Monday, May 17, 2010

more than I imagined

It is Monday morning and I am still rumminating and marveling over the weekend.
It was fun, fascinating and tiring. A great experience that I think may be a touchstone for me.

We started the weekend by driving to Lebanon Ohio where we lived from 1989-91. Kacey and Marnie and I were in the van and met Audrey later in the evening at the motel. We went by the house we lived in and spoke to the people who reside there now. We were the first occupants of the home and the development was brand new. The girls had so many happy memories of living there. We also went by their school where Marnie and Kacey were in kindergarten through third grade. It was interesting to hear them talk about what they remembered. We also took lots of pictures.

We had dinner with Pattie where they reminisced about their dad's parents who were very important to them during these years. What I learned about this first stop was remembering a young family starting out. An ambitious dad and supportive mom who loved their kids.

At our next stop - in Columbus - the girls also had many wonderful membories as well. This is when I started to hear stories that were new to me. Some of them were from events I no longer remembered and other were stories of things the girls did that I did not know. A lot of fun riding bikes and a lot of freedom for them as we lived in Upper Arlinington. This is was the time that our marriage was starting to come apart. Chbris was getting ready to start a brand new business, and I had moved from just being support to going to work and then to seminary. We were definitely going in different directions but the girls were having fun and learning and growing. Going back to Tremont School and seeing the playground and the swimming pool triggered a lot of good memories for all of us.

The next stop was Zanesville and we drove past the old house and spent time in the mall. Again the girls had more freedom as they used to walk to the mall and enjoy the neighborhood behind the house. This was a time of a lot of turmoil in my life - divorce, first full time job in ministry, and a remarriage that was too fast and a mistake. At the same time for the girls, their dad was not around as he had been and he too had a remarriage that was a mistake. One of the great sources of stability for me and the girls was the church. We worshipped Sunday morning at First Christian Church in Zanesville and saw so many of the people who had been caring people to the girls during all of this. What surprised me was how good their memories were of those years and how important Zanesville itself was to them.

We moved away from there in 1990 when I went to become the pastor at First Christian Church in Bowling Green. It was a move at the wrong time for Kacey and Marnie - both in high school. It was a move to a more educated community and a better school. On the surface some wonderful blessings. But it was a mixed bag for them.
This trip brought up some painful memories of those years. And it was enlightening for me on so many levels.

We can't undo the past and so many things are unavoidable perhaps. When I grew up we moved several times during my childhood - most notably between my 11th and 12th grade years. I have always said that it was ultimately a blessing - helping me to identify with the outsider - because I certainly experienced that.

As much as the divorces and remarriages - I think the moves were most problemmatical for the girls. But as they continue to reflect I imagine they will see more in who they are now because of what they went through then.

This is an incredible journey - the zig zag journey of moving forward and trying to follow God's leading and the journey of looking backward and reflecting on the meaning and the lessons of it all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Memory Weekend

My memory weekend with my daughters is almost here.
We leave tomorrow to meet in Lebanon Ohio. I am really looking forward to this.

Six months ago when I was driving to Cincinnati for a wedding we passed Lebanon Ohio where we lived 1979 - 1981 and on a whim I asked Chuck to go home through Lebanon. Would you believe that I could not remember where we lived and could not find the house? We drove past the Golden Lamb restaurant and the church we attended but could not find the house!

At the same time I had just taken a workshop on NLP - Neuro Linguistic Programming which talked about memories that are in our bodies and in places. And that we can go back and revisit and remember.

From both of these ideas I came upon the idea of revisiting my past with my daughters so that we could remember together. What I have learned through being with my siblings is that we remember different things about our past and we can help each other reconnect to the events of the past. So, tomorrow the girls and I take a weekend and visit the homes, schools and places of our past from 1979 - 2002. They have, of course, been formative years for the girls and years of joy, struggle, and growth for me as well.

We will have cameras and journals and questions for reflection and lots of time together - going from Lebanon to Columbus to Zanesville to Bowling Green. It is surely going to be an adventure.

On my sabbatical I am going to do more of this - with my own story - going back to where I grew up with my brothers and to where I went to college. God speaks to us through our stories - and remembering is so important.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Books

Free shipping does me in and encourages me to buy more books. And this month, that has been a blessing. I had to buy a book for class from and bought an extra to get free shipping, and then I found a gift card for $10 from Barnes and Noble and bought more books to get free shipping. And am delighted by my purchases.
I want to recommend three books that I am currently reading slowly.

These are all spiritual books and the best way to read them is a little bit at a time and allow them to settle into our minds and souls. I frequently start the day reading one of these.

1. THE WAY TO LOVE by Anthony DeMello. This is a little, little book and is the last meditations of him. Anthony DeMello is a Catholic priest whose writings are profound. I first read THE SONG OF THE BIRD by him and it continues to have an important place in my library. The most important book of his for me, however, has been AWARENESS. That has been a great blessing in my understanding of self and God. This little book is a gem. The very first chapter spoke to the hollowness of a life living for approval - and I was hooked.

2. THE NAKED NOW: Learning to See as the Mystics See. by Richard Rohr. His books EVERTYING BELONGS is aother one that I go back to at least once a year. This one is also speaking to me. here is a quote:
"In the West, religion became preoccupied with telling peple what to know more than how to know, telling people what to see more than how to see. We ended up seeing Holy Things faintly, trying to understand great Things with a whittled-down mind, and trying to love God with our own small and divided heart. it has been like trying to view the galaxies with a $5 pair of binoculars.
...Contemplation, my word for this larger seeing, keeps the whole field open; it remains vulnerable before the moment the event, or the person - before ti divides and tries to conquer or control it."

3. SPIRITUAL DIRECTION by Henri Nouwen with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird Henri Nouwen's students write about his teachings on spiritual direction. I have already quoted in this blog from this book. It is a treasure.

So, what I keep learning is how important it is to put these kinds of thoughts and ideas into my mind as I begin the day and as I reflect on the day. I recommend all of these books - probably one at a time would make more sense than what I am doing. But they are so good I keep picking up all three throughout the day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Control and Heartbreak

Yesterday as I talked to a friend she said: "I can't control him and I am heartbroken."

I have thought about that this morning. I think that is where we live so often and it is a hard place to be. But that is where we end up.

We have so many relationships where we see people who are missing the mark or missing the point.
For example,I see spouses who ignore each other's needs or parents who don't recognize that their grown children still need their attention. I see people who are living with addicted people or people who are addicted and seem completely unaware. I see folks who have real problems n the horizon - work or health issues - and seem to be ignoring what is coming.

And we have to watch. Because we don't have control over other people and even though we want to advise, warn and criticize - unless asked for it is unwanted and counterproductive.
I just read this by Henri Nouwen
"Spiritual directos can direct only when there are seekers who come with a question. Without a question, an answer is experienced as manipulation or control.
Without a struggle, the help offered is considered interference.

That is true not just of spiritual direction - but all our relationships.
Which leads us with heartbreak. Loving someone and wanting more for them and knowing that you cannot be the one to help - but caring deeply.
I am grateful for my faith that leads me into prayer at these times so that I don't feel helpless.

and of course, as I write about the people who are missing the mark and missing the point, I know I am also writing about myself. So as I write this, I am grateful for those who pray for me in my muddled state and feel blessed for those times when I
(and we) have the sense to ask the questions, to wait for the answers and receive a sort of illumination for the time being.

End with another quote by Henri Nouwen
"Live the questions until God, sometimes like lightning, reveals enough guidance to enable you to live confidently in the present moment."