Awkward in Heaven

The thing that nudged me to go to the cemetary was my mom. She is dying.
I wanted to start a dialogue about death with my youngest. It will be hard on him. (And me too.)
His paternal grandmother and paternal grandfather are both buried there. No, they are not next to each other. My family is not that weird. However, grandpa is buried next to his first wife, from 30 years ago. That sounds all nice and romantic. Except when he passed on, grandpa was married to his second wife. She is still around. Apparently they plan to bury her next to her first husband. I wonder if the four of them will get together in the afterlife and play rummy. So, it all is a little wierd.
My grandfather died walking into his bedroom, planning to set back the clock as it was just after day light savings. Sometimes I think about that magical, lost hour. I imagine his soul is riding that hour like a wave.
Anyway, I digress.
Because my dad was with us, we had an easy time finding Grandma’s grave. We spent some time there, and then we were ready to move on. (For details, see the last post.)
I thought maybe this would be the more difficult one for my boy.
Grandpa died much more recently. He and Ethan had a pretty special bonds. I still see these little reflections of my grandfather in him. Sometimes, when he is surprised, Ethan’s eyes go so crazy-wide that his forehead skin wrinkles. So much like grandpa.
My grandfather’s death was the beginning of some hard times for my son. I had a little trepidation about the whole exercise, in truth… but waiting to long, and being unprepared, I think I’d rather not err on that side.
We wandered long enough that we had nearly given up. And suddenly there the tombstone was, right in our path as we headed back to the car.
I know this would be better writing if I had some great epiphany here. But if there is one, it will come later. I am wanting to share this process, of learning how to die, of teaching my kids how to die. This is just an early step on the journey.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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