Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grief Weary

Oh, here comes another wave I didn’t expect.

Acute grief leaves the rest of me feeling numb,
Hazy as the initial racking stabs pass and the dull ache settles in

“I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me. Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for.”
(There are so many songs about kneeling or falling down before God.)

It’s funny…the result is only that we as the worshippers fall on our knees before our Sovereign Lord. The reason for the fall isn’t there. Sure, it could be voluntary – a natural response to seeing the glory and beauty of God…but I’m in a place where I identify with a heart that is broken and exhausted. Mayhap the singers have done his or her best to go it alone in their own strength, finding themselves only more and more empty, more and more lonely, more and more wounded. The race becomes a crawl.
Me? I just feel broken – as if I’ve had my legs taken out from underneath me and all I can do is fall on my knees, begging God to be all that I live for. The kind of pain that takes you to your knees. The, “Oh God it hurts!” kind of pain.

Heartache and hardship do wonderful things for revealing the stuff swirling around in your heart, and for helping you to realign your priorities. I need God so very badly right now. Only His peace will calm my heart.

“Lord you are good and your mercies endureth forever…rejoice in the Lord always! And again I say, and again I say rejoice!”

Worship songs serve as a form of thanks in the good time, and a reminder in the bad. His mercies endureth forever. He is good. Period. With no beginning or end, He simply is. And we are called to rejoice always – because no matter what our circumstances may be, no matter how dark our night may look, His mercies and love rain down on us.


And now for bed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Love, Pain; Mountains; Imitations, and Reader Response Theory.

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa

...I find that so comforting and affirming.

Driving home on the 55 North today the clear, bright blue sky held tangible clouds. Cool air blew in through my slightly open window and the mountains loomed in the distance, snow capped - beckoning and warning in the same stance - purple in majesty and obscurity. The view on the 57 North afforded me lush, rolling green hills. They looked friendly.
I thought of Norse mythology (not that I've studied any, but JR Tolkien did...or maybe it was C.S. Lewis...or maybe it was both) and The Lord of the Rings.

I'm reading The Imitation of Christ. I haven't gotten past the intro yet, but already I'm delighted. The editor spoke of it as being a breath of fresh's so true. Also, he talked about Reader Response theory and I geeked out a bit - with fond memories of Contemporary Literary Theory. It feels good to know that I retained (and actually use) information that I learned in school.

...I guess that's all for now.

Tender Heart

My mom said I'm a "tender heart"...

I thought to do an image search for a potential new profile pic.


and this:

It's hard to decide which one fits better.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Get it.


My dad said that sometimes grief leaves you sideways. I understand that in concept, but don't think I fully comprehended the fullness of the statement until tonight.

It's like one of those games where you place your forehead on the end of a baseball bat and then spin around in circles until you feel sick....with the idea that you are then supposed to run forward to the finish line.

In life, one will merrily be going along their way when grief sideswipes them, leaving them stumbling...doing their very best to move forward, but spending most of their energy just trying not to fall down.

The "stumbling" and "careening" takes several forms: anger, tears, exhaustion, the need to take care of everybody else, sarcasm, laughter, self-absorption...
I'm still trying to think of more - from my own experience and from others.

Peaks and valleys. I laugh in the peaks, I cry in the valleys. The tears flow easy. I'm waiting for stable to return...but I'm not giving myself a deadline for that one.
It's interesting - I was able to allow myself the freedom from guilt over not crying yesterday. The thing I keep getting caught up on (or feeling guilty over) is my laughter. My humor is dark - boarder line angry and sarcastic. See me stumble sideways.

I wish people just knew without me having to talk about it. I'm tired of talking. Once I start, it seems I can't stop. Or I get pity. I don't want pity. I want compassion. I want prayers for my family. But I am so ____ tired of trying to be strong - and knowing that while I'm doing it I'm trying to be strong...when I don't have to. It's okay for me to fluctuate - to feel "okay" at one moment, and then a few hours to not be okay. I'm just rolling in the waves of grief, not trying to fight or control them - as if I could. I want people to know or understand what I'm going through and then just be with me.

So, I'm here...just trying to figure this out. It's nice that my stress-level has lowered enough to the point where I can organize/express my thoughts (verbally or written) a little better. I just wish...I wish...

I wish I understood myself a little bit better. I wish I understood why I feel this way...
Yes, it's the loss of a relationship. It's the ultimate "goodbye" (or "see you later" in this case) for the girl whose always hated goodbyes. It's helping those I care about carry their grief - and I really wouldn't have it any other way. But, relationally speaking, Bill wasn't integrally involved in my life. I've lost a step-grandparent: a tiding of things to come for the rest of my family, my friends, my loved ones, and for myself (and my descendants). Death - it gets us all in the end. But still, I don't know why I feel it this my friend put it, "torn up."

Numbness is death. In this life, you're either living or you're dying. There is no in-between. Things that live feel (the question of plants aside). If you're not feeling, you're not living.

