So I have a question for you: do we hear?

As I was thinking about this, getting ready to speak to you today, I was listening to the people around me. For the past few weeks, I’ve been focused on what people talk about, where they have their attention, in my colleagues, the parents I see, the woman that gets my coffee at the little coffee shop at work, and I found fascinating what struck me as our modern, 2009 wilderness:

“soccer baseball football swimming drama dance band parade fire department mom is sick dad is dying shopping groceries gas flat tire husband out of work chimney cleaners work work work driving cleaning out of dog food out of cat food tree fell down boat prep wash the windows make the bed cross-country basketball tryouts cheer leading work work work singing crying boyfriend trouble girlfriend trouble new car new house new job out of job out of money no insurance not communicating work work work too much communicating facebook myspace text messages cellphones voicemail email train derails fires health-care parties most valuable player prison visits swine flu vaccine work work work not vaccine make dinner do the dishes do your homework friends family.”

And, in this wilderness of things calling for our attention, perhaps, maybe, as an afterthought, God.

Maybe.

What is your wilderness? I just listed some of mine, and perhaps yours, but each of us has our own. There is a wilderness of things demanding our attention, our time, our energy, each of which is important in it’s own way, perhaps. But the collective trees that pop into our way, contribute to the difficulty of navigating through this complex life.

When we get busy, when we start running around too fast and too far, how easy it is to say that we don’t have time for reflection and prayer. We don’t have time to think about what it is God is saying to us, because we don’t allow time for this.

You’ve all heard the complaints, and perhaps like me, have been among the complainers, talking about the materiality of the season, and nobody making time for God, and what is the meaning of Advent, and Christmas, in our hectic, frantic world.

Perhaps, like me, you too have been guilty of getting caught up in the worldly preparations for Christmas, to the exclusion of the truly Holy part of this season, that leads to the miraculous birth of our Lord.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy our celebrations, and our family and friends, and even the office christmas party. But I would say that there is a time for those things, and a time for reflection on the wonderful, amazing miracle of the birth of Jesus, and that we can and should make sure that we allow time for that reflection too.

Now, when I was lost in my childhood wilderness, I did what any good seven year old would do. I called out “MOOOMMM”- and when I heard her calm voice answering “What?”- well, that relief and clear sense of belonging- that too, is one way to see that even in our wilderness all we have to do is listen. Of course, it didn’t hurt much that although I couldn’t see the house, She could see me- so I wasn’t all that lost, as it turned out!

Which brings me to the other half of my question: When do we stop listening, and start speaking?

Perhaps, like me, you’ve been known to forget this part of the communication equation. We need to be open to hear the word being spoken, as some heard John preaching his news, so long ago, and so far away.

But, what of the speaker? When do we do the calling? When do we step in, and begin to be that voice that is spreading this word? And, how do we do it, in our cozy village?

Maybe, we’re doing it now. Maybe, one of the things we are called to do, is to be right here. By joining together in worship and in fellowship, by taking the time from our overly busy lives, are we showing the world that God is indeed here among us?

By listening to God’s voice in our lives, do we help to further that voice in some small way? I think the answer to this, is yes indeed.

Each time you stop to help your friend, each contribution to the basket that you make, each time we pray before a meal or going to bed, you are helping to show that in some measure, the word that was spread, the news that John brought to us so long ago, is valid and alive and real, right here, right now.

Look around this place.

Look at your friends and neighbors, gathered here together, affirming that the reality of Jesus Christ is important to them. Look around and reflect on the long, long way that the word of God traveled, through so many languages and countries, to get to us here, in New York, in 2009.

Look around, and listen, and I believe that you can indeed hear the word of God here, today, now. Perhaps not as tidily laid out as we would like, perhaps it’s a tiny voice in the overly loud requests for our time and money, but it’s there, if we listen.

Advent, traditionally, is a time of preparation for Christmas, a time to make ready for the birth of Jesus.
This birth took place far from here, far from our comfortable 21st century United States style of living; far in time, as well as distance. It took place long ago, before our instant communications, our cellphones, text messages, facebook pages-

Yet, we can still hear, if we listen, the message that was told to us; you and I can hear, if we pay attention.

So, I’m inviting you to put together two meanings of the word Advent:

1. A time of beginning
2. A time of preparation.

And let’s begin, to:

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Amen

As I said, a first-timers attempt, but it was well received. I felt it went pretty well, and the feedback I was given afterward (by the same people that have been meeting with me regularly during this process, as well as more casual congregants), was upbeat and positive.

Hope your Advent is beginning with joy, too!

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Not My, but Thy

(This is really long, and rather wandering, but I needed to write it, and post it- so my apologies in advance)

I’m jumping back again, back to the fall of 2006. This would be post suicide-by-truck-into-bridge-averted-by-some-other-powers-hands-on-mine-that-saved-my-pretty-useless-carcass-for-some-reason (at the time) unknown-to-me timing. This would be post drop-the-kid-off-for-his-first-year-at-the-university timing. Post (or during?) the find-out-about-things-in-our-relationship-that-are-not-so-good-to-find-out-about timing. Anyone following that? No? Me either, but that’s okay.

The important parts, of the whole time period then, are varied- it’s sufficient for some of it, to simply note that a whole lot of garbage has been worked through, sorted, thrown away and is gone. A lot of ripping out of the deadwood, to leave behind what is real, and true, and valuable, in my relationship with Lynn. Of course, there is the minor detail that I’m still alive and around to care about this stuff, which along with our caring about one another again, is an ongoing process, as well as an ongoing commitment.

But something very very interesting happened, in the midst of all of the yuk. There was a time, a moment when my heart was breaking, when I honestly couldn’t have given odds that I would ever be whole enough to care about anything. But, once again, I was feeling those warm hands, that so soft voice- and because of that, I did something I hadn’t done in years.

I left my house, and went to church. Not on Sunday, not for a service, but just because I needed to be there.

I went to the church we’d found back in 1999, when we moved to this teeny village. The white clapboard little country church, where we’d found a spiritual home. Granted, I’d spent intervening years actively avoiding it, granted that during that time I couldn’t have, (or rather, wouldn’t have) acknowledged that God existed, much less cared- that didn’t matter. I knew, in the same way that I’d felt those warm hands on mine two months before, that I needed to get my ass to church.

I prayed there, sincerely, and for the first time in a long long time, I prayed the one prayer that I believe God likes to hear more than any other. Pretty much, I said, “Show me what YOUR will is here, show me where I need to be going, because I don’t know; I need you to show me what path YOU want me on. If that means I lose my marriage, my life, my place in this world, so be it.” YOU know- the whole, “Not my will, but Thy will be done” praying.

And, much to the chagrin of the part of me that had been running from it, for so long, so thoroughly, He did what will always be done, if we can but listen, if we can only see. He told me. He showed me. He made it very very plain to me, that despite all of my best efforts, He was there and waiting, patiently, for me to wake up. He made it plain, that my first job now, was to get my house in order. Then, he wanted to talk to me some more. (Know how it was, when your dad or mom would say “I want to talk to you?” Yeah, that’s the tone, right there).

At that point, there was still a lot of work to be done, of course. A ton of work, a lot of tears, and anger and frustration and ready to quit. A lot of learning, and relearning, and all the work of restoring trust, and rediscovering one another, and relearning about one another. (No, I’m not talking ’bout marriage here, although that was true, too- no, I meant between myself and God).

That growth is ongoing, of course, and will be forever. I started by making the simple changes I needed to, in order to make the opportunities for communication to happen. I started getting to church, and becoming more actively involved there. I began to make time to pray, and study, and think, again. I spent time reflecting on things that I’d heard, and known-but-denied, and acknowledging that sometimes, other people might know us better than we know ourselves.

And so, eventually, I took an opportunity to explore some things at the Seminary in New York; I jumped into some things at church that I’d never done before, and they were amazing. I started teaching the high school classes, as I’d done years before. I started working with various groups, and these days, I’ve found myself on the vestry- whodda thunk THAT, five years ago?

I’ve struggled, and still do- and probably will, forever, with wanting things that aren’t good for me, aren’t what God wants for me; and, no doubt, I will succumb to those temptations, and beat myself up for it, for not being stronger, or better, or whatever.

But, I’ve learned something that I can cling too, that I grasp, that I hold dear to my heart, and that I thank God for each and every day, each and every time I pray. I’ve learned that I am much happier, much more complete, much more than I used to be- if I remember to pray “Thy will”.

There is a whole range of things I can think of, and point to, and reflect on, that let me know that I am finally heading where I’m supposed to be, that at least I’m at the beginning of the right road for me to take. I’m not going to try to catalog them all, I’ll spare you that.

But, one of the steps that I took last week, is a huge one. A letter was sent to a carefully, prayerfully chosen group of eight people of our parish. This letter is the biggest thing I’ve ever tackled, and the most important thing of all, in so many ways- so, I’m placing it here, as well as in my heart and the hearts of the ones that received it in the mail.


To: ***
From: Father ***
Date: Ash Wednesday – 2009
Re: Discernment Committee – David ***

Dear Friends –

I write to ask your help in serving on a discernment committee for David ***. David has a strong sense of calling to serve in ordained ministry in the church, and has over the past two years begun the work of testing that calling by taking some classes at General Seminary and by substantially increasing his involvement in various church ministries here at Christ Church. The time has come to assemble a parish level discernment committee on his behalf.

The work of a discernment committee varies with the candidate they seek to serve, but always involves hearing the story of the candidate’s life and sense of calling, and helping the candidate reflect on their experiences of both church ministry and ministry in the wider world. Discernment committee work is typically prayerful, deep and nourishing for all involved. This committee will meet to assist and support David until he either moves beyond the parish level in the “process” of formation for priestly ordination, or until he is clear his vocational calling lies in another arena.

If you agree to serve on this committee, you can expect to meet about once every six weeks, usually on a Sunday afternoon. Past discernment committees have typically shared a simple lunch together after church, meeting for about an hour and a half. We will convene for our first meeting of the group at some time early in the Easter season.

You are receiving this invitation for very specific reasons. I trust you will honestly and prayerfully consider serving with this group. Your presence would be a blessing to us all, and David in particular.

I will call soon to answer any questions and see if you’ll be joining us. Thanks in advance for your kind consideration.

Faithfully Yours –

Father ***

Obviously, I don’t know for sure where this will lead. I think I do, and so do many others- but the point is to help discern that. But that’s okay, right? Cuz I get to say, “THY will…”

Filed under: depression, emotions, God, learning, love, lynn, marriage, suicide, , , , , , , , ,

Skipping ahead, and back, and around- and it’s good

I’m skipping ahead, from where I stopped last post. Why? Because it’s my blog, and I can! Okay, so really, it’s because this week- tomorrow, actually- marks the one year anniversary of an event that has been on my mind lately. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget dates, I’ve written about that before- but either way, since I don’t seem to be able to get it out of my head, I thought I’ll share a bit here, and see if it helps.

I wrote about this, sort of, on my return, here:
But, I’d never particularly said what it was that threw me into said tailspin. Last year, about the time we we were redecorating my daughter’s room, I was doing something or other to Lynn’s computer. While doing that, I had seen some things that indicated that an attachment to one of her gaming friends had gone beyond just good friends, and it tossed me backwards, and down.

Good old black thing, seeing this, reared up it’s ugly, cold self, and tried once again to swallow me up. By that night, I was a complete, gibbering, useless emotional wreck. (Do you know that even knowing that it’s an illness, etc, and all that- it’s really not easy to admit to falling apart like that?) (Good thing I know you wont tell anyone, huh?) There was very little room for any forms of rational thought, nor was there any space being left for what I KNEW I should be doing, namely praying and letting God take this on. I have a hard time with that, though, which is one of the things that the depression both causes, and feeds upon. When you feel useless, and worthless, and unable to consider any value in yourself- well, then, why would God? After all, He knows better than anyone just how worthless I am, right?

