I had to take my dad to the doctor this morning. There was more planned for the day but I just could not do it. I cleared the figurative ‘decks,’ because the events and news of this week had left me spinning. On Monday, my boss, the Rector at Ascension, told me he has been called to a new parish that’s all kinds of wonderful; his last Sunday is June 18. It took the rest of the week for the news to actually be shared publicly and until that happened, I had to act like nothing had changed.
Last night we celebrated our patronal feast, Ascension Day. We are part of a group of churches that participate in a magnificent respite program for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Recently, the people who are served through this program, and the volunteers whom they love, have formed a choir called Side-by-Side. The Side-by-Side Singers performed for us last night and asked the congregation to sing along. Their music selection was so sweet—songs like “The sun will come out tomorrow”—and it was almost excruciatingly ironic for a handful of us, who knew that today’s mail would bring the official announcement of Andy’s new call. Then, when it was time for the feast that so many people helped prepare, I stood and talked to a couple of people who are ever so dear to me, holding my dinner plate in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. I made some jerky, awkward movement so I poured water and half my dinner on myself. It was time to come home, though only to my sweet animals, because Sherod’s on a trip.
I was tired and fell asleep early, but today I woke up simply overwhelmed. When I got home from taking my daddy to the doctor, I crawled into the most comfortable chair in the house and spent a good part of the day simply staring out at the garden. I kept telling myself to get up and do something but I could not think of what that might be. Sometimes we must simply sit with grief and turmoil and fear; when I finally quit criticizing my inertia, something changed; slowly the fear ebbed out, the anxious little parts of me quieted. The notion that we must carry all work, all ministry, lightly, surrendering fear, so we can open spaces for new possibilities, is one I relearn over, and over, and over again. Today was one of those days.
Last night we sang, “the sun will come out tomorrow” and the scared, petulant child in me snapped silently, “no it won’t, because my world is upside down and the things I was counting on aren’t going to happen!” Well, the thing about sitting in our living room, looking out at the garden was, I had acknowledge that, yup, the sun had, in fact, come out. That the day was beautiful, that as the afternoon sun became less harsh, I could go out and pick some squash for my dinner, and figure out that in a few days, our sunflower patch is going to be pretty spectacular. I could turn and look at our rambling house already filled with so many stories and echoes of laughter. I could start thinking about a ministry project I had put to one side that might yet come to fruition. I had the time and energy to briefly touch base with someone whose wisdom and companionship a few years ago continues to light the way for me, even in the midst of the turbulence of the week, and who now walks with his beloved through far more difficult and dark valleys. Today I had so much time for prayer, even if some of that prayer was chaotic and childish.
Tomorrow I have a list of all kinds of garden projects. The sun comes up early these days and lingers in such beautiful twilight, filled with lightning bugs. This is “my one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver).