I came across a picture today of 8 Years ago when we were having our “Last supper” as a family around our table in Winfield before we sent Addie off to college. 8 Years and I swear I have not adapted to having an adult daughter; maybe I’ve adapted to it but most of the time I still feel that ache for our home. Our Winfield home was wonderful and full of life and friends and too many pets. My hobby and passion was my rose garden in the front and the little wildflower garden out by the bluebird houses. We spent each evening around the campfire in the back and took nightly walks through our “Tall Grass Prairie” path.
I moved to Colorado during Stephen’s senior year of high school. James and Stephen stayed in Winfield to finish out public school. They did a great job together, but it was extra difficult for me to be in a new “temporary” home and in a brand new job. I didn’t know who I was or what I was without having my children under my roof; I spent my time investing in being the best Pastor I could be and didn’t do any figuring out who I was.
It is strange to think that I am finally finding a new normal. And now the entire world has changed so I need to find a new new normal. And occasionally, pictures like the one I found from 8 years ago pop up and remind me of how beautiful our lives are, how rich and complete our days are when we spend them with family and friends. We love where we live and what we do when we have the right focus and then — oh, how fortunate to truly love where we live.
I’ve taken a week of reflection and introspection. It’s been a very difficult time — it was my first real taste of what many of you experienced during the shut down. I was so busy during the shut-down I never had time for reflection. Or should I say, I didn’t MAKE time for reflection. Because reflection can be very difficult (who really wants a mirror held up in front of them with all those things that are shoved way down deep in our selves?). And honestly, though I knew I was exhausted and empty, I knew if I stopped I would have to deal with all this grief.
Grief over my father (died 30 years ago) and mother (died nearly 10 years ago) and what I always felt was “Home.” Goodness, I am fifty one years old and I still feel the brief years of birth through 18 are “home?” Since then I’ve created five beautiful, colorful homes where people are always welcome and where James and I nurtured and tried to cocoon Addie and Stephen. And I have a homesickness for them as well.
Grief over how quickly my own Thing One and Thing Two become their very own selves and how proud I am of them but also how much I wish they were actually right here under my roof every night so I knew they were safe and sound and that they went to bed every night knowing they were loved and safe.
Grief over the world and what we have lost and how we need to move forward and figure out how to keep everyone around us loved and safe.
Father Richard Rohr says this homesickness (where all my grief comes back to) is what we feel when we are missing being in the presence of God. I think of this feeling and the presence of God as the Divine Mystery. Our world here is full of liminal spaces where we can tangibly reconnect with that Mystery. Sometimes it happens with a community, sometimes in a place of Natural Wonder, and sometimes when you are silenced by the beauty of something made by human hands — but your heart is warmed and healed and your senses are heightened and you feel right then that everything actually is okay. You feel, for the moment, that you are right where you belong and you belong right where you are.
Liminal spaces are thin. We can’t live our lives in that closeness to God or we would never want to be in the muck of our day-to-day grind. Those spaces might be thin, but they can actually be every where, so ultimately when our day-to-day grind allows more space for the Divine Mystery than it does the muck, our every day moments become more and more holy.
Through many tears, much confession with God, much openness to grace I have started grieving. It is as if the floodgates have opened and I can finally feel and mourn and cry and scream out in angsty teenage-style groans. I think it is making up for all the times I have lifted my chin and just kept on going.
I guess every now and then you have to stop and cry. Toddlers do it without any apparent reason. They become overwrought with whatever it is and they sit down and have a good cry. But then they either fall asleep or get up and move on. I’ve been falling asleep too much.
What I’m learning and re-learning and reminding myself is that I truly love where I live now. Most of the time I am still in so much “Awe” of the mountains and the wildflowers and the aspen trees and the freshly running clear water in our streams and creeks to even settle in. I don’t want to “get used to it” because I never want to take it for granted.
I adore my congregation and honestly am just now able to feel the devastating effects of CoVid on our community and church.
I don’t know why I’m writing this so publicly. I don’t really want sympathy or encouragement (people are always generously loving me and expressing their hearts — thank you). I guess I just want you to know it’s hard right now. Not just for me — for all of us. And I get it. Wherever you are in life. Whatever big changes you’re experiencing within the big changes we are all experiencing. It’s hard.
But we will come through this and we will work towards making our home a little more like the Kin-dom of God. I like “Kin” dom rather than “King”dom. God’s family was never meant to look like a kingdom — it was supposed to look and feel as close to home as we can get while we are on this mortal coil.
What can each of us do today to make our new normal more full of Liminal Spaces, where we can touch base with that ultimate source of LOVE? We have the choice as we rebuild — will we leave more room for the muck or for the holy moments?
I’m choosing to give myself into the Divine Mystery. Will you join me?