August already. This year has dashed by. I believe that yesterday was my Healing Rain anniversary. Lately I’ve been so caught up in my quandary over Palestine, I’ve spent little to no time in reflection—I’ve certainly continued to neglect prayer and meditation, despite the fact that now is the time I need it most….
…Pop believes that God has certain things in store for certain people. He believes that I’m a special person for whom a special path is planned. I am struggling so much in my faith. After talking with Pop and hearing myself say how much I enjoyed my work…I began to think maybe Adam was right about Palestine. Maybe it was just a crazy whim I was embarking on to feel meaningful and to have an adventure.
…Yesterday, at work, I had a good day but it had somehow lost its luster. I wonder if part of what makes places appealing to me is the knowledge that I’ll soon be leaving them…
Oh negative thinking, what a trap you are!...
Pleasing my parents is very important to me. Hm. I do make decisions based on this. There is good reason for this in that, they have given me so much, I want to honor them and to add to their happiness. At times, when this feels restrictive, I feel like rebelling against it. Ironically, what I am rebelling against is only my interpretation, my assumption of what it is that they would want me to do. I never ask, “What do you want me to do?” and yet I continually strive to work towards it or, at times, to rebel against it. More than likely what they want me to do, is to find what I want, and to do it. I wonder if God works in a similar way…
Yesterday played out beautifully…
M. and I went to Wal-mart to buy ingredients for “chocolate gravy” which J and I made back at the house. R from Jackson House came over and we ate biscuits and chocolate gravy, listened to J & R tell stories, surfed craigslist and the white pages online and played pick-up sticks. I am so grateful for the fellowship…
The past several days have been magnificent. Fall, though distant, has already begun to woo us with mild days and cool, clear evenings…
…I’m feeling fairly certain that I won’t be leaving here until spring. E. sent me a message on facebook saying she too is considering a spring journey to the Middle East. Grad school has also been on my mind a lot lately and I am excited at the prospect of studying theology in Chicago.
Life, like love, is something that can be stepped toward; not just fallen into.
This morning I almost skipped out on a date with H & C…a hike up the pinnacles to watch the sun rise. Lately, I’ve not been feeling well, whether because of physical or mental illness, I don’t know…When my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., I didn’t get up. When H. called me a few minutes later, I didn’t get up. At her second call I roused myself and answered, agreeing that…I would meet them at the top.
I thought I might die, or at least pass out, as I struggled up the hill. The headache, cramping and cold chills that led me to decide to cancel dinner plans the day before returned. Every bench I passed called out to me, especially after I realized I’d gone the wrong way and begun heading toward the west peak.
I finally made it, the day not fully broken, golden blades piercing and scattering clusters of clouds and casting a glow through the mist that hung about the peaks and filled the valleys. It was good to be with H and C. I felt more like a person that I do much of the time…
A was driving off in her sliver van as I walked back in the house. I turned and saw Sheila’s head, ears perked up, in the backseat. A wave of loss and uncertainty swept over me. Standing in my living room I became aware I was holding something wrapped around my hand, looked down and saw that it was Sheila’s leash.
I called A immediately,
“We’re not far,” she said, “we’ll turn around.”
I went out toe meet the van,
“Sorry,” I said, handing her the leash.
“Have a nice drive.”
“You too—well, you’re not driving—have a nice day.”
“You too.” I patted the side of the van.
In the house again and they drive away. This will be strange.
Last night [in meditation] I chose the phrase, “help my unbelief,” which is as much as prayer as a focus, but does tend to offer direction to my thoughts…I fell asleep and at some point, in the night or morning, became tangled in a dream…
The short of it is that I was being expected to present a homily at mass, or some type of service that was “high church.” I felt utterly unprepared and inappropriate for the task which was fast approaching. At some point I would, from outside myself, remember, “I went to sleep on Friday, it’s only Saturday. I have time to get out of this or at least to be more ready.”
This would bring some relief, but the moment it did the scene would shift—sometimes with the same plot and characters, sometimes different—and the cycle would invariably repeat itself. Whatever may change there was always the theme that something important (important because it was spiritual and sacred) needed doing or was being done and the person responsible was defiling the act by either being unequipped or behaving immorally.
Just before Amblyn woke me (amazed that I was still lying unconscious in bed at ten to eleven) I was at a table, surrounded by church elders, trying to get around what was being asked of me. Someone said something, whether I or another, to which the woman in charge responded, “One thing we will not debate here is whether or not we believe in Jesus…”
I was very full of the dream as I drove Amblyn to the airport and had to exert some effort to distance myself from the discomfiting but beguiling recollection of it…when I got home…I walked for an hour, listening to my iPod. The last song I heard, one I haven’t the name for, was Alison Krauss singing about Jesus and hard living. It had a line that plead, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.”
…I walked the college trails after work Sunday and chose to meditate outside at a secluded picnic table. I was feeling a little unstable and for a while, with every exhale, I would think “lean,” reflecting on Pastor Andy’s sermon.
Today, I hiked the pinnacles, making an effort toe “practice presence,” and focus on the beauty around me rather than making plans for the future. I took the phrase “Here I am,” for my anchor as I set on the eastern peak and surveyed the lower hills and valleys. Near the entrance were some maple trees that looked ablaze, their leaves a mix of red and orange. Several trees have begun to change color already and August has not yet ended.
I let myself walk slowly and felt the energy of the forest. The physical discomfort I’d experienced initially dissipated as I stopped thinking of the hike as exercise. I stopped at a clearing overcome by wildflowers that were almost as tall as I, with blossoms of purple and yellow. I stopped at a vantage point where I could see the waves of flowers with their multi-color crests, as well as the round, layered hilltops in the distance and was amazed at the beauty one can miss when focused only on reaching the top. Though, if I’d stopped there and not continued toward my destination, I’d not have appreciated it for what it was; a chapter, not the story.
…I was sad when I realized that Monday was a holiday; giving me three days off of work and no one to spend them with, and nothing in particular that needs doing. Then I remembered that the present is a thing to be appreciated and life, and the lives of those around me are marvelous gifts to be appreciated and what I will be is up to me.
Self Esteem class is actually quite helpful…Two of the great revelations that may seem obvious to others and that can be expressed in simple syllables are, “I am who I want to be,” (which can have multiple shades of meaning when considering the function of the word “want”) and perhaps most significant, “my relationships with others are not based on their thoughts about me.” How many times I’ve seen the antithesis of this statement guide my reactions to and interactions with others—worrying so much what they thought of me and giving very little consideration to understanding who they actually were.
So much of my life has been lived in response to the belief that I must live in accordance with expectations; that my thoughts, feelings and behaviors must always be in line; and that if anything went wrong I was responsible…A renewed self-awareness enables me to choose a path of recovery. However, just as with any addictive behavior to which one conforms, there is no immediate cure, only the upward spiral…
“I was asleep,” Sufjan Stevens is singing, “and he woke me up again…Hallelujah.”