FYI: Rant ahead…
Peculiar, I think, the lack of (or my perception of the lack of) social media engagement around our son joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both B and I are standing back in amazement, actually, as close family members like and love and even repost the announcement and NOT ONE of our friends or vast community of connections SAYS ANYTHING. OK, is this a touchy subject?
And, if our other son continues in his area of passion and follows his heart and intellect right into the RCMP, and we announce that with love and excitement (and yes fear and trembling) will we be met with like SILENCE?
It’s not that we need approval. It’s not that we need much at all. But if these friends of ours, these hundreds of connections of ours, care just a wee tiny bit about us, about our family, and know anything at all about the vast wilderness of parenting that includes directionless kids, confused kids, depressed kids, kids that are kids and yet adults, kids that move away and come back, kids that love you and reject you as they are becoming themselves, then surely they know what a BIG DEAL it is when your kid finds their thing, aside from all the fear and trembling and wondering at what that thing is, and just FOLLOW THEIR HEART into SOMETHING BEYOND THEMSELVES.
You don’t have to sign a petition, agree to a set of statements, promise anything at all. You aren’t saying yes to war, or rumours of war. Really, you aren’t! You are just being a supportive and loving friend to us. To me.
Surely this matters? Do I hear an amen?
Or, is it like everything else these days, everything is polarized, under tension, fraught with fear of taking a stance or offending the easily offended. So much so that even liking something may give someone the idea that this inherently means you are agreeing with a philosophy or a world view or something gigantic, when all you are really doing is LIKING your friend’s happiness, joy, sense of relief that their kid is becoming something new. Right?
I don’t know, maybe, like always, I’m just looking for the meaning beyond the matter. I’m wondering WHY?
And I just do, I do feel, like the rest of you maybe also feel, a twinge of hurt, when others are silent.
My son has signed up, signed on, agreed to some pretty heavy stuff that falls under that heading of the greater good. He’s heading to boot camp in less than 2 weeks. And I’m just processing all this as a mom (seasoned with a big dose of mama bear!!). I’ll be processing it for at least the next 5 years, maybe more, because with his decision we become “Military Family”. So your support matters to me, perhaps more than it should. I’m hearing the silence speak, perhaps where it isn’t saying anything at all. Yet more edges on me that require some honing!
As my grandfather used to say, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken!
When the sun is book-ended by cloud
and the kitchen lights are lit by 3,
when long-term plans are
no longer relevant after darkness falls,
when the evening hours outlast your novel,
and tones tint deeper than a glass of red can reach,
pour a bath, light a candle, soak
and say goodnight,
When sons are gone,
and daughters pending plans mean life apart,
when the stranger in your bed is you,
and friends are snowbirds, and birds
of a different feather,
and you cannot remember a particular song
that once called your soul awake,
pour a bath, light a candle, soak
and say goodnight,
When laughter is a needle skip on vinyl,
and joy is what you try to do,
when last week’s inspired thought is vaguely passive,
when mice leave their evidence on the stove,
and the dog paces, paces, with relentless sighs,
and you don’t know what to do, to do,
pour a bath, light a candle, soak
and say good night,
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
And Spring, like a shock of hair falling lush
across the pale face of winter,
will come and wake you,
melt ice tears from your silent waiting eyes,
and kiss your forehead warm lipped like a lover,
and you will rise, dance barefoot
in the garden on smoldering grasses,
yes, you will dance again in golden dusk light come,
come again, yes, come.
I didn’t expect to feel it in my body, my heart. The SoulStream facilitator lead us to recall examples of feeling like a stranger. I casually offered up the time I was excommunicated from, “put out” of, the church of my formative years. I shared how my faith family unrelated by blood yet named aunties and uncles and almost cousins, formally rejected and turned their backs on me in a final “just” response to my engagement to a man who was not of their choosing.
And maybe because I knew what was coming all along, maybe because I had hardened my heart, maybe because my love for my fiance transcended this outcome, I have borne that experience as a natural and even deserved expression of my actions. I was put in the “outside place.” How unlike the Jesus I now know. But that was then.
I have always been an elder’s daughter; in later years it carries little weight for me. I love my father, his intellect and sensibilities. But back then, being my father’s daughter carried a mysterious resistance to inclusion in my peer group, most obvious in the way all the girls were asked out on dates, but never me nor the other elder’s daughter. Was it my hair colour, wardrobe, body shape, struggles with pubescent acne, or was it something deeper, I wondered?
