Ponder God

A funny thing happened today. I was watching the Glee Christmas special (which overall I thought was kind of sub-par, but whatev…), and found myself getting a bit misty eyed. It was when Roy, the Irish exchange student, read a small portion of the Christmas story. The phrase that got me was at the very end:

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.'”

I have heard these words so many times I could recite them in my sleep, but for some reason, listening to them spoken in such a non-religious context made them stand out to me in a fresh way. I love that God’s message to the world as he is born into it is neither a battle cry nor a condemnation, but peace and good will. I sat on the couch holding the remote control and feeling amazed at the way God extends himself toward people.

I feel like I have more questions than answers when it comes to God these days. I often find myself hung up on the finer points of theology and morality, confused about the reasoning behind many of the things I’ve been taught, and unsure about whether to trust my own intuitive and (I think) Spirit-led inner compass or the words and traditions of the centuries of believers before me. These things keep me up at night sometimes.

What I don’t find myself questioning is his character. His message on the first Christmas confirms what I have learned from experience: I know that he is good. He is merciful. He is forgiving, compassionate, holy, just. I know that he exists for himself and not for me, but that he gave himself up for me. I know that he holds the ultimate answers to my questions, and that in many cases he simply is the answer. I also have a sneaking suspicion that while I spend the rest of my life putting together and tearing apart my various conceptions of him, running in spiritual circles, he will be watching me with a smile and one day, he will greet my eternal self with his huge, kind, complete answer: “I AM.”

I think I will breathe a sigh of relief.

In the meantime, I take great comfort in the knowledge that I am his. I can ask any questions, test any theories, form wrong convictions all day long if I want, and it will not change my status as a beloved child, adopted at great cost to himself. There is such freedom in that. I am his and he is mine.

Count your blessings

Life has been very heavy lately. But not just heavy. There’s a constant undercurrent of sorrow and pain punctuated with frequent moments of total bliss, joy, hilarity, and contentment. Kind of a weird juxtaposition, but that’s my life right now.

Today I would like to focus on the good moments. So. Here are some things that are making me happy:

1. I just wrote a check for $2.25 because Herkimer Coffee does not accept cards. This feels slightly ridiculous (the check-writing part) but I kind of like it too, because, you know what, it is kind of dumb to use a card to buy three dollars’ worth of coffee. Next time I will remember and bring cash. And my americano is delicious.

2. Our housewarming party was a smashing success. I wore purple tights and drank beer and cranberry cider and laughed a lot.

3. Love is a beautiful thing.

4. Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah” is currently playing in the coffee shop. If you’ve known me any length of time you will know that I wholeheartedly believe this to be the most beautiful song ever recorded. Don’t even try to argue it with me. You will lose.

5. My brothers and I live in the same area for the first time in our adult lives, and I just like them so much. Isn’t it fun to realize that your siblings are just really cool people? People that you actually want to be around? I think so. Continue reading

Live in the present

My dad is going to die.

Those words cross my mind about once every ten minutes and each time, my entire future, suddenly missing a crucial piece, rushes toward me like the starry sky at warp speed. It’s dizzying, nauseating. In the blur I see my yet-to-be-conceived children who will never know their grandfather. I see future holidays without his voice to read stories and give blessings. I see the countless decisions and questions that I will have to face without my best source of wisdom, my father.

It is too much to bite off. Too much grief to handle at once.

I find myself wanting to plan ahead in this, to squeeze as much Dad-ness out of him as possible and store pieces of him for later in hopes that it might shield me from some of the pain that is to come. But it’s not possible. I can never soak up so much of him that I will not feel his absence when he is gone. The loss will be devastating, and there’s nothing I can do to prevent it. I can’t even think that far ahead without being crushed under the weight of the loss I have yet to experience. I lack the strength to take on future months and years of grief today.

I would like to practice living in the present. He’s still here today, after all. He can still talk to me, text me, hug me. It would be tragic to miss opportunities to spend time with him now because I am so distraught about the future.

This is awful, but God has promised to give me the strength to face each day as it comes. I made it through today, and trust that tomorrow morning my supply will be replenished once again. One day at a time.

Cope, pt. 2

Cancer is a steam engine train, barreling forcefully ahead, unstoppable.

Just a few months ago I stood on its tracks unwittingly, unaware of the rumble in the distance and unprepared for the collision that would sweep me away from the sweet normalcy of my daily life. From the moment of impact I have been changed forever.

It seems that I will never see my dad well again. That knowledge is rocking me. I am not ready for what is to come.

People keep asking how I’m doing, and I have no answer. I guess I’m tired. I’m sad often but in short bursts. I feel normal (or at least numb) most of the time. I’m happy sometimes. I cope by continuing with life; going to work, drinking coffee, watching TV, buying a new sweater.

I breathe in and out. I cry, I laugh, I shout, I sit.

I feel like I should say something about God’s abounding love and provision because that would be the wise perspective to take, but I just can’t. This feels too wrong. I’m not losing my faith, I just can’t speak gushingly about it right now. God will still be with me.

Move, pt. 2

I am now officially a Seattle resident.

(this is my bedroom. obviously.)

Well…okay, not officially. I haven’t gone to the DMV or filled out a change of address form (oops…I should probably get on that), but I do actually live in this beautiful emerald city, in a house with four other women, close to lots of cool businesses, and not far from views of gorgeous bodies of water and “the mountain” I grew up around (Rainier).

Thanks to the help of many amazing people, I survived the moving ordeal. They packed up the UHaul for me and helped me clean my apartment, and my brother Eric even drove the truck all the way across the state for me. Talk about amazing support.

It was very, very difficult to say goodbye. All last weekend I felt as if I was on the verge of a major emotional meltdown, but I didn’t have time or energy to indulge in that, so instead of letting even one tear loose, I just pushed my sadness down and kept moving. It was what I had to do. But each time I said goodbye (or more accurately “see you later”) to another person who has changed my life over the last few years, I felt my heart crack open a little more. Continue reading

Stand in paradox

You are capable of holding conflicting emotions, dual realities, within your heart at once.

You sever a relationship, and grief and joy reside side by side in equal strength.

You receive tragic news with mingled sorrow and peace.

You prepare to take on a new adventure, leaving the place that has been your home, unable to comprehend how you will live without the people who have shaped and cared for you, the routines that have given rhythm to your days, and the streets that have been your life’s paths, and equally unable to imagine staying.

It’s not a matter of living between the two. It is living in both places. Both emotions, both realities.

Your heart may burst with loss and love.

The past roots and the future calls.

Marry well

This week, My dear friend Noree got married.

Noree and David’s wedding was absolutely beautiful. Rich in sacredness and full of the vibrancy that is Noree’s mark on everything she touches. We prayed and sang and danced and laughed, and celebrated the beginning of their life together.

Then, six days later (last night), the beautiful Alessandra married her love, Jason.

Alessandra and Jason’s wedding was an all-out celebration. The wine, conversation, and laughter flowed freely and an eclectic group of family and friends sent them into their life as husband and wife. In the ten years I’ve known her, I’ve never seen her glow so brightly. Continue reading