I've realized this week that I've been spending very little time in the present.
The seminary venture quite naturally oriented me toward the future. The hope of ordained ministry lay before me, and in the interim there were endless tests, exams, interviews, and evaluations to work toward. (Believe me, there's a reason most people don't embark upon such a path once youth is over!)
Josh's death marked a re-orientation to the past. Although it required me to do all kinds of things I'd never done before and hope never to do again, all of those tasks were accomplished in the shadow of a past once filled with delight and abruptly demolished.
Having been certified to receive a call and living at home full-time again has created a sense of life lurching back and forth between past and present with rather remarkable speed. Every time I've been invited to preach at a church in transition, I've been filled with hope ~ but they are all in stages of transition far too early for that hope to be realized in any of them, at least for now. And at home I am surrounded by STUFF, all of which needs to be sorted into some form either usable or discardable. Future and past - both treacherous places.
This past week, having received the world's speediest rejection ever from a church based on paperwork alone ~ paperwork which I had thought indicated a huge potential for connection between their dreams and mine, but of which they apparently took a quite different view ~ I realized: I have to stop this. I can't keep fantasizing about maybes. I can't keep postponing household organization in the dual hope that some of the books could be transferred to a church study and that there will be some extra money to redecorate some of our dilapidated space. I can't keep avoiding the boxes and folders filled with memories.
This is my present and I have to live it. Parts of it are absolutely the fulfillment of hopes nurtured even in the face of disaster: I get to teach a religious studies class to college students and I get to do an ever-increasing amount of spiritual direction. Parts of it are frustrating: preparing sermons for communities I don't know and earning almost nothing for a great deal of work. And you know what? Parts of it are luxurious: I have ample time for the things I'm doing, and after the occasional bad night, I can simply sleep in.
So: The present. I'm going to live as if this is it, because ~ it is. I'm going to get the STUFF taken care of and do what I can about the house. I'm going to enjoy the work I have and the freedom I have. I have an opportunity to develop a retreat for grieving parents, and some people who could make a difference have offered their help with another major project ~ all good, I think.
So. Wherever you go, there you are. Here I am. In the present.
(Image: Light and Dark, Wernersville Jesuit Retreat Center. October 2010.)