Thursday, December 31, 2009

The moon is full and so am I

It's New Year's Eve...which typically means I should be reflective and thinking of all I want to do in the coming year. As I drove home tonight the moon rose in all its full splendor. I have a thing about the moon. I love to look at it. I still find it fascinating, and I wonder if something is living there and looking at earth and wondering about what goes on here too.

It's a great metaphor for the ending of the year for me. It's been a tough year. A divorce, building a law practice, gaining weight that I worked so hard to lose a few years ago, some challenges. But in the end, my life feels full. I feel full. Despite the painful moments (and there's been a lot of those), I have some peace about my life. About what's next for me, for my children.

I've felt anxious the past few days, and I think I know why. Tomorrow would be the 12th anniversary of my first date with my ex-husband. We got engaged on this night 9 years ago. In addition, 10 years ago tonight we were together in Detroit and for the first time I felt a strong sense of separation from Walter. Part of me knew on New Year's Eve 1999 very distinctly, this was not the person I was meant to be with, but I wasn't strong enough then to halt the trajectory. I couldn't give up the relationship then, the illusion of togetherness we had. It has taken me a decade to gather up the strength. It's funny, because in some ways it seems like everything happened overnight, and in other ways I can see the seeds of this year in a year that began 10 years ago.

I begin this year a divorced mother of two. An attorney. A guardian. One of the faithful. A follower of the man born over 2,000 years ago. Last night I was reading part of a book about grace. It's not a topic that's easy for me. In my life, it has always seemed that I must be earning things....earning love, affection, degrees, promotions, job titles...what have you. The concept that God would simply love me just because has always unsettled me. And of course the sort of response does that evoke...that unsettles me too. If I'm being honest I know that my heart has been called in another direction. And despite the unsettledness, I need to find out where that road leads and where I go next from here to follow that path.

Despite the not-knowingness of my life right now, there are things I know for sure. I know that I am a good mom to my two babies, and they are thriving and healthy and happy. I know that I do my best to protect the interests of the children that I am guardian to and for. I know that I am growing stronger and more capable of love everyday. Life is full.

Friday, December 25, 2009

What happened?

Tonight I attended church with my kiddos. It was a nice service, Christmas Eve after all, so familiar hymns, familiar readings. My kids were fairly tame, so I got to hear a decent part of the sermon. It was a message that I suppose I needed, but still somewhat painful.

I put it out of my mind, came home and got busy with our Christmas Eve "stuff." Baking cookies with the kids, watching Christmas movies, and then after the kids fell asleep in my bed, dragging all the presents out of hiding and filling the stockings. I snapped the train tracks together and got the batteries put in. Everything is ready for the morningtime. The kids will be happy and excited. Both of them really wanted one thing, and lucky for them, Santa pulled through. Their dad is coming over first thing in the morning so he can see them open up their gifts and bring his to add to the pile. I'm glad that we are at least far enough through the divorce process that we can do this together with our kids.

The sermon, and a movie I've watched several times this year, reminded me again that I must revisit the path I have chosen and perhaps make room in my heart and mind for a different path. When I approached the end of the my college years, I contemplated going to seminary. I felt some sort of tug in that direction. I'm not sure where I got derailed. But somehow I ended up in law school instead. Now here I am, more than 10 years later, with two children, a job I enjoy most days and a freshly failed marriage, and I'm left wondering what influences made me run all those years ago. Perhaps it was fear of losing my family entirely. I'm fairly sure they would not have been able to support my attendance at a seminary, particularly if I was considering ordination. I think perhaps some of it was the fear of the unknown. Some of it was fear of choosing a path that seemed crazy for a woman (to me at the time...particularly after 4 years at a conservative university). I think at least some of it had to do with the idea that I would be giving up my shot at a husband, kids, a stable life. Or maybe fear of not being good enough or smart enough or *enough* enough. I'm not sure. Somehow understanding why has become important to me now. It seems the place to start in figuring out where I go next.

Part of me still feels that tug. Even now, all these years later, I feel drawn to God, to the study of theology and to the church, for all its dysfunction. We all have our dysfunction I suppose. I'm not sure where that leaves me, or what it means for me next. And perhaps I'm ok with not having those answers today...or tomorrow...or this year or next. At least I'm asking the questions again.

The hope and promise of the Christ child has descended upon my life in a new and fresh way. Merry Christmas indeed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


My heart was light today as I did some Christmas shopping. I found some things that were wonderful, and I bought my usual cards.

Each year I write a few letters at Christmastime. It started as something I enjoyed doing to express love and gratitude to friends. Over time, it has become something I like and feel is important. I don't write one to every person I think of as a friend or every person I'm grateful for. But, I sit down to write and the first 5 or so people who pop into my head get a card. As I was writing one of the cards today I started laughing. The card was to a guy who I've known for a few years, but got to know better this year. He and I have had sort of a love/hate relationship this year. On one hand we've had some fairly heated arguments, and on the other hand he is funny and caring. So my card to him was kind of funny... it was like... "I really like you, but on the other hand you are weird, a little odd, crass at times..." I started giggling as I was writing it. Then I thought to myself, what if God was writing a letter to me...trying to express that he loves me and loves being in my life and in relationship with me...but also being honest enough with me to acknowledge my faults.

I think it would go something like this,

Dear Michele -

I love you a lot. I am happy that you are in my life, and happy that you have sought me out so diligently this year. I hope you know how much joy that brought me. I am seeking you too, and hope you feel my presence as a real part of your life.

Sometimes you do stupid things - you are mean-spirited, impatient and judgmental at moments. At times I wonder how you got so impatient and whether you realize your lack of patience sometimes costs you things you want and desire. Sometimes you are really funny, and make me laugh. Other times I think you use humor to hide who you are and it becomes an expression of self-loathing. I know your heart is in the right place though, and so I look through these things and love you for who you are and in fact because of who you are.

I know this year has been a tough one. You left the primary relationship you have had for over a decade. I know your heart aches at times from the loss of that relationship. And I know that have had a lot of fear of what that decision means for you and your babies. Please have peace in your heart that you have only done what you knew to do. And by leaving, you are returning to who you are and who I always hoped you could become.

I have sent you communities and friends this year to love and nurture you. And you were able to open your heart to the people I sent you. You have become more honest this year, and less judgmental. Sometimes it takes hurt and pain to learn lessons. While I didn't mean for you to hurt, I know you know it is part of the life you live. And you handled it with the grace and love that I meant for you all along.

Keep on walking the path that is set before you. Keep loving, even when it seems that it yields no fruit. And keep searching for who you are, who you were meant to be and who we can be together.


Saturday, December 5, 2009


"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let everyone who hears say, "Come." And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift." (The Revelation of John 22:17)

This was one of the lessons that we read this past weekend in the community I've been spending time in each month. It reminds me of a lot of disconnected things. My first thought was "Come as you are." That first and foremost, we are acceptable to God without prettying ourselves up or somehow making ourselves more presentable (borrowing a word my mother used on me as a kid). The second thing I thought of was the phrase, "Let everyone who is thirsty" - who isn't thirsting for something? Whether for love, relationship, transformation, intimacy...we all are thirsting for something deeper, something real. It's what leads most of us to God, to the Church, and perhaps to community. Certainly my life has been an exercise in thirst these days.

I thirst for normalcy. I thirst for calmness, for peace. For some sort of tranquility in the midst of a tumultuous time. There are times at church, when it is quiet, that I find myself tearing up. I crave that quiet, that silence. And so often I'm unable to get there on my own, because my own life seems so...well...noisy...these days anyway.

Even more so, I find myself thirsting for the love of God in a way that I am unaccustomed to. My opinion or image of God is changing. Rather than a distant force who put his own son to death to fix my sins, more and more I see God as not only wanting relationship with me, but in some ways *thirsting* for it himself (or herself). And my response..."let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift." I wish. I want the relationship... and so I take the water of life from my God.

This brings me to my third thought, (or fourth or fifth)...I'm not very used to "taking" anything. I'm more of a giver. I'm not used to receiving, to accepting help, to taking something from another. It's a challenge. But it is only in the receiving that I am made whole. I cannot do it on my own. And all the giving in the world won't get me there either. I must be able to receive, and the word "take" is even stronger. It is a word of claiming. Claiming one's God-given gift(s), redemption, love. Not sheepishly holding one's hand out, embarrassed of being needy. To take is to recognize one's entitlement. And to speak it. To know it, intimately.

I'm not where I want to be in so many ways...but I feel strongly...a knowing of sorts...that I am thirsty. And that I don't have to remain that way. There is a gift. Given freely. And perhaps now that I have heard, the next step is to tell another to "Come." There is enough for us all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Owner's Manual

There's just no manual for divorce. Nothing to tell you how to do this and how to handle that. No book or magazine article that tells you what to say and how to be. No pamphlet that explains how to feel and what to think.

I've finally come clean to most people who know me very well. I've admitted that I'm getting (or now have gotten) divorced from the person I've shared the last 12 years with. People have had mixed reactions. I've been touched by the support of some. And hurt by the judgment of others. But overall that part is over and done with, and I'm glad. Maybe people will stop talking about it, and stop questioning me about it. It's complicated. There is a part of me that yearns for some privacy through all this. I don't want to discuss the demise of the primary relationship in my life with every Tom, Dick and Harry. I don't want to be the subject of gossip. But mostly, I just want to feel normal again in my relationships to the people around me. Whatever that means.

