Living. And dying.

Last night, I was just overcome with feelings.
I realize that might not seem like very good writing. “Feelings” is a vague word. Upon reading that, perhaps you wonder, “Well, just what feelings were you overcome with?”
And that, my friends, is kind of the point, today. I was overcome with feelings. It’s not so much that they were abstract. And there have been times that I have been overwhelmed with a dazzling array of different feelings that conflicted with each other and just left me wordless.
This wasn’t like that. For one thing, I can’t say a lot about what feelings that were all mixed up together. It was something like all of them. And also, it was like none of them. Maybe it’s getting warm to say that I was overcome with emotionality. I was weepy, but not crying. And I was aware of God’s presence in a profound way, but it wasn’t only a God-thing.
These feelings, thoughts, and memories came together. It was like the swirling together of a bunch of air fronts that brings about a storm. Or the coming together of two elements that make a totally different compound. It was a collision of sorts, an explosion, almost… but not violent, really.
This is the first Christmas I have ever had with out my mom. That was one of the things that came together in my mind. The sadness I have.
A while ago, when somebody amazing passed away… somebody amazing, but not as close as mom to the center of my life, I had this epiphany. The woman who died then, she was this force of kindness and goodness. We all deferred to her, in some ways, as a voice of wisdom and compassion. I saw, when Pauline passed away, that we were all called to step up our game, some. I saw that in her passing there was a challenge to us, that maybe we would not have risen to, if Pauline was still with us in this life.
I saw, as I sat there, the other night, that this was no less true of my mom. And I saw that I have spent these last months in a sort-of stupor. Some things have happened. Some things I have let happen. I have backed up and away from anything.
I am not being all mean to myself or beating myself up for that. It was what it was. I did not see what I was doing then. I do, now. I see that there is… room for me, to step up. But what I had been doing is stepping back, or stepping down, or stepping away.
I suppose I could stretch the metaphor a bit, and say that maybe I made room for myself to make a running start in that same direction I should have been moving in all along.
I am trying to be bravely transparent her. So I want to admit that it is not just sadness but fear. There is a part of me that I think was trying to keep her alive by shutting down. It’s like, “See mom? I need you. I still need you.”
But the best of me knows how she would feel about that. She would be gentle with me about these last bunch of months. And she would encourage me to step into this new world I am entering. She would not want me to hold myself back.
In fact, thats a much better way to honor her life. I do believe we live on in that next life. But also, we live on in this life, in a symbolic, less literal way. I can embody her, bring her wisdom and kindness into me, live in a new way by reacting with the things I learned from her, and in that way she is living on through me.


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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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