The falling leaves moon is passing and we watch, shudder, and reach for wool as the temperature drops daily. Soon the freezing moon will rise and all will become stiff and still for another season.
Since spring thaw so much has changed my head is spinning.
The church granted funds to seed the community Hub we’d been working on. We hired a Program Director, Laura Redman, gave the Hub a name “Seeds of Change” and all kinds of good new things are beginning to grow in the lower level of the church.
My parents, David and Marion, had decided after returning from Florida one last time, that it was time to move to an institutional residence and let go of the cooking, cleaning, and nursing responsibilities. In June they hosted one last family reunion in their Bobcaygeon home and the next weekend we packed them up and moved them to Princess Gardens in Peterborough.
This is a new stage of life and my siblings and I have been sorting out how we become a caregiving team, supporting our parents through this new dark forest of returning to childhood dependencies. Like Hansel and Gretel they’re enjoying the gingerbread cottage but also must face the wicked witch who boils the cauldron of death and all its associated fears. “I’m not afraid to die” says Lenoard Cohen “its how I get there that scares me.”
My parents are no dummies. They’ve lived lives free of fear and full of faith. They know how to outsmart the witch. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I wll fear no evil.”
A court date was set for my divorce and Lynn and I set a date for our wedding. The death of one relationship and the blossoming of another were mixed up just like the chaotic ecosystem churning of life and death does. There’s no clear path from one to the other but instead a messy jumbling of micro-organisms working invisibly at the mystery of life from death and death from life.
While still dealing with what to do with all the stuff we’d inherited from the shutting down of my parent’s household, we prepared a celebration of the new household Lynn and I had formed. Bringing our two families together for the first time was no small task. Keep it simple and make it fun was our mantra.
We pulled off the party at 3 bros falls with a lot of help from our families. And then six weeks later, after a 3 week road trip to the Rockies, we pulled off another party in Peterborough with a lot of help from our friends.
What is still spinning in me, is the width and breadth and depth of this new household. In addition to my two birth children, I now have thirteen more family members. Lynn’s five children, their spouses and offspring have now had to come up with new names to call me and I them. I’ve entered a new wolf pack. The circling, the testing, the sniffing is done. I’m one of them now. Our fates are meshed. Our storylines entwined. Our destiny as a family unfolding.
Before this new patterning freezes into place with the winter’s forgettings, another death occurs. Lynn’s former husband Henry (now Brother John – having taken the vows of a Monk) dies in a nursing home in Peterborough.
Life is just so messy. Nothing is clean or clear in nature. There are no straight lines. Relationships have circles within circles and arcs so long we hardly notice as we get caught up in the squiggling details of colour, shades, and shadows.
Lynn and I had become estranged from Henry and now found ourselves entering his last days again as walked with his children through their dad’s dying. Our Peterborough home became headquarters for the grieving, the funeral, the planning. Ten of the thirteen crammed into our one-bedroom apartment on Rubidge St. and Lynn and I set up our tent trailer in the driveway. Death commands life. Unavoidable, unbearable, we deal with it each in our own way and together.
I wept at Henry’s funeral. For the friend I’d lost. For the way things went. For the tragedies he’d lived through and for the way he’d handled them in his own unique and poignant ways – his LORD as his compass – his faith his North Star. Mostly I was moved by the grieving of his children. Their love for him swept me off my feet – emotionally.
That night I laughed and drank and performed a garden wedding. Life goes on.
And then I got sick. A chill got hold of me. Buckets of snot accumulated out of nowhere and poured from my head. An irritation settled deep in my lungs that stung every time my body tried to cough it out. A bug. A seasonal diversion from the path of productivity. A sidelining of my health and strength and will to live.
And now a time of settling in. The green leaves of spring’s blossoming now fall like the memories of each summer’s hours. They pile up. They frost over. They begin to become the compost of next year’s living.
The church has posted a call for a permanent minister. I’ve been discerning whether to apply. Asking for opinions in coffee shops. Watching for signs on mountaintops. Wondering what great curve of God’s work is calling me to do my part, add my voice, offer my efforts?
Before the freezing moon, I’ll dust off my resume. I’ll give it to George Street church and send it out into the universe too. When spring arrives I’ll know. But while winter works its forgetting. While woodsmoke curls up from last year’s cutting, chopping and stacking, I’ll dream. I’ll dream of that one last mountain to climb. That one that stands between me and the western shore.
And when I’m not dreaming, I’ll keep working at waking up. I’m more awake now than I’ve ever been. And I see now, more than ever before, how the Spirit, the Shekinah of god’s shattered glory in this world, is always with us. Remember, says Moses. Remember, says Jesus. Remember, says the bedrock beneath my feet. Remember. From death comes life. And so the circle turns.