The parts that are still confusing really relate to my kids. I finally pushed my ex-husband out of the house. (It's funny that even I use his pejorative terminology, actually I asked nicely for months, and finally insisted on Sunday). Sort of. I told him he needed to be out by today. However, that hasn't happened. He moved some of his things out. He left behind most of the furniture, two cars and a garage full of junk. I think it's a control issue, and it's frustrating as hell.

He also left behind our two kids. Today he indicated that he will come by and see them tomorrow and daily from now on. I don't believe this. He hasn't seen them in nearly a week. He hasn't spent more than an hour with them in months. And because of his normal absence in their lives, they really haven't asked about him much. I think he assumes he will continue to make himself at my home here to visit with the kids. That he should be allowed to visit with the kids in my home. Since there's no manual, I've had to admit I'm not comfortable with him in the house at this point. He still has keys and remotes, and doesn't seem to have any desire to give up his right to stay, live and be here. It makes me uneasy. And I don't get it. Why would he want to be in the house at this point? Other than attempt to make me feel uneasy, is there any point to it at all? Then I wonder...should I allow it if only for my kids? Perhaps this is the only way they will spend time with their dad. Do I prohibit it? I don't know. I wish there was a manual. All through this process, I've been most concerned with how my kids would react to all this. By and large their lives have remained unchanged. Today we went to church and had a normal Sunday at home. We went to the store to buy their Christmas ornament (a tradition I started when Melena was 2 and I was pregnant with Rudy) and got all the Christmas stuff out and around the house. We ate fish sticks together for supper around our table. Life goes on. Part of me feels a lot of sympathy for Walter. The fact that he misses these moments...that he misses his quizzical little boy saying, "Is that polite mommy?" Or his daughter losing another tooth (her third this year)...biting into an apple hoping to knock it loose. He has missed so much with them...and continues to miss so much. I wish he got it. That life is so fast - and that soon these babies will have their own babies. Part of me is angry as hell with him for being so stupid, so self-absorbed.

Perhaps at the end of this experience I will write an guide to surviving divorce with your head and heart intact. Of course I haven't survived it yet. And some days I'm not at all sure I'm intact.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't waste a single moment

Today I found out a friend died. I have only known her for the past year. She was a priest, and a friend in the sense that I knew her to some degree, and she knew me to some degree. We weren't close in the sense that there was a lot I didn't know about her, and a lot she didn't know about me. Still, I counted her a friend, and someone who I thought highly of. She was intelligent, warm and passionate about the church. She was an encourager, hopeful, a decent person. She died suddenly, and I'm left thankful for her life, and even more thankful I didn't waste moments and skip the thoughts I had of her the last time I saw her.

I last saw her in a group we are part of on Wednesday nights. She had started teaching the other group that meets on that night, as opposed to the one I participate in. But the last time I saw her (last Wednesday) I told her how much I had enjoyed her sermon on the Sunday my daughter was baptized, and how my friend (my daughter's godmother) really thought a lot of her words. She accepted my comments graciously and smiled at the compliment. We chatted for a few minutes. I'm so glad now that I took that opportunity to tell her that I valued her and her contributions to the church I go to. I'm thankful that I told her I appreciated her one last time.

I'm thankful for her life. I'm thankful that I was able to meet her and know her, even if it wasn't as deeply as I now wish I had. I'm thankful that I was able to share the words that came to mind when I saw her instead of holding them back like I so often do. Oftentimes I find myself unable to say the things I think. Perhaps it's the fear of looking foolish or even a little vulnerable, I don't know. Regardless, I will be thinking of Irene this Thanksgiving Day and I will remember her comment to me once about her prayer life...she had told me that she always starts her prayers with praise and thanksgiving for the blessings in her life - and she meant it. When she talked about God she had this certain smile, this almost glow about her. I never doubted her faith. She had a certainty to the way she spoke about God. She once asked me where I was in the formal process of discernment. I laughed and told her I wasn't in a formal process, but that I would figure it out eventually. She laughed and told me there was no rush, God will work it out. She was right. May she rest now with the One she was so very thankful for.

Friday, November 20, 2009

D day

The day has come that I have dreaded since May. Today I have to sit down with my babies and tell them about the divorce. I have put this off, primarily because I didn't want to tell them prematurely only to upset them when we were all still living in the same house. But, a few weeks ago I finally gathered my courage and told Walter he would have to be out by the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That's only 9 days away. And I'm taking the kids out of town while he moves out, so in less than a week we will be in Indiana. I've thought of different ways to approach this, but quite honestly there is no easy way.

My daughter is my primary concern. My son is only 3. And his bond with his dad has always been tenuous at best. My daughter though recalls a loving daddy who tickled her, fried her chicken and took her to Chinese buffets when she was littler. Since our son's birth, Walter has distanced himself from the kids more and more. But our daughter is hard to resist. She is an affectionate, effusive, sweet child. She is also emotional. I know that she will cry. And quite honestly when she cries, I have a hard time not joining in. I know that I am causing her pain, and that's the worst feeling I've ever had. I've been upset all week knowing this day was coming, and feeling like I have failed her. There is no quick, painless way through this.

While I can defend my decision to myself and to my friends and family, my daughter is another story. How do I defend splitting our family into two pieces to a child? How can I explain that Christmas morning won't be the same? The whole mess is so complicated that I don't always get it, I certainly don't expect her to get it.

Everyone, well-meaning as they are, tell me she will be fine. And I hope she will, but of course I know that part of her innocence will be gone. I don't know how people have gotten through this intact. It just seems so hard. Staying was hard. Leaving is hard. Some days I wonder if this is the right path for me. I wish I knew for sure. I've been reading some Buddhist writings recently. They talk about living within the moment. And about not running, not holding back. Not grasping onto things out of fear. Hard to explain. Harder to practice. Perhaps in my struggle to hold on to my sanity, I hold back that which is the most precious.

A few weeks ago I felt paralyzed. I was so depressed I couldn't see light. After 5 days it passed. But I worry about falling into it again. It seemed so deep, so all-encompassing. Despite my struggles, I couldn't get out. Finally I just let go. I let myself sink down into it. And after a few days, it lifted.

This post is random, and seemingly disconnected thoughts. Perhaps that is representative of where I find myself at this moment. Without apology, without excuse. And still I was able to get up today. To work, to love, to smile.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thin Skin

There are a lot of things I could be accused of. Emotional at times. Stubborn. Passive aggressive. Some of these are positive and some are negative depending upon the situation and what I'm reacting to.

Something I would not say that I am is thin-skinned. In fact, I think for the most part I take criticism fairly well, and don't let the little insults get to me. This week might've proved me wrong.

I'm friends with a lawyer named George. He's a nice enough guy I suppose. I haven't known him that long. We both have contracts with the county we practice in to provide guardian services for juvenile court. He was there first. I think I "knew of" him prior my starting in juvenile court 18 months ago, but I didn't really know him. In the past year, because of some mutual friends, I now would say that I know him to some degree. We are not best friends, nor do we share large parts of our lives. But, overall, I would call him a friend.

George has crossed lines with me in the past. He's made comments that have been inappropriate. Most of these comments have related to race, and have been borderline in my opinion. I think my gauge of appropriateness is pretty liberal. In fact, I enjoy the slightly rude, funny comment as much as the next person, so I don't think I would construe something as off the radar unless it was...really off the radar.

This past week George got angry with me about something fairly trivial. I think he would likely even agree it was trivial. His reaction caught me off guard. He called me a profane name and then told me to ... well I suppose you can guess. These messages were delivered via text message. I was taken aback, and quite honestly, I was offended. For someone to get so angry over something so...inconsequential...well it surprised me.

Then to make matters worse I was approached my another member of the team of people we work with in juvenile court and was informed that George had told her some personal things about my life, my now ex-husband and my children. Not only had he made these comments to her, but he had chosen to say these things in front of several others on the team. By the time I found this out, I was incensed. What was he thinking? How do I react? In the past I probably would've chosen to either ignore the incidents all together or to ignore the fact that I was hurt by his behavior.

Then today I realized again that perhaps I am beginning to take things too seriously or read too much into people's behavior. My daughter was baptized today at the church I've been attending since last winter. She chose this, and was excited about it. I invited one of the people who sometimes attends the church. He was there, but acted slightly odd. Not at all warm or the person that I typically think he is. I felt sort of confused by it, and a little taken aback.

Sometimes I think I am developing thinner skin. Or maybe it's just that I am learning to feel what I feel and not apologize for it necessarily. I doubt that I will raise the issue with the person from my church. George, well I haven't figured out what to do with him. I'm sure I will figure it out. All these feelings and nowhere to go with them I suppose. Or my skin has gotten too thin. Whichever.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeling a little down...

I've had a tough week. I'm feeling a bit run down and a bit emotionally worn out. There, I said it. I struggle with being honest with people when I feel down or sad or mad. I tend to smile, crack a joke and say "I'm fine." This is a lifelong pattern for me. I've always been good at making people laugh and smile. It's hard for me to break out of my "role."

Certainly there's a place for that. But, it makes being straight with people harder. People tend to expect the "funny" girl. I think sometimes that's why it has been so hard for people to come to terms with my divorce. I'm not joking about it. I joke about my weight, my odd biological family, my job, my kids. I haven't thought my own relationship failure has been real funny. So, I have been by and large quiet about it. I don't say anything at all, much less do I mention that I feel sad, broken, hurt, whatever.