It’s a nasty, vicious, icky cycle, and about the only good thing I can say for it, is that it certainly does keep you from doing things. Oh yes, if you want to have no ability to function, then go for the depression. Other than that? No, not-so-good.

Anyway, I was falling apart, completely. I had fallen so fast, and so deeply, that Lynn felt the need to hide the car keys, and to move medicines, and to keep a careful eye on me, in case I found a knife, or a razor. That terror, that fear in her eyes, was about the only thing that could have, that finally did, penetrate. I knew, somewhere, someplace inside, that even through the mistrust and anger I was feeling towards her, and her friend, and my own uncertainty about what that meant for our relationship- I knew that I hated that look even more than I hated myself.

Now, a couple years ago, I may well have made the determination that I could eliminate the look, if I eliminated myself. How extremely logical, no? No fear in your wife’s eyes, if you’re not around to have a wife anymore, right?

Thankfully, the God that I just KNEW found me useless and worthless, didn’t. No, once again, He whispered, he reminded me that I was still around for a reason, and that even if I didn’t understand that reason, He did; and He’d let me know why when I was ready to hear it, but that right now, tonight, I needed to stay alive, and here’s the handy solution. Harder solution, yes- but the right one. He told me, get going, dude-

So, I checked into the nut-hut (Behavioral Psychology Medicine Unit, for those that insist on boring, uninteresting names for things). I spent just under a week there, working with the Docs and Nurses, and the counselors and other patients. Something very unsettling, about realizing that the reason the orderlies come into the room every 20 minutes, is to make sure you’re not dead; yes, the whole ward was monitored, basically on a suicide watch, the entire time, every one of us.

I’ll tell you this though, as I reflect over the past year, look back on that day. I am much, much stronger than I was then, much healthier. I know this, because of something that happened just three weeks ago. I was going to start the car, warm it up before church, so went to get the keys from Lynn’s purse. Can you imagine the smack in the face I felt, when I found a couple of phone-calling-cards, and two pictures of the guy from a couple years ago, that had nearly ripped us apart? Yeah, that guy. The one that “I’ve not spoken to, chatted with, thought of, in xxxxx time.”

Yeah, the one that during the first seven months of what I call the Hell Time, was a repeated occurance. Lies, evasions, half-truths, but never actually stopping contact.

That, was a nasty, ugly slap in the face. Every old feeling, all the old fears and jealousy and anger, plus the new anger that arose, thinking that all this time, all the work we’d been doing, all the professions of love and newly rekindled relationship, was all false.

But- and this, my friends, is the much more interesting part, to me- I’m still here. I didn’t spiral into a suicidal depression; I didn’t leave; I didn’t kill myself, or her, or him. In fact, I managed to get to church, and do what I needed to do: I prayed. I prayed to God, to let me see what and why this was back, what I needed to do, what was he wanting from or for me.

And, once again- He answered. He answered through the conversation I had with Lynn, later that day, when instead of leaving, I listened. Seems, the purse she’d grabbed from the closet the day before was an old one, not her current one; she needed to use something, because she’d left hers in the car, and it was with one of the kids. So, she grabbed this one, tossed her wallet and keys in it, and did whatever. Forgetting to get the other one from the car, well, who cared? Her point, was that the photos, the calling cards, were old and outdated. They were not anything she kept intentionally, nothing that she cared about.

As we talked, I fought the unease, the disbelief, the doubts that were there, and did my best to listen with the knowledge that I’d gained in the last two years. Knowledge of her love, through the looks she gives me, of the laughing and fun and joy we’ve re-found; of the love, of the play, of the sex and the giddy silliness that we’ve been sharing, all of these things were in my head as I listened, and tried to counter the ugly, horrible, outdated feelings.

