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.