Tonight I went solo to see the Michael Jackson movie of his last footage - This is It. It was wild. He was so alive on the screen. At moments, he was his 20's self - dancing, singing, entertaining. It was surreal. I miss Michael. I know it sounds odd for a 30something white woman raised in very white America who is a lawyer...but I do. There was something about him. He was an amazing artist, of course. But more than that, he seemed to be such a broken man. Beautiful in some ways, but broken. While I can't relate to his struggle directly, I always felt an affinity for the man. I never believed he was a pedophile or crazy or deranged. I just thought of him as wounded. He just wore it more openly than most of us do. I will miss what he could have still created. I look forward to seeing him again someday. I'm sad that he had to leave so soon.

I've come to realize that part of this journey is becoming a more honest, open person. I'm not sure where to begin. Perhaps that's what this post is. A beginning.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pearls before Swine (Flu)

So, it's been a week. I returned from Mexico a little more than a week ago. When I left town I was swamped at work and my kids were running amok. When I returned, it was worse than when I left. Everything demanded my attention, and I felt scattered and disorganized. Consequently when Rudy got sick last Friday, I groaned inwardly. I just didn't feel I had the energy to deal with him being ill, holding down the fort at work and at home. By Sunday it was clear, both of my children were sick. And they were whiny, crying, feverish, coughing sick. Mondays are my worst day of the week to have to miss being at work. I have juvenile court, so skipping out isn't a good option. Ever. Since Walter was off in the morning, I bargained with him to keep the kids for a few hours so I could try and get what was most pressing done. When I got home both kids' fevers had spiked and they were even more needy. We made our trek to the doctor, and we were told that both were likely infected with the dreaded swine flu. Our beloved pediatrician suggested I get the little one chest x-rayed just to be safe. All was well. No pneumonia, just two sick kids.

By Wednesday, I felt overwhelmed. I had tons of things needing attention at my office, and yet two children who needed me at home more. Luckily by today, the fevers were mostly over and the coughs subsiding. I learned a lesson these past few weeks. I'm on my own as a parent with these two babies. I have loving people in my life who will help me when I call, and try and assist me the best they know how. I'm thankful for my communities. They are invaluable, and they offer my children love and support. But, as for their father, well, he has his limits. I likely should have known this before, but it's crystal clear now. From the way he didn't care for the kids while I was gone to the way that he cannot seem to place their needs before his own, it is clear. This is a painful realization for me. I know that someday my kids will ask me, "why doesn't daddy take care of us?" And I don't have a good answer for that one. I know he loves the kids. I have no doubt of that. But he is not going to be able to put them first, whether it's taking their temperature or making sure they are cared for and loved, it's just not a priority.

All this talk of swine flu reminded me of the Sermon on the Mount - and the saying "pearls before swine." If I understand correctly, it's the concept that something valuable should not be given to someone not able to appreciate it's value. When I begin to have pangs of guilt and shame about my divorce, I remember this saying. Because if I'm honest with myself, my ex-husband was never able to value me for who I am. Partly because I'm not certain he ever knew who I was, and partly because I don't think he is able to value me. The same thing applies to our children. I believe he loves them, but I don't think he is able to value them in the way that I hoped he could when we decided to have them. At least part of this journey has been coming to terms with the realization that I deserve a partner that can value me. For me. Not because I earn it or have some intrinsic value, but just because I am. Perhaps this is too great an expectation, I don't know. I've finally been able to accept and receive that this is how God loves me and values me. That acceptance allows me to accept others and myself, even with my flaws.

Many of my colleagues have asked me recently why I haven't insisted that Walter get out of my home. I don't have an easy answer for that. It's not that I want him here. In fact, I keep thinking "when he moves out, I'll..." But, it is hard for me to be angry with him for his ignorance. While I don't like what he has done and continues to do, I feel some sadness for him, and I worry that if I push him out, he will pull back from our kids, leaving them entirely without a father. I understand on some level that I'm not helping things, and that I'm likely going to have to toughen up so we can all move forward. I'm just not doing well at toughening up just yet.

The key I suppose is to learn enough from this to be able to not fall into the same pattern or routine. Pearls before swine. It seems like a very different concept to me now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Broken, but Alive.

I returned this past Monday night from Mexico. What a beautiful country! Words can't describe (I won't even try) what amazing sights and sounds and smells and tastes that I experienced there. It was an incredible five days.

I must admit though, the flight there was rough. I'm terrified of flying. I avoid planes if at all possible. I am completely irrational when it comes to flight. I envision that we are going to explode in mid-air, or crash off the end of the runway or plummet to earth in a burning heap. It is one of the few areas of my life I don't really understand at all.
I don't know what drives my fear. I've heard all the statistics, I understand the likelihoods, I get it. But I don't *get it.*

On this trip, I boarded the plane before 6am to fly to Miami on the way to Mexico. The first leg was bumpy, and a little bit scary. The weather combined with the darkness made it a shaky experience for me. I realized pretty quickly that I felt out of control, and was actually shaking a little. I was trying to read to take my mind off the airplane. I was reading "The Shack." (As is usual, I'm a day late, this book was a huge hit a year ago.) I began to pray (because when I'm panicking, that's my instinct), about 20 minutes into the flight, I fell into a deep sleep. I didn't wake up until a few minutes before we landed in Miami. I'm not sure how to explain that, except that I think God knew what I needed, and that was to rest, to be at peace. And I was.

Once I arrived in Mexico, I was absolutely amazed at everything. The ocean was incredible. All at once powerful, graceful, beautiful. I played in the surf, and soaked in the sun. My heart felt lighter than it has in awhile. I felt alive.

These past several months have left me feeling fragmented at times, broken into different pieces that I haven't entirely figured out how to put back together. But being in Mexico, in the presence of creation of the God of the seas and sand, well it reminded me that despite my brokenness, I'm alive. I'm strong, and I am learning how to live my life, whole again.

I spent a day snorkeling in the Caribbean. I swam with the fish, a shark, a sea turtle and a big barracuda. It was a delight for my senses, and I ultimately left my wedding rings at the bottom of the sea. It was something I felt strongly about doing when I went to Mexico. I don't want to bury the memories of my marriage, or cast them away. I simply want to open my hands and let go of some of the pain, guilt and shame associated with all of this. So, I did. And despite feeling broken, I feel free and alive.

I'm glad I took the trip. I enjoyed the time, and I learned that I can be on my own. I don't have to have another person with me just to have the person there. It was a time to heal. And I was able to remember the Healer wants me whole again.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I'm getting ready to go on a trip. I'm traveling to Mexico. By myself. This will be the first time in many, many years that I am going somewhere by myself. For the last 10 plus years, when i have went somewhere it has been because my job required it...or my husband wanted to go there...or because my family was traveling to a place. I have not went somewhere strictly because I wanted to go. And I have never went alone.

This trip didn't start as a solitary plan. I originally thought I would travel with 3 friends, a married couple and a good girlfriend of mine. In the past several weeks though, they've individually had different reasons for not being able to go. So I was left with the choice of either going on my own or skipping the trip. I was really growing to like the idea of going to a warm place with a clear ocean to play in 10 I go. By myself.

I'm really looking forward to the trip. I expect to nap and read and swim. I've planned one formal thing and that's a day of snorkeling. I love the water and I haven't been snorkeling since I was 10 or 11...I can't wait!

The reactions of my friends and family to my adventure have been surprising to me. Some of them feel sad for me...that I have no one to go with. Some of them have seemingly thought I was fibbing about the trip, that maybe I had a man on the side, and that perhaps I was intending on sneaking away with "him" and didn't want to tell the truth. Others have applauded my independence and believe it's a great opportunity for me. I tend to agree with the third group. I think it *is* a great opportunity for me. I will have time to reflect, meditate, pray and relax without the time clock of everyday life. No little ones to care for and no ex-husband to detract my the time.

The second group - the ones that think there might be some mystery man I'm not disclosing - surprise me. It's like the folks that have asked me if I'm "dating." Holy moly. I just got divorced. I haven't even adjusted to that life change. A new relationship? Not even in the distant horizon in my view. And quite honestly I wouldn't know what to do with a relationship right now. I'm trying to figure out what the heck happened to my last one. And I spent over 1/3 of my life in that one. It's time for me to figure Maybe someday I will feel differently, but I can tell you, I don't imagine it anytime soon. Not that I want to be a eunuch or celibate for life...but for right's exactly what I want to be. I have so much to discover about who I was created to be. I have two little people who rely on me for everything and I have a challenging job that takes a lot of energy. I don't want to fall into the trap of "I don't need a man" but this point I don't think I do!

I'll post more after the trip - I've planned a ritual of sorts for the trip, and life seems good and full.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I've been wordy lately. Even for me. (and that's saying something...) I view a lot of life in terms of metaphors. I often think they speak better than all of my wordiness can. For instance, we've all heard the metaphor of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. That one has been out there for awhile, and yet it perfectly describes my current experience of life.

As a child, I was your typical caterpillar. Exploring my world, but not able to wander too far because after all, for all the legs a caterpillar has, they are short legs and not capable of running too far, too fast. As a young adult, I committed myself to the cocoon. I was probably 18 or 19. And I was learning about who I was, and how I fit into the world. I was exploring my religious, political and philsophical beliefs about the world, God and me. Those college years were tumultuous, but ultimately they provided a space for me to crawl into the cocoon to prepare to fly.

Once I was in that place, I had a hard time leaving it. While it was dimly lit and cramped at times, it was familiar and not too scary. So I stayed. Long past the time I needed to be ready to fly. But I was fearful. Out of fear, I made a lot of decisions. I married for somes sense of security in life. I lost who I was by becoming who I thought I was supposed to be. I worked in a dysfunctional and chaotic environment for many years simply because my that's what i was "supposed" to do. I couldn't get out of the cocoon, but if you asked me, I'm sure I would've said I was free, free to do what I wanted and how I wanted. In reality, I felt trapped, misunderstood and confused.

