Friday, February 25, 2011


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.)


  1. I'm struggling with post-graduation living in the present, too. I hear you.

  2. I remember telling my spiritual director it felt like limbo...not knowing when/where/if a call would come...and yet trying to be present to each day.

    Having the teaching gig and doing more and more spiritual direction may just be that life-giving place for you as you continue the call process.

  3. That is a great sermon, right there, my friend. Sending love and solidarity to you.

  4. I remember job searches where we would be planning out living in a place before I even had an interview, must be some kind of human nature thing. as for living in the past a week of working with orange and black glass and listening to Springsteen LP's has me sitting in the passenger seat of a car in 1978.

  5. You are definitely a time traveler. The present might be a good resting place for a while. Even cleaning out stuff can cleanse the soul. Think of it as a spa and a big loofah scrub of old skin cells. Nice try,right!

  6. Yesterday, as I was out talking my almost daily walk, finding all kinds of things to take pictures of, I gave thanks again for your recommendation that I take a camera with me on the retreat I made last summer. I come from a family of photographers but I had never engaged photography before. It keeps me in the present in a way I have never experienced before. The present is a very good place to be. I hope you have a good day today...

  7. Amen, Robin. A message I need to hear again and again.

  8. Sometimes our re-invented selves get lost on the way to where we thought they were going. And I'm going to say that, with five decades and more under our belts, we're a little less able to gracefully "go with the flow." That's where I am, anyway...