I feel like I need to be writing. It helps me clear and keep track of my thoughts. And I've had so many of them lately, they almost seem to be jumbled. Almost. I'm actually amazed at my ability to keep track of it all, actually...

(I know. It's abrupt. But so is...nevermind. I'm just sideways again.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday.

"Ashes to ash, dust to dust."

* * *

The cross and all other representations of Christ covered in purple cloth - the color of mourning, the color of royalty.

Incense - God's presence.

The sign of the cross on my forehead in ash.
"Remember you are but dust, and to dust you will return."

The communal confession of sins.

Incense again - God's blessing.

Bowing - a sign of respect and humility. The removing of hats every time Christ's name was mentioned, another sign of respect and a rich tie to the heritage of the Anglican church. And it wasn't just dead tradition - it was ritual alive in richness.

The sacrament of communion. The priest held up the bread and broke it. The cracking sound resounded - a reminder of what breaking the body meant. I told myself to remember what was said to me as I received the blessing, but it slipped a few minutes later. We drank wine. It had the strength and the bite that wine carries, but it was oh-so sweet. It was strong, it was bold, it was not "safe." A picture of the cross through taste.

I've forgotten what the hymns said already, but I know that the next-to-last one talked about how we are all in the process of death - that we are only here for such a short time. And then, in the last verse we sang about being newborn in Christ.

I've had such a mix of death and life today.

Saying goodbye to the body of Bill this morning, saying goodbye to the person of Bill two days ago. And at the hospital, they play a lullaby over the intercom every time a baby is born. Monday, Kathryn (now 3 years old) played hide-and-go-seek with me in the entrance while baby Claire (now 6 months) slept. Today, only Claire was there - a beacon of joy, peace, and life in a room of death and mourning. She was such a comfort.
But he is no longer in pain. He is truly free with God now.

At church tonight, all walks of life gathered, and families with infants received the sign of the ashen cross on their forehead reminding them of their own mortality and of the mortality of their children.

We are all in the process of dying, and in Christ we are given new life. Continually dying - physically, and to our sinful ways; and continually being renewed - in a way, continually being reborn into the life that God had originally intended for us - this restoration. And in the mix of death and life, all intertwined, I find such peace. It's the peace only Christ could bring.

I've been afflicted by a strange divide in my life for the past week or so. I've either felt numb - completely fine, or the pain has surprised me and taken over. There has been no in-between - no integration. No "dealing." Today, the dam broke and I now carry with me the weight of grief for those who just lost a father, a husband. I carry the grief of death in a natural manner - integrated. But I see the life in it too. Beauty and pain. Life is never simple.

Christ is found in the complexity. God's peace is there, waiting for me like a soothing balm to my wounded soul.

Thank you, God.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today at work...

I accidentally dumped what was left of a green iced tea down my shirt. Let me clarify, not on my shirt, but down my shirt. Like...I somehow managed to miss splashing it all over myself and basically just sent it down my collar (although I got it on my clothes too). It didn't hurt (it was cold) but it was certainly surprising..and wet...oh so very wet. This was no ordinary iced green tea either... it was sweetened. So, as it dried, I remained lightly sticky. I spent the rest of my shift looking forward to taking a wonderful, cleansing shower once I got home.

Hours later...

just as I was about to get off of work, a woman came into the store. "Do any of the employees here drive a _____?" she asked. "I do," I answered her, thinking that although she didn't look like the type I'd figure would want to buy it, she might be in the market for a work vehicle. (It's not such a crazy thought - people have offered to buy it before.) "Oh," she responded, looking concerned, "I hit it."

The lady was actually really nice. And after talking to her for a little bit, I was able to piece together that she's going through a really tough time in her life right now. I felt/feel bad for her - here she is with her life basically in turmoil already, and she has the misfortune to hit my car. I say "misfortune" because it was an accident and I'm in the clear. I'm trying to figure out how to love on her. And yet, when I got home today...I had a very deep-seeded urge to just cry.

I got off of work at 4pm today.
I got home from work at 6pm after figuring out what to do when one's vehicle has been collided into (and all the learning processes associated with that), dealing with the exchange of information, and then (literally) sitting in 5 o'clock traffic.

I'm not going to say that today was the worst work day in the history of my life, but it certainly wasn't my favorite, either.

...however, I can't escape the notion that if this happened (green tea aside) for the purpose of being able to love on another person in a way that Christ would do, then maybe it's totally worth it. What an amazing opportunity...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

(I don't remember where this was going, but I found it in my "drafts" so I thought I'd publish it. Reason: What I have written has merit.)

I could probably sleep right now, but I just don't feel like it.

What's that about?

I feel like it's a sort of metaphor for my life. I have this amazing ability to push myself past my energy limit. I can (theoretically) be exhausted and ready for bed at 9pm, and yet stay up 'til 2am.