As life goes, things don't remain the same for too, too long. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, I spied a glimmer of light. As if the cocoon had cracked just enough to allow a sliver of light through the darkness. In the beginning the light was so overwhelming and bright, that I hid my face. I didn't know what I was seeing, and I was frightened. Eventually though, that big, bright world beckoned. And I couldn't resist. I wanted to see what was out there.

So, I entered into a journey of becoming. It hurt at first. I felt exposed, vulnerable and very alone. But with every step in the journey, the One who is Love, provided me with bits and pieces of who I was to become. Communities of faith, people who cared about where I was headed, and the knowledge that somehow, some way I would figure this all out. The journey was not to a place but to the center of who I am, who I was made to be.

I've finally allowed the cocoon to fall away. The work begun in me so many years ago is now beginning to make manifest in a new and wonderfilled way. There are moments when I see the old shell of the cocoon hanging from the tree, and I crave it's sameness, its security. But then I look again and see the brilliant colors of these wings, and I know that I was not meant to stay in that drab, gray place forever. Finally, it's time to fly.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stony, God and Me

I've had a dog named Stony as my close friend for over 11 years. I adopted Stony from the Humane Society while I was in law school. I was lonely, and hated my life in that town. I hated law school, and the competitiveness of it all. Stony was my faithful companion.

Stony is a mutt. He is some beagle, some sort of shepherd mix...some of more stuff. He's tan and white, a mid-sized kind of dog. Too big to be a lapdog, but small enough to occupy a small spot on the bed. He loves car rides where he can hang his head out the window. He's a runner. If he gets out, he runs. He typically always comes back. Unless someone picks him up, but mostly he's even too smart for that. Believe it or not, he looks both ways before crossing the street. He's a smart dog. He likes to chase rodents and birds, though he's never hurt one that i know of. He can swim quite well if there are ducks to chase in a pond. And he's perceptive. When I had a broken foot, he was constantly by my side, and only asked to go out if I was already up and around. He has soulful brown eyes that seem to penetrate my soul. I love this dog. He has outlasted many relationships in my life, several physical moves and even my marriage.

I recently started walking with Stony at night after dark around the neighborhood I live in now. He loves to go for a good walk. He pees on a bunch of stuff, and sniffs for the trail of some rabbit or squirrel. And he otherwise is a fun walker. He doesn't make me run and strain against the leash, but he keeps a brisk pace only stopping every now and again for a deeper sniff.

Stony and I have been walking, and I've been talking to God a lot. I've felt pretty overwhelmed this past week. My life seems a bit out of control. I'm divorced, but remaining in the same home with my ex at this point, with no end in sight. I want desperately to move on, and can't seem to get out of my rut. I tried to talk to him last night...and well it didn't go well. More than any other emotion, I feel angry right now. I just wrote out a private list of what all I'm mad about it. It spanned 3 pages. I don't express anger well. I've always learned to squash that kind of thing. Nice girls don't get mad. Or something like that.

But, me, Stony and God, well we had a good walk and talk last night. I told God I was sorry, but that I was pretty ticked off right now. I think if He/She was trying to make me feel better, he told Stony to be extra caring with me. And it worked. Stony knew just how to be.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Holding Something Back

This morning, at church, I had a moment. These happen every now and again. Sort of a recognition that something/someone is speaking, and that it is time for me to listen.

The priest who preached this morning was talking about separation and relationship. But what created the moment was a statement somewhere in the middle about holding back. This is perhaps what I struggle with most these days. There is a part of me that I hold back. Whether from myself, God or's what I do. I'm not sure if I've ever figured out how *not* to hold something back.

Sometimes it's because I don't want to feel exposed. Sometimes it's because I fear the reactions of other people to something I say or express. Other times it's because I worry about what saying something out loud does. Does it give the statement some power or effect that it would not have had but before giving it words?

The topic that is most easily avoided by me these days is my divorce. Hell, I still have yet to tell many friends and most family that I am already legally divorced. That should perhaps be a signal to me that I hold back. At moments I'm not sure how to begin the conversation. At other moments, I am ashamed of my own choice in all of this, and so I avoid speaking the words. This morning's gospel was at least partially about a woman whose daughter needs to be healed. She begs Jesus to heal her child. It reminds me again that my own daughter will need to be healed from all of this.

And then I remember of course we all need to be healed in some way. From some old hurt. For me, more than ever, I need to be healed of my own old pain, old shame. There's still so much I carry with me that doesn't need to be carried any longer. It can be released. It's time. But, for whatever reason, I insist on holding at least part of it back. Saving it for some later day. When of course, this is precisely what traps me in the same spot I sit in day in and day out.

Perhaps not holding back is what I fear. What if I let out everything? What will happen? Will I be enough? Will I be accepted? Even in my frailty. Even in my sadness. Even in my joy. From very early on in my life I learned that to be sure I was accepted I did that which was acceptable. I was the class clown as a kid. As a young adult I married a man I knew wouldn't be what i needed because he accepted me. He promised to love me. That was enough. That was all I ever wanted. Or so I thought. Then I seemingly woke up one day. I think more as a result of having my own children as anything else. Or maybe it was just time, I don't know. Once the egg cracks, the contents are hard to put back in. So I find myself struggling with holding back. Where it was second nature, it now doesn't make sense to me. So, I've taken small risks in letting things out. I'm more honest with God than I've ever been. When my tears rise to the surface, I let them flow. And I don't apologize for it anymore.

The message this morning to me was this: You are enough. And you always were. You didn't earn it. You can't buy it or barter for it. From the moment you took your first breath, you were enough, all on your own. You are the beloved. There can be no more or no less. Stop holding back who you are. I created you. I know you intimately, completely. Just like the father of the prodigal son, my arms remain open to you. Now you must open your arms. You must only accept the gift that has always been yours, your birthright. This was what you were created to do.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Organized Religion

The revelation that has struck me in the past few months is that organized religion, and particularly the christian church in america (in my case the Episcopal Church, but perhaps any church) evokes a sort of bipolar reaction in me. On one hand, I love the church. For all its flaws, and wingnuts, it is a place of community and of love at its best. On the other hand, the church can be as divisive and contrary as any other place on earth. Perhaps that is at its worst.

I have trouble with the idea of leaving it behind. Perhaps it's my upbringing. Or maybe all of the kind souls I've met there (or by connection with) that make me want to stay and see what's next. I'm not sure.

As a child the church was a comfort to me. My home life often felt chaotic and I often felt neglected. I was a needy child. I wanted someone to care about me and what I was doing. I found people like that in the church. The first example was probably my Pastor - the same guy who baptized me at 20 days old, confirmed me at 13 years old and was a support all through high school until his retirement in my college years. He was, and remains in my mind, one of the most compassionate and caring people I've ever met. Later, in my pre-teens and teen years it was youth counselors- all three of which I still maintain contact with despite our moves to different states and different lives. All three of those folks were Jesus with skin on for me. They loved and supported me through the turbulent years of my adolescense.

When I was in high school I started attending Teens Encounter Christ weekends (TEC). Those weekends were eye-opening, and I really began to come into my own in those years. I became less a follower and more a leader. I learned who I was in the light of my faith, and my faith became a living, breathing thing during that time in my life.

Later, in college, I found my way to the Episcopal church. I felt at ease there and enjoyed spending time with the priest and deacon at the church I was involved in during those four years. They were both, in vastly different ways, important influences for me.

From the time I graduated from college until perhaps 2003, I stumbled from church to church. I never felt at home, and I didn't stay any one place long. Part of this was actual geograhic moves from Tennessee to mid-Missouri back to the St. Louis area, and part of it was the changes in my life. The man who became my husband (who I met within 6 months of completing college) didn't particularly value church, and so I took my cues from him to some degree. Beginning around the time I gave birth to my daughter, I again began to yearn for a church home. At the time we were living in the City of St. Louis and so I attended the cathedral there. I loved worship there. The pomp and circumstance was beautiful, and I didn't stick out. I also didn't try very hard to become part of the community there. I was a new mother, working a lot of hours at a job I hated, trying to balance my life. I didn't make the time.

Slowly I moved away from church again, until about 8 months ago. My daughter, who is now 6, was beginning to ask me a lot of questions about church, God and death. She attended a Christian based preschool and then a catholic school, so her questions were a natural progression. I decided that it made sense to try and find a church home that could provide her with the community I felt as a child and teen. Almost completely by accident, I happened upon St. Stephens - an Episcopal church in a neighboring community from where we live. I started going there in February of this year with both of my babies - the little one came along in 2006.

The part I struggle with is the animosity. The gossip. The conflict. My idea of church is not defined by these things, and yet they exist. For all of the love and roses above about my "church history" - there were conflicts. One of the youth workers of my teenage years was forced out of our church over politics. In my childhood church our board of elders was constantly making life difficult for those that were not behaving as they should. TEC had its share of scandals and issues with those that were not Lutherans. For all the good, there was bad too I suppose. My last church home split over the ordination of Bishop Robinson a few years ago. All is not perfect. I get that. After all we humans run our churches. It can't be perfect.

What I find disheartening, or perhaps why I find myself feeling like a square peg at times is that I don't really care about the conflicts. I want to worship. I want to feel part of a community. That's about it. The color of the curtains, who sings at one point in the service and whether someone has Buddhist tendencies really don't much matter to me. I have gotten to the point in my life where I truly believe there are many paths to God. And I don't have a corner on the market. While I choose to recite (and to believe) the words of the Nicene Creed, I don't insist that you do the same thing. The church at times seems a confining and limiting institution that is outgrowing its usefulness. That's me stating it at its worst I suppose.

