I don't think it's news that the last couple of months have been tough ones. I've graduated from seminary and I'm home to stay and . . . Josh is still gone.
But some days, God's grace has a way of piling up in a heap. Today, for instance.
First, my lovely friend Karen posted about "pushing forward." I've written before about my awe in the face of Karen's and her husband's move from Hawaii to Virginia after their son's death, a move that has enabled them to live close to daughters and grandchildren, but must have nevertheless taken the strength of Hercules to accomplish. Then I remember that the other Karen (in this blog, they have to take turns being "the other Karen") has become engaged in the battle against childhood cancer, and that I went back to school, and that other mothers have picked up and gone on, and I wonder, How ??????? There are still plenty of days when I open my eyes in the morning and say, "No. I can't." But "push forward" we do. And I am so grateful for Karen's honest articulation of both the pain and the determination, the sadness and the hope.
Then, Saturday having been St. Ignatius' Feast Day, another blogger wrote about the world in which Ignatius lived, which I also said a little about on Saturday. (Protestants and Catholics alike might enjoy his glimpse into that era.) And what, he says, did Ignatius sense God telling him, in the face of a religious and secular context fraught with conflict? "Do something new." It was a good message for me to read this morning, as I look back at a birthday and ahead to (another) ordination exam, back to my life with three children and ahead to a life in ministry into which I have to incorporate the horrific loss of one of them. "Try something new." I don't think my new something will be anything huge or dramatic, but I am hopeful that the honest gaze into the reality of God laboring in all things, including the loss of children and the grief of their mothers, will be put to use in some way.
And then, today's mail came, and with it a birthday card from Michelle, who has just been to the Art Institute in Philadelphia where she had the opportunity to spend some time with my very favorite painting. When I finish here, I am going to start looking for a frame.
And then, for some reason, I stepped out onto the front porch an hour or two later and discovered two packages, one of them containing a piece of glass restored by another blogging friend, who probably wants to remain nameless. This small hanging was the last material Christmas gift my son Josh gave me, in 2006. (In 2007, he gave us a contribution to Heifer Project for a water buffalo, an animal he said is of great importance in Vietnam, where his girlfriend's mother is from. We got a tiny carved water buffalo as a symbol of the real thing.) The glass was accidentally broken some time ago, and it has now been most beautifully restored and is hanging in the living room.
Blogging has produced quite an astonishing web of connections. I believe that what has coalesced in my life in just these last few hours is a melding of Hawaii, Virginia, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and Evangelical Christian, Catholic, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian. I generally feel that I am being pushed in all directions and pulled apart pretty much simultaneously, but today I am experiencing a warm and generous melding of friendships.
Thank you, all of you.