Sunday, January 15, 2017

And Did You Get What You Wanted From This Life Even So?

This post is a little different from the others, in that I'm not sure what the point is going to be.  But, I am pretty confident I will know at the end of reflecting with you, here.

This week I started the fourth and final unit of my Clinical Pastoral Education program.  A requirement for becoming a certified chaplain.  This only matters because that's where the question was posed.  The question that has me sifting through past memories and photographs.

After a brief description of the six types of loss (not to be confused with the stages of grief), my classmates and I were challenged to make an elementary timeline of our biggest losses, what type of losses they were, and how old we were when they occurred.  That step was fairly easy.  Mine looked like this:

Pretty self-explanatory except where "systemic" is crossed out in a couple of places.  I was unsure if it applied.  It did.

This exercise was the last one of the day.  We went round-table, shared, and went home.  That seemed fine.  Until I got home.  I pulled in the driveway and didn't even have the emotional energy to get out of the car.  I texted a friend from my class and we met for coffee, which helped a lot.  But, afterward, I still felt like I had entered a time traveling machine, and for whatever reason, like I needed to stay in the past, ask questions and get answers.  Only the person I need to ask is me.  And I'm 39-years-old.

In trying to examine the past from a great distance, all squinting, telescopes, and magnifying glasses fall short. I'm just not really sure about a lot of it.  Do my feelings now accurately reflect my feelings then?  Do memories mirror actual events or are they products of creative writing without the inconvenience of writer's cramp?  Was my most self-sacrificing moment really my most self-sacrificing moment? Does it matter?

Looking through old photos for clues, there were poignant surprises in both directions.  Happiness where I remembered sadness and sadness where I remembered joy.

In the end, as I heard someone say recently, life is full of "mixed blessings".  If you could only use two words to sum up life, these two should be in the running.  Shade tree or not, this seems like a good bench to rest on, along the rocky road of what ifs and did I really's and why didn't I's.

In the world of mixed blessings and pleasant surprises, Traveling Mercies - Some Thoughts on Faith, has been a great one!  I thought it was going to be cutesy and maybe quotable at best, but it is raw and very honest, instead.  I always prefer the latter.

I'm only a third of the way in, but life looms large.  Faith is a minor character in the distant hills, but there just the same.  This morning, with all of this other stuff swirling around in my head, Anne Lamott starts Part Two with a poem by Raymond Carver entitled Late Fragment:

And did you get what you wanted from this life even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Yes.  This.  This is what matters.  Being beloved.

In looking at pictures from throughout my life, I'm surprised at how many pictures exist of people and things I've loved at different times.

For example, I've devoted years of my life to horses - riding them, caring for them, and caring for people who rode them.  But, I haven't ridden a horse in nine years. The pile of pictures of the girl on as many horses in as many places look like me, but they don't feel like me.  In a way, I would like to be her again.  Fearless and free.

But, the reality is, I traded fearless and free for beloved.  Horses for a husband and boys who make my home feel like a barn without the hay.  And I would do it again.  

I guess those are life's victories.  Those things that you would do again.  And again.  And again.

Losses can be grieved, weighed, examined, and considered.  Life can be reflected upon, and it probably is worthwhile to do so, as long as you return to where you are.  Here.  Now.

The river of life has never left me in an eddy or changed directions.  It has gently and steadily moved me downstream, as it will continue to do.  Always with something bittersweet from the past, something to be enjoyed in the moment, and something to look forward to.  And none of it, alone.

My front door keeps slamming.  Shirtless boys are shouting - running in and out, playing in the rain.  A pork tenderloin is roasting in the oven, Andy Griffith is on TV, and I am beloved.

No comments:

Post a Comment