I'm still not sure I fit. For all the affection I feel for the church, I still feel as if I'm outside looking in. Perhaps it's me that hasn't figured out how to walk through the door yet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Tonight I was part of a small group talking about the concept of redemption. Particularly the concept that every experience we encounter in life has redemptive qualities if viewed in the light of faith.

Quite honestly, I struggled with the conversation. I held my tongue. I wanted to say, I don't know if I buy this.

Whether in my own life, or in the lives around me...there are experiences that are ugly. That hurt. That are tragic. I cannot see the redemptive value. Sure, one could argue that because of that experience I am more empathetic or I needed that experience to grow into the person I've become, blah, blah, blah....I'm not buying it. I'm not drinking the kool aid.

I think there are experiences in this life that have no value in and of themselves. Experiences that add pain or sorrow or hurt to our lives. Who knows what the value is 20 years from now? Who knows who we would become without that experience? To guess would be pure speculation.

How do you tell a child who was raped that perhaps that experience has some sort of redemptive value? It seems a pure slap in the face to me. How do you tell a child whose mother died in the bed with her that that experience is something that can be redemptive if only she lets God use that experience? It sounds so pollyannaish. So naive. So...just...wrong. It seems to me that saying that minimizes the experience, or perhaps suggests that we shouldn't acknowledge that evil exists, and at times invades our lives. It suggests that bad things happen to good people to teach them a lesson of some sort. So who chooses?

I'm not sure I can believe in a God who will choose to damage some people horribly so that they can see the redemption in the experience. I'm sure that the teacher didn't really mean that, but it seems a logical extension of the argument.

Perhaps it just hit too close to home. Or perhaps I'm having trouble seeing myself and my experiences as redemptive or worth being redeemed. Not sure.

To me, those experiences happened. They cannot be altered. I can only try to understand how I can move forward and not make mistakes because of those experiences. So that my life doesn't become a product of only the bad, but also the good. While that perhaps has value, the bad experience isn't what created the value.

This post isn't really complete. I have more to think about. And perhaps I need redemption more than I know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to the beginning

When I first started this blog, I called it "Now what?" because I was trying to figure out what was next for me - whether in my life, my relationships, my spirituality, my career, etc.

So, here I am, six months later, and I feel I've been living in the crossroads for sometime now. I feel my spirituality has been deepened and grown in new and refreshing ways. I feel more comfortable in prayer, and have started to develop rituals around my faith that make sense and make me feel more connected to God, to myself.

My marriage has effectively ended, and although that's a healthy thing for me, I'm still feeling pretty sad and uncertain about all of that. I'm having difficulty coping, and consequently I haven't told many people in my life about this development. I don't want to have to explain myself, and yet that's what I feel compelled to do when I try and tell someone about the divorce. It's complicated, messy. I can't say this area of my life feels any better. I hurt. It's tough. But I have a knowing that is different and new for me. A little bit of certainty I suppose.

My other relationships - friends, family...all are still complex. I find myself being more honest than I've been in a long, long time (if ever) with those closest to me. Still, I struggle with intimacy in relationships. I still feel slightly out of sorts. I discovered that someone in the court system found out about my divorce and felt it necessary to tell 10 or 12 others. That hurt somewhat. I didn't really want to be confronted about my relationship with husband by those I don't know very well. It makes it tough. People seem to want to know the whys and hows and what fors and I'm not willing to share that with the average person I know as an acquaintance. It's complicated.

As for my career/job/vocation...well, that's still very much up in the air. I'm enjoying my job more and more these days. Which is a confusing thing. When I started down this road I felt I was being called or tugged or pulled in a different direction, and today I'm not really sure at all about any of that. Perhaps I've had too much to contend with for me to really focus on that part of my life for now. Not sure, and not ready to make any decisions about any of it. Part of me knows that even contemplating a change in career makes me uneasy (to say the least)...but I'm ok with it conceptually. If it needs to happen, I can handle that, I'm fairly confident of that.

I'm still drawn to the river, and I'm still reading Women who run with the Wolves. Everytime I pick it back up, I am opened to something new. So, it is still important for me to look at from time to time. I'm still struggling to find some balance in my life between work, home, kids, life, etc. But, I imagine that will likely be with me for some time. Life is busy and full and wonderful in many, many ways. I feel cared for by many of those around me, and while that makes me nervous in some ways, it also brings a new kind of peace.

I recently saw a sign on the side of the road in a rural area that is known for its Mennonite population. It said "Prepare to Meet God." If my whole life could be a prayer... A preparation to meet God in every person and every thing that I encounter...imagine that.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Living History

Tonight I took my children to see my soon to be ex-husband in the hospital. He's been there for a few days, but I didn't tell the kids at first. He has never managed his medical conditions. He doesn't take prescribed meds on time, doesn't watch his diet, doesn't exercise, etc. So, every now and again his body reaches crisis point. This is by far the worst instance. He let his blood sugar get so out of control, that he should have fallen into a coma. Thankfully, he didn't. Still he spent 24 hours in Intensive Care, and is still hospitalized because his body was so out of sorts.

I've been doing what I do. Taking care of him. Trying to fix things with my sheer will. It doesn't work, but I don't have to feel all the feelings that come with an experience like this. This morning when I went to see him, I broke down as I left the hospital. I don't know how to fix him. I don't know how to make him see that he has to stop this madness before he ends up in the ground, and leaves behind our two babies.

As a child, my father was continually ill. His lifestyle (although I didn't know this then) caused a lot of health crises for him. Smoking, drinking, eating crap, not exercising, binge dieting...none of it is good for one's physical body. So, from time to time, he would wind up in the hospital. Hooked up to tubes and ventilators and clinging to this life. It used to scare the hell out of me. All the beeping machines and uncertainty. I just got very quiet. I didn't cry. I didn't scream. I just got quiet. I didn't know what to do, and so I tried to blend into the woodwork. To make myself unnoticeable. The culmination of my father's health issues although certainly not the end happened when I was 13 and my dad underwent 5 heart bypasses. He was in surgery for over 12 hours, and then in pretty bad shape for days afterwards. He became depressed after the surgery, talking about ending his life. It was a tough time. I was entering high school, had endured some pretty scary stuff personally and then I had this parent who I felt needed taking care of. And so I tried to take care of him. I tried not to make trouble, to please him above all else. Even now, I struggle with my instinct to try and fix him.

Now, I'm watching my daughter, almost six years old. She was scared tonight. She's confused and doesn't know what to think. Her daddy is sick. She can't fix him, and she's uneasy. I feel like I'm watching myself. It makes me cry. I never wanted this for her. Perhaps we are all destined to repeat only what we have known. I found a man that I have to take care of. And I can leave that man, but my children...they have to keep dealing with his inability to care for himself.

I will admit, I am not perfect in this area. I let myself swell to 350 pounds. In the past two years though, I have been learning (self-teaching perhaps) that I have to care for myself. I've learned to eat better, exercise and take time for me. I'm not where I need to be, but I'm a hell of a lot better off than I was. What did it for me...what made me change... was my son. His health issues took a lot of energy, and i was afraid if I didn't lose the weight, I wouldn't be able to keep up with him. I would wind up with children who had to care for their mother. So I've instituted changes. I don't know how to convince my husband to do the same. I think it is a self-actualization kind of thing. It doesn't happen for you until you're ready for it.

Still I am sad. Sad that my baby has to worry about her daddy at 5 years old. Sad that I have so completely married my father, that I didn't learn the lessons I needed to learn sooner. All I can do is reassure my baby. Tell her that daddy will be ok, and hold her in my arms so she feels secure. Or as secure as I can help her feel.

Monday, July 27, 2009


So, here I am, at the end of July, and feeling a little dazed. It's been a crazy last several months in so many ways. Changes happening everywhere, and I'm ...well...I'm not sure what I am.

I have decided, without formally making a decision, that I'm going to quit therapy for now. I'm not seeing benefit at this point in my life. I saw benefits to the idea, but, ultimately don't feel any better, and I feel myself becoming less and less honest in the sessions. This is my tendency, and I'm working on that in all aspects of my life...honesty, that is.

So, I don't know. Am I in some sort of denial if I quit? I'm ambivalent. On one hand I know therapy has value and its place in most people's lives, but in my own, today, I don't see the value. I'm fairly well aware of my "issues." I see things fairly clearly most days. And most days I like my life, hell, some days I even love my life. For all of the misgivings in the past six months, I feel stronger in many ways. More able to weather the storms I suppose.

I'm still sitting on my divorce papers. They are signed and ready to be finalized, but somehow I'm not ready today. I'm working through this process, and I realize that in my rush to "move onward and upward" I forgot how I felt about all of it. And I feel sad and angry and also a little crazy. So, I'm letting that happen as it was meant to happen for now. Slowly, surely, I'll get through this time. I want to be sure I'm sure. I thought I was "sure" when I got married, but when I look back there were some pretty huge indicators that I wasn't "sure" at all, but rather that I was determined to *do* something. If I had a husband then that told the outside world I was wonderful in some ways. I was loveable and cared for. I felt secure. Now I'm struggling with just the opposite. What does it say about me that I'm divorcing the man I vowed to stick with forever? What does it say that I'm doing this despite the fact that we have children who will be affected by this? I don't like the answers to those questions. And so I'm not ready yet.

