April 21, 2010
Here I am, the utterly undeserving recipient of abundant love. I don’t say this as a sort of self-deprecation but as someone beloved to a degree that boggles the mind. I am on the receiving end of love that cannot be earned; it’s beyond measure. My cup overflows. Already. I felt it. The love of this Chicago community would be enough to be amazed by. But there is also the love of my family and of the friends who have stood with me for many years. Then there are those that I have never, or at best barely met, my long distance friends who continue to astound me with their affection and fidelity. Today, Laina absolutely astonished me. She has bought me a ticket to Orlando, Fl, roundtrip, April 29-May 4th. She coordinated it all on the sly, working things out with Anne and the fam. Sometimes it feels like too much. I was already feeling that way with all the affirmation, parties, presents and the presence I have been given for confirmation. When discussion arose as to what to do for my birthday I felt overwhelmed. Such an outpouring of love, I don’t know if I am a container adequate to hold it. I will let it spill over and continue flowing.
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Anne took me out for a delicious and embarrassingly expensive dinner and dessert at a sweet little French restaurant in Lincoln Square…One the way out to dinner Anne and I drove past a coffee shop called Julius Meinl. I had gone there once for a sort of interfaith discussion group that I’d found through an online network called “Meet-ups.” That was shortly after I moved here, during the time when I was persistently thrusting myself into situations where I might meet interesting people. I couldn’t figure out how to identify who I was trying to meet that day and wound up leaving without having made any connections, feeling frustrated and dejected, wondering if I would ever figure out how to make friends—how much has changed! Truly, God has been so gracious; granting me the courage to press through awkward situations and the disjointed early stages of relationship, guiding me into this incredible community.
Lying here in bed I was thinking how grateful I am for this day, for this condensed account of the wonderful people I’ve encountered and continued to be in relationship with through various places I’ve lived and stages of my life—Apopka, Winter Park, Mt. Vernon, Berea, Chicago (not to mention Keene and Graz, where I’ve never been!)—and I realized that beyond this day I am grateful for this life and overwhelmed by all the good that it has been filled with, all of the wonderful people and places and experiences. I am glad to be alive. I am glad for today and yesterday. I am glad for tomorrow. It feels good to say that. The feeling of love for life is not one that I’ve always had. One of my few regrets is that I’ve dwelled in so many days that I wished to be removed from, thinking that not being would be preferable to being who I was. I know that I am privileged, embarrassingly privileged. I will not respond to that knowledge with guilt but will give thanks and give back and, God willing, give forward.