Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rejoicing in Ordinariness

Finally!  I have not written in this blog for over a month.  This may be the longest break I have ever taken from writing here.  And I have to confess that it is because I was going through a time of desolation.

Just writing that is a confession.  Because I fall prey to the delusion that because I am an ordained minister, a spiritual director and an avowed optimist that somehow I should (that's a loaded word!) be exempt from times of desolation.  Especially when I am retired with a sufficient pension, in good enough health, with a loving husband and close family.  Why should I be desolate?

Last Sunday I went to the church I have been attending with Marnie and her kids and afterward spent much of the day in my form of compulsive behavior - eating, playing computer games and watching Law And Order SVU.  Finally at the end of the day I could not sleep and was able to really identify the feelings that I have been avoiding.  And it is a sense of disconnection.  And there are a whole lot of ways in which I feel disconnected.  Later in the week I wrote in my journal about feeling "Unmoored".  Here is what I wrote in my journal

I see a boat at twilight
 - in the soft grey mist of the evening
 - floating untethered from the dock
 - the water lapping at the sides
  - a rope floating in the water 
 - it is unanchored

Where does it belong?
 - is there a slip somewhere?
 - it is adrift
 - it is unmoored. 


As I saw this image I wanted to "solve the problem"  except
 - my children do not need me
 - there is no church for me to serve
 - there is no plce to work
 - there is no uniform to put on
 - there is no office with my name on the door
 - there is no task to do today
 - there is no deadline looming.

I think of my most favorite poem/ prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - "Who am I?"
And I think - who am I?
Am I the one who goes to churches and preaches with confidence, or the one who sits in meetings with assurance, or the grandmother who listens and laughs and drives kids around
Or am I a woman waiting for something more, feeling, irrelevant and inadequate.  Wondering where I fit and where I belong now?

As I ponder honestly these essential questions and talk to my retired friends I hear echos of my own story./  And at the same time I continue to try to be faithful.  To be HERE with God even as I feel empty and confused. To read, to write, to pray.

As I write this I know that something is stirring within me.  I have found myself playing the piano for the first time in years and that is bringing some sense of creativity and peace.  As I ponder the situations that cause me pain write now - both the challenges of the regional church and the concern over the nation under the leadership of Donald Trump - I believe that I need to step back from judgment and gossip and negativity and trust God is at work here in unseen ways.  And I continue to read, to pray and now again to write about the reality and the messiness of the spiritual path. 

This morning I returned to a book by Richard Rohr that I have been slowly reading - Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi and this  really spoke to me:

"This core Christ Identity was made into a worthiness contest. or moral contest, at which almost no one wins and so most do not even try.  Francis and Clare undid the whole contest by rejoicing in their ordinariness and seeming unworthiness - which I believe is the core freedom of the Gospel itself.  And I must say it again: this is something you can only fall into and receive - and nothing that you can achieve, which utterly humiliates the ego, the willful, and all overachievers."

And so, this morning as I have put laundry in the washing machine, cleaned the kitchen, and spent time in prayer I rejoice in my own ordinariness.  Trusting that God is bringing me closer to the harbor where I will find peace and a place to serve.

Here is that wonderful prayer by Bonhoeffer:

"Who am I?  They often tell me
I stepped from my cell's confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
freely and friendly and clearly,
as through it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing
My throat, yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person to-day and to-morrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely question of mine,
Whoever I am, Thou Knowest, O God, I am thine."

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