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.