"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

15 April 2012

My Place in the Family of Things

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things

 - Mary Oliver

*Warning: I'm writing this while feeling a bit raw (I did wait until I had talked it through with Nich and processed it, so it's not highly emotional or anything, but I thought I should warn anyone who is going to take the time to read).

I am in the middle of reading Kelle Hampton's bloom: finding beauty in the unexpected. Stories like this make me grateful for my little family, but they also leave me with a sense that I have a huge, gaping hole in my life where "community" is supposed to be.

Much of Kelle's story involves the healing that comes from being a part of a "village," a community of friends and family that surround you with love, sacrificial and abundant ... for the long haul.

Nich and I got to go on an unexpected dinner date on Friday night, because our small group was cancelled (but we already had a babysitter lined up). It was the first time we got to really talk in a long time. Where we asked probing questions of one another. And one of the things Nich mentioned to me was that I didn't seem as confident anymore as I used to be.

It occurred to me tonight, as I felt myself "losing it" while doing dishes after Little B went to bed, that never before in my life have I felt so ... not liked. Not so much that people outright don't like me, but that there aren't that many people here who truly know, love, and accept me. Before graduate school, I always had a solid group of close friends wherever I lived. I know I've talked before about how lonely we have been here, but there are days like today where it really feels like a punch to the gut how different it really is. I found myself wondering if we would even have a local village if we were to go through something like what the Hamptons faced, and the sad reality is that we don't.

I left church today feeling empty. We exchanged greetings and shared conversation with a lot of people, but what I crave is true caring. Some reassurance that if we dropped off the face of the earth for a week, that someone would notice. It's hard to be a part of this big church and feel like we aren't loved well.

This is all compounded by the lack of connection we have with our families and the empty promises that are made repeatedly, the false hope that all too often leaves us feeling incredibly disappointed.

Thankfully, we do have an extended village of friends globally, and I cling to that. We have friends who do care deeply; they're just not here, for the most part. I'm immensely grateful for those friends, more than they probably know. But sometimes, my insides hurt for that love and care to be HERE.

This is a rough night for me, but ... The temperatures are rising, we're getting to go on bike rides nearly every weekend, and through it all, I serve a God who sees the Bigger Picture. Even if I don't belong here (and five years later, it looks like I never will), I belong with my family and I belong with Him. In the scope of eternity, this is minor, and I'm holding on to that truth tonight.

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