The Eye

Today, I raised up my hand and sang that Jesus conquered the grave.  I was crying while I did it.   If you had been there, you would have been tempted to cry, too, because my voice is not good.

Snarkiness aside, I am reeling right now with all this stuff.  Permit me this cliche, will you?  This whirlwind rages around me but I am in the eye of the storm.  It is scary, and sad, and frankly miserable.  But there is peace here, there is calm.

hurricane-eye-776145

It is Mother’s Day, as I write these words.  This is the first Mother’s Day I have had since my mom died.  Last week would have been her birthday.  Next week will be the anniversary of her death.

Fellowship Church, the community where I found Jesus, is ending.

A pair of my dearest friends, so integral to my faith and my life over this last decade, are leaving.

And yet…

I know that I will see my mom again.

And Fellowship?  It is becoming a campus of Next Level Church.  Representatives from our new affiliation were on hand today.  They seem good people.  And they have something pretty amazing going on.  It seems that they are doing what we, at Fellowship, have longed to do.

And this lovely, amazing couple, they are following God’s call on their lives.  I am so proud of them.

And there is more:

I continue to work on reconciliation and restoration of one of the most important relationships in my life.  And it is good.

And we had been car-less for nearly a year.  We had relied some on public transportation, some on ingenuity, and lots on selfless kindness from amazing people.  It was not easy, and it was often not fun.  And it is over.  Partially through the kindness of awesome people, we have a vehicle.  We were mobile this week end.  It was a joy to go grocery shopping with my wife.

After shopping we had this lovely meal.  We laughed together and nostalgi-cized.  (I don’t care that that word has the red underline telling me it is not a real word.  Don’t be so narrow-minded, spell check.)

I raised up my hands and I sang out this morning, and yes, it probably sounded terrible.  But I was just moved, struck, pierced by this idea that Jesus conquered the grave.

At it’s most basic, this means that we have a victory over our physical death.  But there is so much more!

There is this victory over my mother’s death, as there will be a victory over my own some day.

But also there is a necessary death of this community I love.   And there is victory over this death, too, as it becomes something new.

There is the death of the convenience of seeing my great friends all the time.  But the victory over this death is that these great friends are doing what God built them to do.

These deaths were the winds whirling all around me.  They were real, they were scary.

But there is more than that fear.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

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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