Ordinariness eventually becomes an inner demand. We stumble after it--not knowing how to be ordinary--only how great is our need for the healing it brings.
~ Anne Hillman, Awakening the Energies of Love
As we continue to cope. . .
This normalcy, this ordinariness, tempers my rage and opens my heart.
Life is faithful in its unfolding.
Right after I wrote that last blog post, I attended our final Biddies gathering of the summer. Looking into the faces of those women gave me hope! Their innate goodness (all the more good because they don't realize it), the many ways they are present to each other, and their joy at being together was immediate and palpable. Later that same day, I boarded a plane for Oregon to spend time with Gayle and Karen, two best friends of forty-one years, to drive into the mountains with my son, Drew, and to attend a most perfect wedding celebration. All of it was exactly what I needed.
I read. (In the past month I've read Anne Hillman's Awakening the Energies of Love, Thomas Berry's Dream of the Earth, Terry Tempest Williams's When Women Were Birds. TWICE.) Reading has a way of nurturing and forming me. I can feel it, physically, feeding me. It's a source of life.
I stand, coffee in hand, and watch my hummingbirds as they guzzle, dive, perch, and take off chasing. Tiny winged territorial beings. I know they have to leave soon, following their own innate rhythm in the great stream of living things, of life.
I notice the owl that hoots just north of the house as soon as it grows dark out, the way the air smells in the mornings, the light in the pine bows when the sun begins to go down, (Edward Abbey says that owls don't so much hunt as they call out to their prey. The hoot is unnerving to rodents, rabbits especially, who of course may think the owl can spot them. They run from cover to find something better. That's when the owl actually sees and can track them.)
I walk, and notice the same tree that jumps the gun on color every year at this time. The same lanky blonde boy passes me on his bicycle every day. He has the roundest, bluest eyes. His hair is the color of wheat. Today he was stopped, one foot planted on the pavement, with his phone next to his ear. His smile lit up the planet. His mother must be crazy about, him, I think, as I pass him on the bike path. How can she stand to let him leave the house?
I reflect on Thomas Berry's writing. If the planet is an airliner, how do we (ecologically) avoid a crash landing? His book was published thirty years ago, in 1988. I keep reminding myself of this as I try to absorb what he's saying. Thirty years hence, is it unavoidable or are we trying to mitigate the damage that will be caused by that inevitable crash landing? I have all the hope in the world for it. I can base that on not one thing factual. He ends this book with the idea of hopefulness. Hopefulness that the earth will show us how; will teach us what we need to do in order to evolve; to show us how to take the necessary risks as humans.
I think about this, also the many agreements that we make with ourselves, something I like to call the non-negotiables; those many agreements to which we hold ourselves. They come to life in the ordinariness of the everyday. They emerge when we most need them, as a frame of reference for all that we experience. They keep us from despair. On the days when we're convinced we can't do any of it, the days we want to give up because the strain is too great, the non-negotiables call to us in the form of the promises we've made to ourselves.
The Girl in the Denver Airport, Terminal B
I approached her and asked where she was headed. "Gate 80."
"I'm at Gate 90, so we can go together if you like."
She took my arm.
She'd left her good cane at home, along with her service dog because of his size. She was going to Colorado Springs for the Olympics. She lives in downtown Des Moines.
Then something interesting happened. I felt we were suddenly off track, and the signs weren't helping. More than once I had to stop so we could reorient ourselves. When I couldn't tell which way to go, she filled in the blanks with information she'd received form someone else. We were forty gates away, and I was dependent upon my "blind" walking partner to get us where we needed to go. With our combined ways of seeing, we arrived at our gates.
I'm thinking that in our church, in our culture, in our world, which have all become so hopelessly polarized, it will require a lot of different ways of seeing before we will move forward together, what Greg Boyle calls "toward a stance of kinship." Otherwise, I'm thinking that young woman may have found her gate while I might still be stopped, stumped, searching.
The Boys on the Urbandale Bike Path
On the second loop near the lake I heard him say, "Dude! You know my living room? And that lamp? And the little couch?"
He was doing what we all do in order to be understood. He set up his listener by creating a context, a frame of reference, for understanding. Evidently, the other boy didn't get it the first time around. Without context, he couldn't.
The problem with hearing each other, with coming together and creating solutions, is that we don't hear, accept, or receive each others' contexts. You know the living room? (That ain't no living room Dude!) And that lamp? (Lamps are wrong. Lamps are bad. Your whole problem is you've got a lamp, of all things.) And the little couch? I still want to know what comes after the little couch, don't you?
And from the Vatican, Silence
I am willing to wait for what Pope Francis has to say. This one, whose theology runs parallel to mine (I'm certain it's the other way around, aren't you?), has a voice that I am able to hear. I have felt from the beginning that he lives from a stance of service, of reason, of compassion, of humility.
In the meantime, some of what we continue to hear locally is that it's better since 2002, and, that, by and large, over time, it hasn't occurred with that many priests. This still falls on my ears as disclaimer, as minimizing, as deflecting. But it's what we have to work with.
The other wing of the message is a call to penance, fasting, and prayer. Prayers Gonna Pray. . .I'm a praying person. A gift in this experience is that it deepens my prayer. Penance and fasting, however, at this particular time, make no sense to me whatsoever. Carry on.
Letting Go and/or Asking
OH, WAIT. . .What if I simply asked?
Bible study begins tomorrow (starting at The Beginning, Genesis 1) and on Monday some of us will start an Ignatian process together (The New Spiritual Exercises). Both of these meet over the next eight months.
Last week at this time, I was agonizing not so much at the prep time these will both take and my need for balance, but when was I going to find time to write?
I grappled with this over a couple of days, trying to get myself to "let go" and trust that it will work out.
It wasn't working.
Then I stumbled onto the idea to ask my boss if I could come in to work later on Tuesdays and Thursdays. What a concept. He pretty much immediately agreed to it.