Do you think it’s possible to be totally okay – and totally not okay – at the same time?
That seems to be the only way to describe the way i am right now. I’m totally okay and totally not.
Have you ever been in a place where much of what you’d taken for granted has disappeared? You feel like the wheels have come off. You grind to a halt. You can’t see how you’re gonna move forward and without forward motion – you become disoriented. Who you are is in question. Without what you do – your identity changes and along with it – everything that was once familiar now looks quite different.
A member of the church lost her husband this week. Her one true love. The man she shared her love of life with. In the span of a few short months – the wheels came off her car. She is reeling. She is only just beginning to see that the way she walks through each day – has changed completely.
I’m experiencing something of the same. I’m grieving the loss of a marriage. It has completely disoriented me. The ground I walk on, the place I lay my head to rest - is now strange. It has put everything into question. Who I am and what I do. The wheels have come off. I’ve ground to a halt. I’ve burned out.
In the hospital with my friend, my colleague, the member of my church who was facing her loss, she spoke of a deep calm in the midst of her storm. She seemed to shine with an inner light. She spoke of a sense of being cared for.
I said “isn’t that the promise of Scripture? That when you invest yourself in the way of trusting GOD – then - no matter what changes occur – you will be cared for, lifted up, carried.”
“though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” she said.
And so - with the wheels off – we discover that we’ve sprouted wings. My experience is that even though I feel in many ways confused and disoriented – I also feel completely okay. I have a sense that I am still on the way, that even though I can’t see what my next steps are, that I am being helped and cared for and led.
The caring comes in many ways, shapes and forms. It comes with skin on – in the form of the kindness and grace of friends, family, and supportive and kind church members. That brings tears to my eyes in thanksgiving.
The caring also comes without skin. In so many ways, the MAKER is letting me know that I am not alone. Birds, a fox, a badger, a gust of wind all at just the right moment. There’ve been dreams – I’ll tell you more of these later – and guides have confirmed what the dreams have told with gifts of affirmation – perfectly timed.
It’s as if a winter storm has torn away a huge branch from my trunk. It’s left a wide open scar that’s exposed all the inner layers - built up over the years right down to where the sap runs. I’m bleeding and wondering how the sap is gonna keep making it up to those branches still there?
But we’ve got roots. Roots that no storm can touch. Roots that grip an unseen rock and won’t let go.
It’s Easter. It’s Easter for fifty days til Pentecost’s spirit comes in power to reveal the unspeakable hope in every language known and in the language of heaven on earth.
The Easter story is about knowing Jesus without skin on. Some see him. Some hear him. Some eat the bread he breaks, the fish he cooks. Some even touch him. Each according to their need to know. Jesus continues to teach, empower, heal, and bless – but now without the limits of who he had been – now released to reach from the infinite into our moments. “Blessed are those who know without seeing” the gospel story says.
I’m paraphrasing the Irish poet priest John O’Donahue here:
Every place you stand in the world – you’re standing in a circle. When you stand in a high place – the horizon reveals the circle of the earth’s curve. Even in the low places – the night sky reveals the turning orb of spinning stars. In Celtic spirituality G_D is the ultimate circle that contains it all. G_D is not outside of us – far from the reach of hurting and sorry sinners - but we dwell within the circle of our souls and we dwell within all that is turning ever new within the MAKER’s creation.
I’ll give the final word today to another poet priest. This one’s the Canadian Jean Vanier – writing about L’Arche – the global network of communities created to live with - and learn from - people who are physically and mentally disabled. He writes in his book “Community and Growth”
“Visitors are often astonished at the joy they sense at L’Arche.
It surprises me too because I know how much suffering some
people in our communities are carrying. I wonder then if all joy
doesn't somehow spring from suffering and sacrifice. Can those
who are rich and live in comfort and security with everything
they need, and refuse to be close to those who are suffering,
be truly joyful?
- Jean Vanier, Community and Growth p.316