And, my friends- I won. It worked, that time the black thing didn’t stand a chance. By that night, we were wrapped in one another’s arms, entwined and loving one another, making love, hugging, talking. Sharing, as we’ve learned to, the bad times- and rejoicing in the good times, celebrating in love, and fighting off the bad.

Totally different reactions, from one year to another; from one guy, to another guy, from a real threat, to an imagined threat, to a past threat, and once more, God told me to stick around, that He’s not done with me yet. As I was thinking about last year, and what a horrible time it was, how depressed I was, I also couldn’t help noticing something else; Yesterday, in the car, I was singing to Beth and Lynn, singing along with a cd we’d made years ago.

Perhaps you know the song, “I can see clearly now”. Well, the line I loved, and actually repeated, because it seemed so fitting: “I think I can make it now, the pain is gone…
All of the bad feelings have disappeared…
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for…
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright sun shiney day.”

Works for me.

Filed under: "cuckoos nest", "mental illness", anniversary, Black Thing, depression, God, lynn, meanderings, progress, razor blade, , , ,

My little boy

So, I am going to boast, brag, wander around with my chest puffed out, look down my nose at all the plebeian people that don’t get to be as proud of their first-born-kids as I do, this day.

Why, you may wonder, why are you so pleased and proud as can be?

No need to wonder for long, I’ll tell you- in fact, I’ll tell the world. In fact, I am, in a sense, telling the world- but you knew that, and you – what’s that? Oh, yeah, get to the point.

I am the proudest father in the world today, because my son Jeremy, at 20, just preached his first sermon. Yes indeed, he did. He’s been toying with the idea for a long time now, (long in 20-year-old years), about going to Seminary, and studying for ordination in the Episcopal Church. Well, it’s been long for us, too, because we’ve known this for him, about him, and with him, from the first stirrings.

A couple of years ago, before he left home for his first year of undergrad work, he approached our Rector, basically saying, “I think I’m going to go to seminary.” This is the same rector that I approached as well, when I wandered in and said “I think I’m supposed to be a priest.” Apparently, this runs in our family- my brother the already-ordained-minister would not be too startled, I don’t think.

Anyway- Jeremy has known this was calling to him for a long time, and has spent the intervening time studying as any college student should, learning about life and love and grades and long-distance relationships and beer and phone home and how to do the laundry. In short, a pretty typical kid, doing very well in school but not so focused he’s not fun, either.

So this summer, as he was casting about for employment (cuz I can’t cover the full load for four years, much as I wish I could), an opportunity came up that was God’s answer to prayers. We had, in our church, been planning on hiring an assistant this year; due to timing, some circumstances with the diocese, and the graduation cycle at the seminary, it wasn’t happening. However, it was proposed to our Vestry that our Rector be allowed to hire a summer intern, instead- and he (the rector) felt that Jeremy would be the perfect choice, if Jeremy was willing to serve in this way. Oh, was he ever!

He’s been busy, following the Rector’s daily routine, meetings and phone calls, pastoral visits and baptisms, assisting at services, helping to plan our summer mission trip. He was involved in Judy’s funeral, and in planning for an upcoming wedding.

And, he’s been scheduled to preach, twice this summer; today, being the first of the two occasions.

There’s something very weirdly incredibly powerful, about sitting in the pews of the church I love so much, watching a normal service underway- until, that is, your own kid, your very own little boy climbs up to the pulpit and begins to speak.

He Was Awesome.

The only way I can describe it, from my point of view anyway. Did you know that my kid was that cool, that he could preach about Rebekah and Isaac and Abraham and the Slave that went to find Rebekah? Well, trust me, he’s that cool, he did a great job. Don’t even have to take just my word for it- I was told, many many times, after the two services, that he did a terrific job and how proud I can be of him.

Naturally, I agreed, because I am terrificly proud of him. And, know what else is really neat? He’s not soo big, that this afternoon, in the winding down, the post-game-stress-relief, so to speak- he can still fall asleep curled up on my bed next to me, as we’re talking about it, and he just drifted off.

So, he’s still my little boy, and I think I like that part, too.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4 other followers

Ancient History