Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ending chapters...

I sometimes wish I could pull an Emma Dinsmore on my life. She would always read the last chapter of a book first so that she could decide whether or not to read the whole thing: "If I like the ending, I know I'll like getting there, whereas if I don't like the ending, I know not to waste my time."

But even as I sit here, pondering the quote I just pulled from memory (what is it with me and random movie quotes??), I wish to retract that wish. Just because I don't like how a story ends doesn't mean the journey to that end was without value, merit, adventure, and love. Of course I would like every story to end with the destruction of the Ring, the ultimate defeat of the enemy, the coronation of the rightful king, and the joining of the two long-separated lovers, but that isn't life. Well, it is life in the BROADEST sense because Jesus is going to ultimately conquer death when he returns and is crowned and we are joined with Him for eternity. Pause for a moment and let's just GLORY in that! THAT is the dominant story line of life, and because of that, I can have lots of hope when, in times like right now, the subplots aren't tying up with happy bows.

I'm in a season of ending subplots, the most permanent of which is my grandmother's passing. And I'm walking through the cognitive and emotional paradox of the situation: though it is right and good for my Gramma to be with Jesus now, it still hurts. Though I am glad she isn't in anymore physical pain and that she'll get a new body someday, I still ache. I guess it just takes time for one's heart to catch up with one's head.

The dissonance of that paradox is also echoing in the professional and personal chapters that are also closing during this time. After five years with the Boomerang Project, I won't be coaching this spring. The work itself I won't particularly miss, but the people.... oh, my soul loves them, longs to see them, aches already knowing I will miss them. I know God has His protective and providing hand on my life, but saying good-bye still hurts. He has promised good things to those who love and obey him, but, still, I'm experiencing some ouchies.

And, you know what, it's okay. Even though I am currently experiencing the pain of the less-than-happy elements in the "ends" of these subplots, I would still have chosen to read them. The pain of the ending has not diminished the value, merit, adventure, or love I have experienced in them. And I take encouragement and hope from the fact that Jesus and I are moving forward together and that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

My life.... definitely worth the read.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Loss

I'm not usually one to ascribe to Murphy's Law. I'm not usually a glass-half-empty gal. I'm not usually overshadowed by gray gloomy clouds. But today wasn't a usual day. It seems that all of the pain and loss of the last month have made alliances with one another, and they are now descending upon me en masse. I was cognitively aware of all the various losses yesterday, but today the emotions kicked in.

I hate that my grandma is dead and my grandpa is alone. I hate that one of my most favorite students got in a car accident and is now in a coma in Seattle. I hate that I probably won't be coaching for Link Crew this year, which basically means goodbye to that whole group of people that has been so pivotal in my life. I hate that the loss of the CRP still hurts so badly. I hate that I won't get to spend as much time with my friends in Calgary as I would like.

And so this afternoon I'm faced with what to do with all of this. I feel like a burden to others when I'm like this... mascara running, nose running, thoughts running. Oi. I usually am quite good at reframing days like today and lifting my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help. But I'm wondering if it might not be a bit more helpful to just let myself feel this for a bit.

...okay, get this..... Just as I typed that 30 minutes ago, Rissa came downstairs to change the laundry. I love the random provision of God that brought the friend, the compassion, and the hug I so desperately need right now.

And I love her wisdom: with grief coming at me from so many angles, distraction techniques aren't all bad. There's only so long one can look these things full in the face. So I'm gonna wash my face and head to the Y for step aerobics, hopefully have a long chat with a dear friend tonight, go on a road trip with Susie to see Colby tomorrow.

And, in a truly poetic life element, "Details in the Fabric" by Jason Mraz was playing while all this was being typed...

Calm down
Deep breaths
And get yourself dressed instead
Of running around
And pulling all your threads saying
Breaking yourself up

If it's a broken part, replace it
But, if it's a broken arm then brace it
If it's a broken heart then face it

And hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
And everything will be fine
Everything will be fine

Hang on
Help is on the way
Stay strong
I'm doing everything

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cake Inspired Thoughts

One of the things I love about teaching at Davis is the brilliance of my coworkers, particularly the ones in the English Department. We've got actors (ones who've been in real movies, not just the movies on public access cable), published authors, and classical composers. One of these gems teaches two doors down from me, and I love the randomness of our interactions. Sometimes we just holler at each other... "COOPER!!" "TRAUB!" Sometimes he brings in culinary delights... pumpkin scones, cupcakes, and this year's favorite: apple-pear cheesecake, made from scratch. Oh baby. And sometimes, he brings by copies of his newly written poetry. He wrote one a month ago that I found yesterday as I was organizing my desk.

I'm a baker by hobby.
I have this kick-ass cake recipe
That is made up of the usual dry ingredients
And then nothing but whipped cream.
The tricky part is folding the dry ingredients into the whipped cream
Gently enough, slowly enough, knowing when
Enough is enough.
White on white. Dry on wet.
Oddly, it works
Like mixing cement for a post-hole:
Without much effort, the ingredients blend
And hold.

I trust that my spirit is like that--
All the unresolveds, the irreconcilables
Sit on the surface and then, later
After you've not thought about them awhile
They are still unresolved, but mixed in
A part of you
And it's okay -- not it's not okay,
It has become fertile ground for wisdom.

The poem continues, but that part just stops me every time. I love the prosaic first stanza, the pluralization of the adjective unresolved, the fact that it starts with cake. But most of all, I love the hope it offers, the hope that the things that sit on my life-- that are in it but don't quite fit in it-- that those things will get worked in somehow. While I am an advocate of self-awareness, there are some things that I simply can't perceive right away; it takes some time to see the lines, to learn the lessons.

The last season of my life has been challenging, with ministry stuff and relationship stuff and health stuff. And while I always want to be open to receive fresh insight about old things, I also feel like God has given some wisdom in the last few weeks: clearer directions about vocation and calling, clearer perceptions of what resonates within my own heart, clearer invitations towards Him and away from the things that I would use to replace Him.

Some of the unresolveds are mixing in, and the blend of circumstance and Providence is looking less like a confusing smattering of ingredients and more like a sweet something that can be tasted and seen as evidence that the Lord is good. It might not be all frosted and decorated just yet, but it's ridiculously good nonetheless.

Let's hear it for cake.