Breathe

Sometimes we need to breathe deeply of our own lives in order to slow down and recover. When we breathe, we allow ourselves to stop and restore a healthy pace of life

Permission to Grieve

Posted on 7 Apr 2016 | 0 comments

Well, it seems like grief is going to be my subject of choice for a little while.
I missed February and March, and now, here in April, I’m circling back to the subject.
Nabeel SyedI was listening to a podcast today, by Ben Katt (you can find it here: The RePLACING CHURCH Podcast), on having permission to grieve. Some of what he says is similar to what I’ve been saying for years: that we as a people – Western, individualized, bootstrapping (and particularly Christian) people – have rejected grief as an emotion of weakness and of failure. We’ve turned it into something that “other” people do. It’s seen as something almost shameful, something that we aren’t supposed to do, because being American, being Christian, is all about hope and light and love and being joyful in all circumstances. So, when people die, there’s this unspoken expectation that we’re supposed to get it together. There’s also this bizarre individualism and relationship to nuclear family – if you aren’t a sibling or parent or spouse, your grief isn’t as valid, which is heartbreaking. I can remember a few years back, a dear friend of mine lost her significant other. They weren’t married – yet – but all of us who knew them, knew her, knew their relationship, knew how close they were, how intimate their connection was, how devastating the loss was for her. We all knew that this was every bit as life-shattering as losing a spouse, but because the ceremony hadn’t been performed yet, her grief – as significant as a spouse’s – was discounted. She was at times excluded from those “family-only” moments, even though the family was compassionate.
That moment also taught me something else about grief. That so often when friends die, we have to have freedom to grieve the might-have-beens. I wasn’t particularly close to my friend’s partner. He was an amazing guy, and I liked him. My grief was ALL about who he was to her, and the way that he had changed her life for the better. My grief in losing him was about the lost opportunity, the lost future, the loss of the dream to see her walk down the aisle to him and know that he would take good care of her forever. I’m still grieving that for her.

I find that the grief of the last few years, losing my husband’s mother, my dear Uncle, my beloved friend – it’s no less real for me, even though they weren’t *directly* related to me. No, Karin was not my mom. But I loved her like one. Uncle Bud, not my father, but he treated me as his daughter. Carrie, not my sister, but as integral a part of my life as one. And because of the way our society handles grief, I’m left holding these griefs in a sort of limbo, where there are sharp, poignant moments surrounded by guilt because I’m not *really* supposed to be feeling the grief this sharply. That’s for those “directly” affected. Sadly, it doesn’t account for the grief of  the might-have-beens.

We’ve taken the verse in our text that says, “we don’t grieve as those who have no hope” and turned it into “yeah, sure, we don’t grieve because we have hope.” When the actuality, as Ben talks about in his podcast on Grief, is that as believers, our hope causes us to grieve even harder. We don’t just grieve the loss of a beloved friend, spouse, parent, sibling. We grieve all the might-have-beens. We grieve that the Kingdom didn’t manifest and spare us death. We have to wrap our heads and hearts around the concept that the world is still hurting and death and illness are still robbing us of opportunity. We have to grieve that the abundant life that we have been promised is still an expectation, a longing. This kind of authentic, vulnerable grief is NOT weakness. It is strength. It is powerful. It is significant. And it should be embraced by the community. Rather than expecting people to pull themselves back out of the sadness by their bootstraps, we need to surround them and grieve with them, holding sacred space for them in the midst of their grief. We need to create those safe places where people can be held by one another in their difficulty, in their loss. They need to understand that they are not alone, that we grieve with them. In many ways, the Jewish culture has such a lovely and better approach, with their traditions of sitting shiva and praying together in minyan. There is a togetherness, and a holiness to standing with those in the midst of the grief and giving them permission to be there.

Today, I’m giving myself permission to grieve. I don’t have anything specific in my immediate sphere, but there’s been enough loss in my circles of friends that I will take time today to mourn with those who mourn, to take the love and light, the joy in all circumstances, the hope, and to grieve with my friends for all of their might-have-beens. I will give myself permission to be sad and miss my dear ones that I’ve lost over the last few years, wishing that they could be a part of my daughter’s life, sad that they’re missing out on my life, and I’m missing out on the possibilities of theirs.

Today, I encourage you… Grieve. Whether for your own loss, your own might-have-beens, or with someone else, there is power in the process.

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On grief… the strange, sharp poignancy

Posted on 11 Jan 2016 | 0 comments

11143264_10204514085074165_1633403475304736337_nToday, I would have texted her. I would have told her I loved her. I would have laughed about whatever shenanigans she was up to. And this year, I would have loved to hear about how she’s enjoying being a mommy. How her little girl is growing so quickly, and how she’s figuring out work-life balance – because I know she would have kept her science career alive and vibrant. I would have reminded her that the world was a better place because she was born, and that she not only was destined for great things, but was already living into her greatness.
 
Instead, I’m sitting and crying and remembering that she’s gone from this life, passed on to the next. But I can still remember that I loved her and laugh about the shenanigans that we got up to together. I can follow a little bit through Jake and Erin how that beautiful girl is doing. I can know that the world is a better place because she was born and that she accomplished amazing things in her short time on this earth. I can trust that she is looking down on all of us and praying that we all live into our fullest potential.
 
