Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gifts


I had an absolutely amazing experience at the peace pole yesterday. I tried to write it down afterward, but I may as well have been struck mute. I functioned perfectly well during dinner, but when I got back to my room last night, I couldn’t even hold a simple phone conversation. I woke from a dream in the middle of the night, and I’m thinking about all of this, now.

I’m walking a lot, this week, on purpose, and I’m making a point of going to my holy places often. I went for a walk before dinner, because I’d just taken a nap and needed to clear the cobwebs out of my head. I started from the creek trailhead; I love the creekbed, and though the trees are completely different, it feels like walking in the woods at home. (This is a kind of home, but I mean where my roots are.) The creek is still dry, but you can feel the groundwater coming up and cooling the earth. The air was cool; it felt wonderful.

I came up out of the shade and onto the hill, and as I climbed higher, a strange thing happened. It wasn’t like walking in the sun on a hot summer day; the temperature was only in the 70s. In some places, the heat stopped me in my tracks. I could feel, and smell, the warm, living, breathing Earth. I felt sort of sweaty, but that wasn’t coming from me—I think it was the moisture in the ground, evaporating. (It hasn’t rained since Friday, but the ground is damp.) I kept having to stop, and breathe it in.

I kept walking, and had strange thoughts of climbing Mt. Sinai. I mostly sort of ignored them; I was also mindful of having to do this and get back, to host dinner. I didn’t have a ton of time.

I got to the peace pole, and I did what I’ve been doing: let the peace descend on me, and find the prayers I left last summer. I had tied them next to each other, about a week apart. One was thanksgiving for love, family, community; the other was for Rob’s soul. I realized, “I knew then, what I’ve been fighting to recover now. I was swimming in that sort of confidence.” [When I say "family," I nearly always mean close friends, adopted as such.] I also found a prayer that family-friends had shown me, that a friend of theirs had left for them. I don’t remember the words; it was basically for happiness and health. It struck me as incredibly loving.

I stood there feeling this, and thinking about all of it, and about all I know to be true of these friends. It came to me, as it came out of me: “Teach me to love like that: freely, openly, joyfully. Teach me not to grasp.”

Click.

I’d been wrestling for just that, for… is it a month, now? I hadn’t had the words to ask for it. And in the asking, I was ready to receive. I know it’s not going to be the same kind of struggle. From here, it’s just practice. I don’t think I’ll have to prove myself to the people I’m thinking of; they’re more tolerant of me than I am. I will need to practice it—both because I need to know I know it, and because circumstances will make me. And that is—completely—okay. Good, even.

I walked with this all the way back down the hill, and I felt God physically with me. It was one of those times when God says, “You got this, and I’ve got you.” It felt like hands on me. If I falter—and I’m human, I will—I know what to remember. That’s the piece I still can’t put into words, but I remember what it felt like, and the words it gave me, and and what I know, and knew.

My best friend let me grab onto her for as long as I needed to. I don’t need to, anymore—but it took two years before I stopped falling to pieces in the middle of the night. These friends don’t let me do that, and it’s appropriate that they don’t; both for them and for me. They’re still patient with me, more than I am with myself. I’m going to be loosed on the world again, really soon. I need my community’s support—and I need to find my own strength. I need to learn to trust that I have enough love to survive, and trust myself, and trust God. I’m beginning to get there.

I got down the hill with ten minutes to spare. I was standing there, just-post-epiphany and not sure what to do with myself, when one of the guests walked up to me and asked when dinner was. I told him, and he got talking. I didn’t say a word about where I’d been or what I’d just come from. I don’t know why he did it, but he told me his story. He asked me not to repeat it, so I certainly won’t here. It was his own tale of resurrection, and truly a gift.

The dream I woke from, two hours ago, was about Confession. Not in the sense I experienced when I needed it so badly; this was about confession in community, but it was a community I barely knew. The difference was the text: it was longer than what we have, and all I clearly remember is the beginning: something alluding to Jeremiah (not sure why) and the words, “You see us.” The sense was, you love us, and you know we fall short. There was an absolution, but it was also implied in the confession itself.

I woke feeling curiously comforted. And—obviously—I had words, again.

What’s striking me about all of this, is how gentle God is. I wrestle with myself so damn hard. Sometimes it works; usually it doesn’t. God has shown me my task—and it is a task, not an impossible mountain—through a deeper realization of what love is, and then immediately a chance to give it to someone I barely know, by listening to him. Then, this completely sensible, non-surreal dream, saying, “Yes, I see you; yes, I love you.”

This is why I’m wide awake, at 2:41 in the morning. Alleluia.

POSTSCRIPT, one day later:
There was a page number referenced in the dream I had, 491. I knew it was nowhere near where the Confession was supposed to be, and I'd been meaning to look it up. I just did.

BCP 491 is the beginning of Burial of the Dead, Rite II.

There is no way I would have known this, anywhere in my subconscious. I've never needed to use that rite.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that God's playing Tarot cards with me. But, there is no deeper change, than death.

I think it's clear, what I'm burying.

6 comments:

Mother Laura said...

Alleluia, indeed! I rejoice with you and am grateful for your sharing.

Kirstin said...

Thank you--and thank you so much, for being so present. :-)

eileen said...

((((((K)))))))

I'm so glad. It's wonderful how God is so able to leave us what we need just when we are ready to receive it. Not a moment before or after.

lj said...

What a beautiful story, K. Your experiences -- the words, the feelings, the dream -- are powerful and grace-filled. Hang on to those experiences. They will carry you through much.

Apostle In Exile said...

I think I've run out of "wow's". All I can say this time, is "Amen!"

Kirstin said...

Thank you, all! It really is like being in a different body--that is mine--for the first time.