Am I in denial about all of it? Well, I'm not sure today. Perhaps tomorrow is going to be a day of clarity for me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Messin up my vibe

This week has been an oddity - busy at work (though not making much money), busy at home, busy brain and avoiding what needs to happen next...

Life at work has been much the same. I had a series of fairly distraught clients in this week - which is slightly unusual. While a lot of family law clients are dismayed, it isn't an every day thing to see so many people, women in particular, come through my doors that are upset, tearful and worn out. I can identify with so much of what they tell me, that sometimes I have to consciously separate myself from their stories. Thankfully I have never known physical violence in a relationship, but I'm scared for these women. In the back of my mind is a protective instinct. Particularly for the ones that are experiencing violence of some sort currently. I've been very affected by the latest in a string of murders of women by their husbands/boyfriends/lovers. This last one was a lady that I saw in the courthouse the day she died. She parked her car right outside of the building I work in. No doubt she walked by my window on her way to court that morning. She never made it back to her car. She was intercepted by her estranged husband and killed - left in a ditch. Her car sat alone - next to mine - and when I left that night and went home to my children, I had no idea she was gone - she would never kiss her babies good bye again. She had three small children. Did I mention her name was Jill? Her children are going to grow up without their mother. I cannot understand a world like this one. My heart hurts.

Life at home, well my Rudy got sick Wednesday night - strep throat... and something not yet identifiable. My son has had lots of health issues since he was born. I used to get really worried, but he has done so well the last year, that I had forgotten that fear in the pit of my stomach...until Thursday. I knew he didn't feel well Wednesday night. In same way that I instinctually knew he was sick in the past, I knew he wasn't well. By morning, he had a high fever. I babied my baby - fed him applesauce, gave him medicine and held him while he slept. I called one of the few numbers I don't have to look up - our beloved pediatrician. Eventually we got the news it was strep throat, and got him on antibiotics. He also got another round of steroid cream for his eczema. Everything seemed to be ok, until we got to the pool today and I discovered he had a rash all over his torso. This is his third drug reaction. They always scare me. I don't know what exactly to do, and I'm not in any sort of control. So, I took him back to the after hours clinic - so they could tell me what I already knew - another drug allergy to add to his growing list and we got another prescription. Sometimes I think I cherish my son even more because of his health issues - he's had so many scares in such a short life. But what a great kid. He has a sweetness like no other child I've known.

In the rest of my life, and the real reason I started this post...I attended my small group Wednesday night. It didn't go really well for me. It ended up being a discussion prompted by one of the members in the group. I look forward to this group - it centers my week and I feel encouraged and inspired by something or someone every week. That didn't happen this week. The person that dominated the meeting was upset by a solo that was sung in church some weeks ago. (and what she perceives the solo to represent) She did not believe the solo fit into the Anglican way of church or liturgy. She also mentioned that she (or perhaps others, I'm not sure) were also put off by a sermon that was given some months ago by a priest who is occasionally part of the church I attend. He's not the rector of the church (who I have come to know, and really like), but I have come to respect and genuinely like this priest. And I will say, unabashedly, he is one of the reasons I have become involved in the parish I am in. The sermon she referenced was actually one I still remember parts of. It meant a lot to me at the time, and was really inspiring. It was precisely what I needed to hear at that moment, and I am thankful to God for the words (and for the speaker). I was moved to tears at one point in the message. So to hear someone be critical of this sermon, well, it bothers me. Try as I might, it changes my opinion about this member of my group. I think I am probably also upset by the fact that while I assumed that the community I have ventured into has it's issues and problems like any other, I didn't realize these sorts of issues or conflicts existed. I'm disappointed. I'm not sure with whom. But nonetheless I feel let down. I guess it's hard for me to understand. We are all touched, moved and impacted by different things in this life. What may be something incredibly important for me to hear this Sunday may not be what another person wants to hear per se. But I think God puts our rear ends in the right seats/places/times so that we can be moved, touched and impacted by his servant's message. That servant might be black, he might use different words than we are accustomed to hearing in the predominantly white Episcopal church in the United States, he might not stand behind the pulpit...nevertheless God has placed this person in our path for a reason. If we can just see past our own prejudices - whatever they might be - we just might be amazed. I know I was. For such an inclusive sort of church as the Episcopal church aspires to be, I was disappointed with this person's inability to make room for the woman who sang the solo or for the priest either. She indicated that the music wasn't the sort she enjoys (the woman sang a spiritual sort of song, not a hymn), and that she really couldn't accept the woman's gift and felt it didn't have a place in the corporate worship of the church. The speaker was very emotional about all of this, and I have no doubt her feelings are genuine. Yet, I still find myself disappointed in her. What if there was one person who needed that message more than they needed anything else at that moment? I know that happens. I've been that person, starving for hope. And so we close off the message because it doesn't fit within our prescribed framework for our liturgy...well that's not an acceptable result for me.

What a week.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Carrot Cake

Who would've thought all the dysfunctionality in my marriage could be summed up by two words? Carrot cake.

Wednesday was my birthday. It was a lovely day. I really enjoyed it. I met with a guy who has become a spiritual advisor to me first thing in the morning. I got a good (but mild) workout in. I had lunch with lots of friends. I went and had a massage and a manicure. And I rounded out the day with dinner with my kids and a thought-provoking session with the small group I've been participating in at the church I go to. All in all, it was a really nice day. It was the first time in recent memory that I did things I wanted to do all day long. My soon to be ex-husband called and wished me a happy birthday and indicated he had something for me. Typically we don't see one another on Wednesdays because he gets home after I leave in the morning, and he leaves out for work before I return from work. This Wednesday was no exception to the rule.

So yesterday (the day after my birthday), I went to work and caught up on what I left undone Wednesday and generally got my house (office) in order for the weekend. I didn't want to have too much to clean up for the half day I intended on working Friday. When I returned home I found a plant sitting in our kitchen next to a carrot cake. My husband came around the corner and said "Happy Birthday." I'm sure the look on my face was fairly clear because he said, "What's wrong?" I couldn't help myself, the words starting coming and I didn't bother to censor myself. (Something I'm having a tough time doing these days) I said something to the effect of, "How long have you known me?" My husband looked perplexed, but answered me with "12 years or so." I said back, "Have you EVER in the 12 years you've known me EVER known me to eat, look at or talk about eating carrot cake?" The fact of the matter is I HATE carrot cake. I'm not ambivalent about how I feel about carrot cake. I don't like it. I don't like the texture, I don't like the smell, I don't like the look of it. I HATE carrot cake. There is something unnatural about vegetables in cake.

My husband on the other hand, well, he loves the crap. He can eat an entire carrot cake on his own. How do I know this? I've made them, and he's eaten the entire thing. I've bought them from different stores, and he's eaten the entire thing. Now, perhaps I'm being too hard on this man. Surely he can't be expected to know everything about me? But the thing is carrot cake is one of two desserts I really dislike. I don't meet too many sugary foods that I am not fond of. Let's face it when you spend several years over 300 lbs, you likely are a fan of sugar. In fact, had this been a cheesecake or a chocolate cake or a peach pie...well I would've gained a few lbs this weekend downing it. Carrot cake and pumpkin pie...really the only two things I can't stand that are sugary by nature. And they both come from orange things that don't belong in sweets! How hard is it to remember that? Really?!

The silly thing is, I shouldn't be mad at my husband. Not really. Because a long time ago, I allowed every one of the things I liked or wanted or desired to be usurped by the things that he liked or wanted or desired. At some point I cannot even identify, I decided that he was the more important person in our relationship, and that my job was to learn how to be the woman he wanted rather than the woman I am. He didn't ask me to do this, and for a long time I didn't even realize I was doing it. Once the realization hit me (probably a few years ago), we've been in a downward spiral in our relationship. Because once you figure out something like this, you feel compelled to change it. I insisted on eating Mexican food, seeing movies I wanted to see, going places I wanted to go and taking time for myself. It was in direct contradiction to the way I had been for 10 years. It created a strain in our relationship to the point of breaking. I made small decisions that said I was important, and I don't like carrot cake dammit.

In the past year, the thing my husband has accused me of most has been that "I've changed." And I must admit he's absolutely right. I have changed. For him, there is an assumption that it must be a new man. Someone that I am now conforming to. A few years ago I blew up at him over the silliest thing - very similar to the "Watergate carrot cake incident." For as long as I can remember, my husband has eaten off my plate. At a restaurant, at home, wherever. He will have piles and piles of food on his plate (the man can eat)... but he will feel compelled to reach over and take something that is mine and eat it. He typically doesn't ask or if he does, it's a foregone conclusion anyway. One day I was writing in a journal and I realized how angry that makes me. Why? Not because the food is important, I typically didn't finish what I had anyway. It was the taking part. It was the "I'm more important than you" in this relationship. You are secondary to me. I can take what you have. I can take who you are. I can use up your time and energy and spirit. These things are mine for the taking.

One of the people I've been seeking out as a spiritual advisor asked me Wednesday, when were you happy in the relationship? I've been thinking about that. I don't really remember. Or perhaps that's a cop out. My marriage gave me a certain level of security and safety. I felt protected. I also felt wanted in some ways. When I first removed my wedding ring, it was an internal struggle. What was I telling the outside world? That I wasn't wanted anymore? That I was alone? My greatest fear all along has been in being alone. I realize now more than ever I've been alone for years. I can paint it anyway I want to others, I was alone in my marriage.

So, was I ever happy? No, I suppose I wasn't. On some level, I didn't quite think I deserved that part. But more than ever, I craved it. So instead of admitting it years ago, I overate, I had babies, I buried myself in my work...the list is a mile long of the things I did to hide from what I couldn't admit. I was unhappy, unfulfilled and had lost who I was.