Gracious, funny, kind, sassy, and an amazing friend. Steadfast and true. We were there for each other in ways that I can’t even imagine how I would have made it without you.
Happy Birthday, Carrie Moore! You are definitely missed today. <3 you, LL. 🙂
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May We Never Lose Our Wonder

Posted on 17 Nov 2015 | 0 comments

Nabeel SyedWorld events in the last few weeks have given me cause to wonder. In both positive and negative ways. I’m naturally a reflective person, so any time events happen, my heart turns to mulling over ideas and trying to understand. It’s been heartbreaking to see the response to attacks of terror, especially from those who label themselves Christ-followers or Christians. The response of fear, hatred, anger and venom have reflected something that is very Anti-Christ. It’s completely against the Good News that we are supposed to carry. So, this morning, I just wanted to take a moment and wonder what would be different if we chose to live in a place of wonder. To wonder and reflect on those things that we need to be challenged by and work on, and to wonder and reflect on those things that are brilliant and stunning and beautiful and filled with love and goodness.

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Samhaim: winter’s approach

Posted on 2 Nov 2015 | 0 comments

Today is November 2, one day after Samhaim. Samhaim is a festival celebrated by the Celts that signifies the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It signals the storing up of a rich harvest and the preparation for a long journey into the encroaching darkness. We’ve dressed it up all funny with Halloween. It’s lost so much of its significance. I’m not a Celt, although my heritage is wrapped up in the Emerald Isle. I’m not a pagan, and so, the celebration of the holiday is a bit different for me. 

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Learning How Life Works… Again

Posted on 12 Jan 2015 | 0 comments

It’s been almost a year since my last post. Not for lack of thoughts or things to say. But it’s been almost a year since I’ve had a moment to myself, to sit and reflect consciously on my life – and the things I care about. In May of 2014, I welcomed a little girl into my world who has challenged, stretched, delighted, and changed me. And she’s also been teaching me – all over again – how life works. The way I used to do things doesn’t work anymore…

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SB1062 Mini Soapbox

Posted on 26 Feb 2014 | 0 comments

1507015_10100739662986609_337452490_n<begin soapbox and mild theological reflection – please feel free to ignore>
I normally try to remain silent on most political issues, but having now read SB1062 from AZ, I’m actually more concerned about the bill and its ramifications. The wording of it is far too vague, leaving numerous openings for the state to *have* to come in to define religious practice. I really don’t want the state to define those practices.

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On grief…and how it doesn’t go away lightly

Posted on 5 Feb 2014 | 0 comments

Waking up at 6am isn’t all bad. After all, most mornings, it’s because this little life in me is hungry or squirmy.

This morning, though, it was raw and a bit rough.

You see, last night I had a really beautiful dream that leaves me with this dull, empty ache inside my heart. In the dream, I had finished a huge accomplishment – whether it was a degree, or the launch of my project, I just don’t know. But at the end of this project, there was a house. Filled with light and love, and food and warmth. It’s the house that I grew up loving to go to, the house where my uncle lived.

It was located on Canyon View Drive in Brentwood, a pricey neighborhood. The driveway was long and a bit jungle-ish. There was a treehouse in that jungle that he helped me build and where he let me hide out when things got scary or hard growing up. I can still remember conversations in that treehouse about character while he taught me how to paint things like walls and mailboxes. Then there was the pool where I remember learning to swim. I can still see him laughing with my parents – back before the divorce – and always compassionate to me. I remember halls filled with laughter at the holidays – Christmas with parties and singing, and Easter with the huge egg hunt filled with candy and cash and amazing gifts. I remember the hidden nooks of that home, the places where it felt real, and robust, and human.

I remember going to dinner at <fancy expensive Beverly Hills restaurant> with <big important people> and spitting out my meatballs into my napkin. And I remember his grace towards me, even then. I remember the dress I wore at his wedding to my new aunt, and the light and the magic of the event. I remember the troubling years when I believed in him, no matter what newspapers said.

When I was at my worst, it always felt like he wanted to pull my best out of me. When I doubted my own ability to see things through, he would always encourage me to believe in myself.

I remember his 70th birthday, as he introduced me to all of his friends and colleagues, and he was *proud* of me. I can remember feeling bewildered, and a bit overwhelmed – because I certainly didn’t think I had done anything to earn it.

But there it was.

Grace. Acceptance. Love. Pride.

There are dozens of articles you can read either about him or by him. And they all tell a story of a driven man. I know that at times he was task-oriented, focused, and absent from his family and friends. But for me, he was always a presence I could count on. When I needed him, I could always count on him.

He guided my academic decisions and mentored my process – albeit in an emotional fashion rather than an academic one. And during my first year at Westmont, when the loneliness seemed more than I could bear, he sat with me week after week, continuing to stimulate my mind and encourage me to see the world from a larger point of view. He is the reason I eventually decided to move to Ireland – although he’ll never know that. It was a decision over 5 years in the making. He is the reason I now have 2 Masters degrees. He is the reason that I know that my vision will eventually get launched – because he believed that I was born to make a difference, to change the world.

I loved him in a simple, uncomplicated, unambiguous way.

And he’s gone.

And I never got to tell him any of this.

So when I woke up this morning, from a dream all filled with light and love to the stark and sad reality that he’s gone…

Bud

Something inside of me broke a little all over again.

This amazing little life inside of me that wiggles and makes me hungry at all hours… she’ll never get to know this incredible man. But every second of her life is already possible because a piece of him lives in my heart and soul.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Bud (Albert D. Wheelon: 1929-2013)

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