Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Turn and Face the Change

I have had a heavy heart lately, a few days now, and this accounts in part for my silence here. Things are rumbling about. And I'm trying to pay attention.

While I was in the discernment process of going to seminary (now seven years ago!), I had a couple very distinct images that seemed to capture the experience for me. I felt profoundly aware of the unknown during that time. I knew I could sense God's movement in my life. And I knew that things were going to change in ways I couldn't even come close to imagining.

The first image I had at the time was of walking on a very dark night with a flashlight. The paltry beam of light was all the illumination for my path that I had. It was just enough to see the next step, but nothing more. Each step, then, was one of faith--the long-term perspective was not available to me.

The second image I had was more vast than the path and the flashlight. This time the image stretched out before me, disappearing into the universe itself. Here I became aware of the world as a sweeping tapestry being woven by God at a spectacular, breakneck speed. And while I was in the midst of life changing, about to go in a new direction, I felt as if I would be brought up to the very edge of that tapestry for the briefest of moments. And at the edge, I would glimpse the unfinished edges, the great Unfinished Unknown that lay beyond it. Then, just as quickly, I would see the tapestry speed on beyond me so that it was all I could see. I always had a sense that if I could rise up far enough, I would be able to discern the beauty of that tapestry. But it was not for me to see. I was a part of it. Not above it.

Since then, when I feel life changing again, I am brought back to these images. Most of my life is spent in the daylight. I have a sense of the path, I know I'm on it. Or I'm comfortably in the middle of the tapestry, convinced it's complete and I'm merely a part of it.

But these past few days, I know I'm in the night again. I'm being brought to the edge of the Unfinished Unknown and feel that swooning sense of pure need for God's presence.

I led worship on Sunday and felt the aching difference between being called by a congregation and being hired by a congregation. (I am hired.)

I await news, now long delayed, but promised again this week, about our financial future.

I move ever closer to the end of my PhD program with no promise that there will be a teaching position available for me once I get there.

And about the only certainty I do have right now is that I know we have to move sometime in the next two months. So that where I'm sitting now will no longer be home. Somewhere else will be.

I've been participating in the new blog ::Travelers Together:: and reading the Bible in 90 Days. I've just made my way into Numbers, (which believe it or not is one of my favorite books). This time as I've been reading these beginning books of the Bible, I have been noticing for the first time how very much these books are about *beginnings.* The beginning of the cosmos, the beginning of humanity, the beginning of the family of Hebrews, the beginning of the community, the beginning of a nation-state. The edge of the tapestry, in these books, is close on either side. We are close enough to the beginning of all things that we can see the Unfinished Unknown at all the edges. Now there is formlessness, now there is adamah formed from clay. Now there are strangers all around us, now there is Hagar spying a well. Now there are sea waters forming walls on either side, now there is a mountain trembling the refugees into being a covenant people.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. I'm less than three years away from 40 years old. I've been actively preparing to be of some service to the church for the past seven years. I'm tired of preparing. I'm tired of the flashlight view of my future. It is not life-sustainable to gaze continuously into the Unfinished Unknown. I'm impatient for my call--whether to a church or teaching position. I want a home that, on the day I move in, I believe I will live in for more than two years.

My midwife warned me once that things always intensify at the end of a phase, just before you move into another. So here I am.


srf said...

Your beautiful, truth-telling, anguished writing made me think of a song by the Indigo Girls. Not as profound as what you've written, but maybe the words will be good company in this intense time.

All That We Let In
-Emily Saliers

dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
heartsick we nurse along the way we picked up
you many not see it when it's sticking to your skin
but we're better off for all that we let in

we've lost friends and loved ones much too young
with so much promise and work left undone
when all that guards us is a single center line
and the brutal crossing over when it's time

I don't know where it all begins
I don't know where it all will end
we're better off for all that we let in

one day those toughies will be withered up and bent
the father son, the holy warriors and the president
with glory days of put up dukes for all the world to see
beaten into submission in the name of the free

we're in an evoluntion I have heard it said
everyon's so busy now, but do we move ahead
planets hurling, atoms splitting
and a sweater for your love you sit their knitting

I don't know where it all begins
I don't know where it all will end
we're better off for all that we let in

You see those crosses on the side of the road
or tied with ribbons in the median
they make me grateful I can go this mile
lay me down at night and wake me up again

kat writes a poem and she sticks it on my truck
we don't believe in war and we don't believe in luck
the birds were calling to her, what were they saying
as the gate blew open and the tops of the trees were swaying

I pass the cemetary, walk my do down there
I read the names in stone and say a silent prayer
when I get home you're cooking supper on the stove
and the greatest gift of life is to know love

I don't know where it all begins
I don't know where it all will end
we're better off for all that we let in

cyen said...

Hang in there :)
It's times like these when I wonder why Life throws things at us in a whole handful of situations.
Your friends, family, and the Big Guy himself are on your side and will help you all get through this. I think part of the anxiety is due to the several unknowns that you are faced with. Is there anyway to write down some of these unknows in an attempt to solve them?
I'll remind you too of your quote about "the small things" pick a small item that maybe you can look to rather than the whole tapestry...

SingingOwl said...

Oh, could I relate to this! I had a similar "visual" once, except that it was not a flashlight, it was a path with lampposts. And I could only see to the next post...and then one more and one more. Never the whole thing.

I think that is still true for me. A little better but not all that much. Sigh.

I loved the tapestry image I got as I read. Wow!

I'll be praying for you these next few months.

see-through faith said...

beginnings (grin) mean letting go of the old (sigh)

be blessed in this latest transition :)

You are such an inspiration and a blessing.

JWD said...

Thank you, all, for your loving and en-couraging comments. I do take heart and treasure friendships, old and new, local and cyber.

Thank you for the gifts you've left here: songs, images, and reminders. Strength for the journey.

Sally said...

Praying for you, that the flashlight will find new strength, and you will see the glorious picture...

Sophia said...

I loved this - my entire discernment process has been like this.

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Kushner once said that he felt that when Moses asked to see God's face and was told he could only see God's back that it meant that you could see God working in events much better after time passes. This really resonated with me as I feel that I can see how God has worked in my life over the years much better than I can see my future. It has taught me that God is working even when I can't see it and to just trust that. I continue to keep you in my prayers.