Today, I crave relationships that nourish me from the inside out. I find myself distancing myself from relationships that don't do that for me. I also crave a relationship with a man that is full, rich and sweet. I don't know if I'll discover that along the way. There's still so much for me to unravel, that I feel I'm ill-prepared to accept another's love. But acceptance is what paves the way. I've always been a "giver" in most of my relationships. It is complicated and difficult for me to accept love, affection, attention, etc. I was reading Henri Nouwen this morning and one of the passages talks about how difficult it is to accept gifts. How true that is. Yet, in acceptance I find what I need. And there's room there for happiness, too.

Monday, June 29, 2009


This weekend I went to the Lake of the Ozarks with some family. I hesitated in deciding to go. Mostly, I have trouble coping with more than a few hours with my parents, in particular these days with my father. I've felt this way for a long time, but I just sucked it up for the most part, and lived with him and his way of being for quite some time. Lately, I haven't felt up to it, and for the most part I haven't forced myself to deal with him for more than a brief visit.

My niece and nephew were going, and they pleaded with me, because they knew that I would entertain them - take them out on my father's boat, buy them junk food and hang out with them. I missed being with them, so I went along for the ride. My two kids were thrilled to be going - they like the water, the boat and the lack of structure for short amounts of time.

So, off we went. The kids had fun I think, and I managed it fairly well. We had one minor skirmish, but we moved on. I took the kids out on the water, got some sun on my pasty skin and relaxed some, too.

What I didn't expect, was to find such a peace. I went out on the Lake Saturday night for awhile - at the point the sun was starting to set behind the trees. It is a beautiful place to be. All at once, I began to pray. It occurred to me that what I'm learning most these days is that life, and discernment and love, do not have to be a constant struggle. Much of my life has been marred with struggle. It's hard for me to let go of that way of life.

In some of my reading recently, the author of one book talked about when you enter into the process of reclaiming your soul, you don't even realize what you are doing at first. You are simply drawn into it, and you cannot fully articulate why or how. I've felt that way. It's hard to explain to other people, but I feel a renewal of life, of love. It's a wonderful thing. My prayers have went from desperate pleas of a woman out of touch with herself and her environment to thanksgiving for the gifts in my life. When I was looking at the lake and the trees and the hills, all I could think was, "I surrender all." Not because I'm too tired to fight anymore or because it's too difficult. But, because I want to surrender all. I want to release the need to fight and struggle with myself, my soul, my God. So my prayers were short sentences - "God, if you want me to be a priest, I will do that; if you want me to be a lawyer, I will do that; if you want me to be something else entirely, I will do that." I don't have to struggle to figure it out - I just have to surrender it to the One who already knows my heart. And then listen for His voice. There's no strife in that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Yesterday I went to a day spa and had a facial. Let me start off this blog by letting you in on two little secrets - First, I'm not a touchy person. I'm not sure how I got this way - perhaps it was my parents were not/are not touchy people. I can't recall the last time I hugged either of my parents. I hug, kiss and love on my kids, but that's about as far as I go. I don't typically hug other people. I have difficulty reaching out. Part of me craves physical contact with people, but it just doesn't come easily or naturally to me. I think at least part of my hang up is in my physical body. Having been 350 lbs for some amount of time, and then losing 125 lbs, but still not connecting my current physical being to who is looking back at me in a mirror. Well, it's confusing. I'm disconnected in large part to my physical body. When people touch you, you quickly become in touch with your physical body, and I've never been particularly comfortable with that.

Second, I don't get naked. Now for a facial you only get half naked (waist up) it's not all the way. Regardless I don't take my clothes off in public regardless of a sheet that covers me. Call it hyper-modesty, odd, whatever. Even after birthing two children (and all the people who see you naked during that process), I still would rather not show any part of my skin to other people. It makes me uneasy. And I'm not a big fan of seeing other people naked. Over 12 years of marriage, it still strikes me as odd that my husband can walk around naked and not be bothered at all by that fact. I'm used to seeing him naked, but I've never gotten completely comfortable being naked around him.

The further I get into this process of discernment (or whatever I call it today) the more I realize that both of my secrets have to do with intimacy and vulnerability. I don't want others to see my frailty. I would rather not be touched, whether it's emotionally or physically. I like my sense of control. Anything that undermines that, well, thanks, but no thanks.

I had a conversation last night with my husband (albeit soon to be ex). He said that he could look at me and he knew that I was not in our marriage anymore. That as much as he would like to salvage things, he could tell that my heart just wasn't it in anymore. While this is true, I was surprised that he could perceive what I haven't been able to say. I've had a lot of rationales for why our marriage is ending. But, I didn't want to admit the big truth, which is that for reasons I don't entirely understand, my heart hasn't been in it for a long time. As much as I tried to force myself to comply, to stay, to do the "right thing," to keep up the act, ultimately I couldn't do it. I just lost the ability to maintain the facade. This conversation unnerved me because I felt exposed. Naked. Vulnerable. My husband knows me well, and has known me for 12 years. What I assumed I had hidden well, was obvious to him.

How much greater then does God know me? This must mean that my ability to hide my face from Him/Her hasn't been nearly as successful as I thought. "To You all hearts are open, all desires known and from you no secrets are hid." This must mean that God knows the deepest parts of me. The ones that I have hidden so deep and tried like hell to forget. The notion that the naked body is shameful because sex is shameful because I am...well you get the idea. The idea that in moments of intimacy with others or with God, I have to admit I'm scared, hurt and sad sometimes, and that I can't control the deluge of emotions at times. The fact that I have to stop holding back the tears and let them fall so that I can be cleansed, so that I can begin to unseal that which I have long since sealed and buried.

I've booked a massage next week on my 34th birthday - it's almost an experiment in how I cope with getting naked and being touched.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Heading to the Mountain?

As usual, I've been reading a lot lately. A wide of variety of things from Henri Nouwen to Clarissa Pinkola Estes to Eckhart Tolle. Life still feels like it is converging, and I still feel slightly (ok maybe more than that) out of control. But, I'm managing. One of the concepts that has repeated itself in some way in all that I've read recently is the concept of going to the mountain. It's a Buddhist concept in some ways, but it seems like the next step to me. Therapy, trusted advisors, community...all of it has been very important to me in this journey. But, now seems the time to go away, at least for a day or two and try to understand it all in the context of my life and faith. I don't know that I want or need direct answers to all the questions milling about in my head, but I do want to feel as if some things are making sense in some small ways.

The other piece of this journey to the mountain is that I want some peace. I don't feel as if I get much of that on a regular basis. I've struggled to create a place for peace in my life, but life, well, it tends to get in the way. A divorce, 2 little ones, a chaotic job...well it doesn't allow me much room some days to feel at peace in my life. I've finally gotten to the point in my life where I really crave peace.

Last, but not least of all, I've realized that I haven't really allowed myself to mourn the loss of my marriage. Recently this became very clear to me when I realized in the middle of a seminar about divorce and its effects on children and tears came to my eyes, that I haven't faced my feelings about the divorce. I've avoided feeling the feelings. I would rather not deal directly with the pain of it. And I know it's time.

So off I go. And hopefully when I come down the other side I will have some ideas about where I go from here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Last month and this month, I have spent a Friday and Saturday hanging out with and attending classes designed to assist me in the process of discernment. The group of people is varied and interesting, no one much like me at all, other than our chosen denomination of the Christian faith. The group has been interesting and engaging, and I've enjoyed it.

One of the concepts we've discussed in both small groups and in the class I'm enrolled in is the concept of Catechumenate. It's a mouthful. Essentially, if I'm understanding, in the early Church before infant baptism became so prevalent, adults who were contemplating being baptized into the Church went through a period of time in the Catechumenate. I'm going to write my research paper on the concept, because it is fascinating. This period of time was normally years, rather than months. During this time, those in the Catechumenate prayed, fasted, and generally prepared themselves to be received into the communion. Why don't we do this anymore? There are references to "re-adopting" the practice in the last Lambeth Conference concerning the Anglican communion, but so far, well, we're still generally ok with baptizing infants, and in the case of adults after a brief "educational" session.

I think the reason I'm drawn to the concept of the Catechumenate is because it involves some soul-searching. Rather than just follow like sheep being led to...well...slaughter...we make a conscious decision to be or not be a part of the Church. Today I would dare to say that we spend precious little time on the concepts of call, vocation, discernment. Where are we being called to next? Well, that seems a bit hard to say for me right now, but I'm finally asking the questions and not presupposing the answers. Someone said yesterday (quoting someone else) that "vocation is the way in which God wishes to save us." I like that, and I'm going to mull it over. More on that after I've thought and prayed on it.

I've realized more and more that I am drawn into community now more than ever. Ever since I've been Episcopalian - which is about 12 years - I have been uneasy with the "Passing of the Peace." I'm still trying to understand why, but I think it's the intimacy of the act. Looking someone in the eyes, and wishing them God's peace. It makes me uncomfortable. I'm at odds with myself, and so wishing someone else peace in such a close contact way throws me off. It's one of things I'm trying to get. When I figure it out, well I'll be that much closer to understanding my separation from God and from everyone else. My self-imposed separation. The oddity - I didn't used to be this way. When I was younger - 18, 19, 20...I was fairly free with affection. I hugged and touched the people I loved with an ease that escapes me now at 33. It's another piece of the puzzle. Sometimes I think it stems from a general feeling of safety I had that I don't have now. Which seems odd, but nonetheless it's there.