Being an elder’s daughter meant not being in the church it crowd, not being in anywhere. It was difficult. Because what was a good Christian girl to do socially? To be of the world but not in the world meant I was not at liberty to choose outside friends. School day relationships remained that. Our lives revolved around the church. So, the other elder’s daughter (my dear friend to this day) and I tried to find a way to be. We knew some of what went on, some of what was meant to be kept secret from the powers that be. We somehow accepted that if our Dads were a problem, then so were we. But we were lonely at times. Misfits. Outsiders.
Fast forward to last week, and being on retreat with SoulStream for the first intensive of Living From The Heart, and me telling my story of what it was like to choose to marry a Catholic, to choose to proceed with what was considered being unequally yoked, to choose to choose him, rather than remain part of a community of believers to whom I once longed to belong.
I told my story as I have told the story for thirty years, dry eyed, matter of fact, the facts expressed and compassion within only for my husband who had been excluded along with me. Someone asked me why couldn’t I marry a Catholic? I tried to explain. Again I shared how hard it was for my husband. And then strong feelings of anxiety (common to me), began to traverse from my guts up to my chest and my breathing became laboured. I felt as though I was having a heart attack. It felt as though something was constricting my chest. I was afraid. My body began to quiver, and my eyes prickled with tears as I tried to hold myself together. But I could not. I felt myself letting go. Silence in the room and then…
a voice quietly offered “I think we need to take care of this right here” and then someone was on their knees in front of me, and then other voices in the room were speaking words of acceptance and love to me. My tears flowed and my body heaved with the realization of the depth of what was hidden inside me, a key to how I have navigated my life until now…
Belonging…always searching to belong, to be accepted, to be loved, to be liked. Thirty years that can be traced back (perhaps, in part) to a moment when I was made a stranger. Thirty years since a letter was read in front of my church that said Lesley-Anne Clements no longer belongs.
And so I cried out, thirty years later. And I received gentle touch to my body and prayerful words spoken over me, my heart opening to receive healing from this little group of people I had known for only 6 days. They lavished me with the love of the Father, and their love. The same people whom I secretly feared, and felt somewhat removed from, for most of our week together, held me with the genuine kindness of their presence and words.
And then, someone asked permission to pray. I nodded, unable to speak. His prayer was deeply repentant, asking my forgiveness, standing in to take full responsibility for what the Church had done to me. I was shaken. I did not know my heart needed reconciliation. But a generous knowledge of what was required and then given, met my unspoken need.
More tears and hugs and a holy kiss on my forehead. I felt emptied and filled in. I felt like blinders were removed. Now I sensed I could move forward into being more fully me. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Peace and reconciliation lavished on me. Mercy. Grace. Love. Thank you.
There is more to the story, at a heart level, but for now I will hold that as a gift for me alone. And I will continue to see what may be required from here, because it has been suggested there may be further trauma to deal with, there may be more for me around this notion of shame, how my hunger to belong haunts me. It amazes me that such deep hurt can be lived out without any true recognition…until….
Even this week I am beginning to see how the choices I make and the people I care for and the communities I lean into, reflect my hidden wound somehow being transformed into a gift to others. I’m reminded of a verse that says it was meant for evil but God meant it for good. And perhaps it wasn’t intended as evil at the time, but the result of my excommunication was pain, separation, and exclusion of my heart to an outside place, far removed from God’s heart incarnate in those who professed it most strongly back then. You can perhaps see how this could cause confusion in my relationship with God. Yes, there may be more to unpack here.
But thank God that His heart has never left mine. Thank God that He speaks in new and gentle ways to the broken and lost parts of my heart. And I have to believe that He has an holy intention in all of this…it all belongs.
Several years ago I wrote a poem that reflected part of the experience of my last meeting with the elders of the church, a meeting which set the wheels in motion for my excommunication. I remember it clearly. Only now I also feel it with more clarity. I feel anger in my poem. I didn’t know then that there were deeper layers to be coaxed out, loved on, and in God’s time, raised from the grave.
Finding the Outside Place
Two of their kind arrive
at my door, just like with Noah,
only no females. Two elders
in dark suits, carrying
The Book, King James, leather bound.
I invite them in, keep
my appointment with
their Kingdom kind. Hear
the blame and shame
coming. Same as grade
school quiet flush, my hand
goes up to take the fall for
someone’s spilled glue.
How I save the class from
time out. These two cut
me in ways I don’t expect.
And me polite and
would you prefer coffee or tea
with one or two lumps of sugary
excuses for my errant behaviour?
(it hasn’t gone unnoticed
over several years). They sit
like bookends in rose brocade.
I practice active listening,
open faced to inherent
rhetoric. They proclaim
errors of my ways, the dire
consequence of marrying
outside the faith. All this and
the truth shall set you free.
They want to pray. I say
no. Thanks. (Maybe I say
more?) They deliver
last rites. Exit, stage right.
Afterwards I gasp like one
fresh raised from the grave.
A predisposition to dark thoughts and negative thinking
I’m convinced there are two types of people in the world
maybe more, at least two. Those who are care-full
glass barely at the half, wearing the gaze of others like a brand sear
the turning of heads like a slap, words spoken or withheld
a sieve with wide holes, draining.
And those who don’t.
(And if this is not true, please stop telling me
you don’t care what others think, stop saying
the world is tinted pink.) Please.
Because the rest of us, we do try
to begin with positive intent, wide mouths
and hearts open in rooms of strangers, for a fleeting hour
feel we’ve got it, found it, sweet notes lingering on
our tongues. We sing, sway tentatively to a song
we know we’ve heard some place before
then doubt what we did, what we saw, what we heard
wake tormented. Should, could, didn’t do
walk weighted. Long for the lightness
of another world view. The one with the
all things working and all shall be well,
that view, fade to grey.
As if we wouldn’t choose
(our perception of) an easy burden
a way of sloughing off, dancing on, head high.
As if we clench our troubled thoughts in careful fingers
like small candles, barely lit enough
to cast a shadow as we shuffle home.
I am sorry
that your little girl won’t run into her father’s arms
that you won’t meet him at the door, feel his warmth
that he did not come back like he said he would
that it ends like this
the prayers unanswered
the everything before and after defining moment
that will carry you from now on
and the only hope that still remains
some day may it be enough.
Years ago I began to see. At birth, my physical eyes opened. At the age of 40, my spiritual eyelids lifted to reveal new and meaning filled sights. And, another (almost) ten years later, I recognize that the second sight that comes with the spirit focused eyes must be intentional, often requiring of me a tuning up, a dusting off, a wiping of my glasses to ensure that I am seeing as best I can. God has things to reveal to me… even when I forget (see this post) or when I’m distracted or simply focusing on myself way too much.
Ten years ago or so I often saw things as I walked my dog and talked to God along the way. I was reminded of those wonderfully intimate times this morning as I drove to meet a circle of women who are becoming very important in my life and spiritual development. I saw things along the way today… and they revealed a deeper sight that I will share with you. May it bring you peace. God often brings peace in the midst.
I saw… a soldier dressed in his fatigues walking a very happy dog with tail back and forth and tongue lolling and face turned up to his master with an obvious ‘smile’ to share (those of you with dogs know this canine ability to smile). The dog was so full of joy at the walking with the one he loved that I almost didn’t see the obvious, that this pup had three legs, not four. At some point the fourth leg was removed due to an accident or disease and the dog carried on in a way that appeared to be without any real impact on his ability to enjoy the life he’d been given.
and I saw… a man waiting at a traffic light, a man whom I’ve noticed for years now, pocket protector in his short sleeved dress shirt, comb-over hair almost all grey, dress pants, and in one hand his black briefcase… very much the ‘Death of a Salesman‘ image here. And his body, his 60-something body, had conformed to the weight of whatever was in the briefcase, turning in, shoulders dropped forward, arms almost lengthened by the pull of the case. He was heading… somewhere… no smile, no joy, yes purpose, but no outer signs of pleasure. Compared to the dog.
And here’s what I think I’m going to take from these images that linger in my mind, I’m going to take what I saw and own the truth that speaks. How we each have a choice to carry or to leave behind that which is diseased, that which weighs us down, that which we do not have to carry. And with that another choice, to leave the burden behind and embrace the joy of the moment, the gift of what remains rather than what could have been, might have been, and maybe still is. The dog made adjustments to how it walked to enable him to bounce on three feet. The man, burdened for years, his body also made adjustments, but in a way that left an impression of sad emptiness and pursuit of something just beyond his reach. Yes, I’m reading much into this, but I believe there really is something to it… a revelation of truth in the ordinary.
Thought I’d just lay it out there for you. To do with as you wish.
Journeying and watching, sometimes spirit sight,