I'm thankful today. Despite the wreckage that is my life these days, there are bright moments. I have found a trusted counselor. I have found a spiritual advisor. I have found two different faith communities that are loving and nurturing places. If I can just let myself live in this and be in this, and not judge, analyze or deconstruct it all, I can move into the next moments of my life with sureness of foot and steadfastness of heart. I'm hopeful. Perhaps God really does *want* to save me. Now I have to want to save myself.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Living in the Now

Lately, I've been reading Eckhart Tolle. He is difficult at times to understand. Mostly it's just a way of speaking, doing and being that seems foreign to me. He has a book called Stillness Speaks that I've been mulling over at night or sometimes early in the morning before the day has gotten fully underway. He talks primarily about living in what he calls the "now." If I'm getting it (and I don't know that I am entirely)...his idea is that we are often focused on the before, the after, the not yet, etc. In being and doing this way, we miss the current state we are in - just being. He suggests that instead of just "being" in the things we do everyday we construct or deconstruct everything to the nth degree, and that we miss much of our lives and the point life is making to us because of this.

As I said, I don't totally get him, but I think he has a lot of good points. For instance, instead of just "letting the truth" be. We create stories and myths about the truth to try and describe it.

With the loss of my marriage and much of my security lately, I've been in "mighty deconstruction" mode. I've went back to therapy. I've been trying to figure out how I got here, what happened along the way and what lies ahead. While identifying patterns and how to not repeat them is important, I think that fundamentally that is part of my problem. Rather than just feel the pain, the sadness, the anger over the events of my life (both the ones I could control, and more importantly the ones I could not control), I deconstruct them until they are no longer my life, but someone outside of me. I create an "other" that is me - but the hurt, wounded me that no one gets to see.

I recognize the "reward" aspect of doing things this way. It's easier. I can blame someone else for my issues...or I can do what I normally do, blame myself then hurry stuff those feelings down with some obsessive behavior and keep on keeping on. I don't have to feel the painful feelings that way. I can keep up the illusion that is that I am the strong one, the person everyone knows has it together. What a crazy world I've created for myself. But perhaps instead of spending lots of energy figuring out how I got here, I should just be "here." Live in the now and stop the damn analyzing. Afterall, for all of my well-laid plans, I am where I am. And I don't mean that in a bad way.

I actually feel really lucky these days. I'm approaching my 34th birthday and I'm finally letting all of my assumptions and presuppositions fall away. What I "should" and "must" do is giving way to a new, renewed sense of life that I can't begin to explain. I woke up this morning. And I was healthy in mind and body. My babies are healthy and happy. I have a job that I am good at, and can earn enough to support myself and my babies. I can laugh. I'm learning to love myself. I mightve taken the long way around, but I'll make it all the same. I feel the Divine in and around me. Last night I talked to my grandmother (dead for 11 years) in my sleep. I know all is well. So, if this is living in the now, I don't want to wake up to the life I knew. I think I'll stay awhile. Even when it hurts. I know I'm alive. Amen.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

When it's over

I've come to the realization that my marriage is not likely to last much longer. It's been a slow realization, but it's becoming clearer to me everyday. This makes me sad for a whole host of reasons. First, and probably foremost is the fact that I have children. My kids will not get to see each of their parents everyday growing up. They will miss out on having an intact family, and it doesn't matter how hard we try to make things 'normal' for them, it won't be. They are likely to have "step" somethings, blended families, more than one "home." As a divorce lawyer, I spend a lot of time reassuring my clients that it will be ok, but I sure as hell never wanted this for my kids.

I hate to give up the illusion that I could keep it together for life. I took my vows seriously. I don't like to give up, walk away. I'm stubborn. Call it the "German" influence in my DNA, I hate to admit that maybe I can't do everything, be everything, achieve everything. That's difficult, too.

And of course part of me is just sad. While I won't air our dirty laundry on a blog, I think we both went into our marriage with the best intentions. That we could last, despite the odds that exist. Somewhere along the line, it just started unraveling. The "what if's?" are a big part of all of this too. It makes me sad.

Yesterday's gospel lesson was especially poignant. The Pentecost story - but the phrase that got me had to do with the idea was the one about how God cannot reveal everything to us all at once. It made me recall a song - "you could touch it, but your heart would break." The idea that some things are better dealt with as they come, rather than anticipating, analyzing, figuring it all out to the degree that living becomes a planned event.

For today, I'm just sad.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Growing Young

Yesterday my oldest graduated from kindergarten. I watched her sing her songs, get her diploma and hug her friends. She had a great time, and I enjoyed watching her. It literally seems like a few weeks ago I brought her home from the hospital, full of fear and awe over what God had created, and I had carried, nourished and brought forth and was now entrusted with for the rest of my life.

The first night she was home, her dad and my husband, had to go back to work. He was working third shift back then, which meant we were home together for a few hours and then he headed off to work while I kept the new addition to our family from 10pm to 9am by myself. I was scared. She cried, and cried...and then cried some more. I didn't know what to do. I was tired, sore and above all I was terrified there was something wrong with her. It turns out she was adjusting to her new environment. Everything was fine by about 5am. I'm not sure she ever cried like that again. She was a fat, happy baby. She nursed well, reached her milestones early and generally made us smile and laugh often. She was, and is, a precocious, friendly kid; the kind who adapts easily to the environment around her and loves life.

Now that she's nearly 6 years old, she talks back, rolls her eyes and is still smart as a whip. The thing I enjoy the most...watching her when she doesn't know I'm watching. When she's playing pretend or talking to herself. I love seeing these moments, wandering what she will become. Who will she be? What will she do with her life? Will she ever know the depth of my love for her? More than anything I want for her, I want her to know she is loved. Unconditionally.

As a little girl, I never understood that. I'm sure I was loved, I just never felt it. I felt criticized and condemned. I felt alone a lot. As if I didn't quite fit anywhere.

So many dreams and hopes I have for my only daughter. I can't wait to see her where her life will lead her next. I'm glad I get to watch and listen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This has been a strange week for me. It's Wednesday, and I feel like I'm catching up on the all the stuff I've been neglecting at work for the past few weeks, BUT I have officially disengaged from lots of the technology in my life. This is a pretty monumental change for me.

I've carried a Blackberry for almost 7 years - back when it was a big, ugly contraption all the way to today when it's a cute little red thing. It was a job requirement at my last firm, no choice about it. You had to be accessible all the time to clients, which in turn meant very little "down time." When I started my own practice about a year ago, I got one of my own that I paid for. This past week I decided it was time for a change.

The problem isn't the blackberry, or email or facebook. The problem is with me. I cannot seem to disengage from work. When someone emails me or calls at 10pm, I feel the need to at least look at what has been said or written. I can't stop myself from looking, trying to help and ultimately getting myself worked up about whatever the email or voicemail says.

So, I ditched my blackberry over the weekend and disconnected from Facebook for the most part. And I can't say I'm too sad about it. At all. It's nice to not feel as if I'm bombarded by messages I don't want to deal with at home at all hours of the day and night. I think I'm going to like this new phase in my life.

The facebook decision also hasn't been very difficult, but emanated from something different than the need to get away from work. I was on the phone with an old friend recently, and about halfway through the conversation I welled up with tears. It was so *good* to hear her voice. I could feel the love and concern in her words and her inflections. It was then that I decided I needed a break from the "email/texting" way of life. While email is a wonderful, powerful tool, it also dehumanizes us over time. Rather than call someone up or go to visit them, we email. It's faster. We can multitask at the same time. It's easier and more efficient. But at the base level, we miss something in that form of communication. We miss tone, inflection, tears, anger, indignation. All the emotions that we might feel or the other might feel are missing and lost in translation. So, I've started to avoid email too. I've been picking up the phone as opposed to dropping a quick line of email. I really believe these changes will alter the course of my life in some ways.

And so I'm happy to be disengaged.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Yesterday I went to seminary...well not exactly. I started something called the Episcopal School for Ministry. It's a small group of folks that meet once a month on a Friday night and Saturday day. You pick one of the classes, but the group as a whole spends Friday night in community. It was really a great experience, and I'm headed back today for my first "class" experience.

I'm not sure what I expected, but this road that I'm on has led me to some interesting people who I see I can learn so much from. Most of the people in the program are significantly older than I am. Which is to say they likely have wisdom I don't have, so i know there is much to be absorbed and learned through this process. The really great thing is how open and engaged everyone is. Quite honestly I'm used to hanging around other lawyers. We tend to be pretty surface, gossipy kind of people. We don't typically get beyond that, even when we are good friends. In the ESM group, in the first night I met these people, most were willing to share insights and life experiences that were at once personal and touching.

In recent weeks, my faith journey has felt very much like "climbing to." There's this great song by Rich Mullins where he says "I don't know if I am climbing to or falling in..." He's speaking of his faith and his journey to faith. Most days lately I feel it has been a struggle - a climbing experience. A lot of effort, and sometimes very exhausting. But last night it felt more like "falling in." I don't mean that it was easy or simple, but rather that I could relax into the fall. Falling is a scary sensation, and I think Rich knew that when he picked that phrase. Because falling means vulnerability and a loss of control on the way down. But if I can allow myself to fall in, then I can escape the difficulty of the climb for a period and find the rest and peace I desire.

The other part of that song is Rich's wish for his listener, "May you know with all the saints, the height, the depth and the width and the length of the love of God." The professor in charge of the program quoted a passage in Ephesians where the stanza above comes from in describing the study of theology. I'm eager to know what's next for me in this journey, but I hope a greater and deeper knowledge and understanding of the love of God is a part of whatever is to come.