Seriously? It's been a month since I last posted? But I had notes in my journal and everything! I had a lineup of things I wanted to tell you! I was going to get to it! Really, I swear.
All protestations aside, I really am surprised that it has been so long.
Still, it feels like it has been a big month. To start with, we had four weddings to attend in May, two of which required travel, one I was in, and a fourth that I could attend blissfully without responsibility. It was such a sense of almost levitation getting ready for Amy and Chris's wedding because there would only be 6 people that I knew there and all were from church, so I didn't need to have any sort of agenda with my outfit (you know, boobs out for ex-boyfriends, professional for events where some attendee, somewhere might hire me). So, I could just try on dresses for Jacob and let him pick the one he liked best rather than asking his opinion and then telling him why it wasn't the right opinion. Here we are, dancing. I particularly love the dress he chose because I paid $3 for it at the thrift store and it looks classic, even though I know (with my freakish mind for costume analysis) that it is straight out of the early 90s. Seriously, can't you see Andie McDowell with this neckline? Or Elaine from Seinfeld? That photo was taken by the wedding photographer, Gavin Gould. There are more pictures on my Jake and Jess's blog.
Speaking of Jake and Jess, they have asked me to be their birth plan advocate. I went to tour their Alternative Birthing Center with them last week and when we were standing in the room in which they will become parents, I started to cry a little at the profundity of it all.
They want me to be there with them. While they become parents. I will be part of that intimate moment, even if I'm sitting in the corner knitting a hat as it happens. I was the girl that couldn't find friends to go to the Fun Fair with me in elementary school. I was the girl who knew the shapes of the headlights of the people in her youth group because I stared out into the dark wondering if they were going to stop by and see if I could join them while they cruised (life before cell phones = perpetual waiting). I was the girl who almost transferred out of college my first semester because I had missed the window to pair up with my new BFF and it seemed like none of the established groups were looking for new members. Now, I'm the girl that this family wants to be in the room to witness the new life of their child. When my brother's baby was born, he said, "Hold her now, she'll never be this new again." To get to do that again? For dear friends? It's too much of a blessing. I can't handle it when I think too deeply on it.
So, what else? Except for a short fall off the wagon on Saturday, I have felt very calm and with a stable sense of well-being that is so far from my cookie debacle awhile back. I just haven't felt the need to shout. I consider that only a little bit less than miraculous. As Katherine said in a comment to that last post, I have been less hard on myself. My therapist and I believe in a spirituality of imperfection, which teaches that we will not fix ourselves: no human can. All we can do is gently readjust our position so that we're more likely to receive God's grace that will help do less damage than we did before.
Saturday's fall off the wagon involved an impressive upwelling of anxiety regarding my absolute certainty that I am supposed to change the world in a measurable way, in a big way. I believe this more strongly than I believe that my feet will always be stuck to the planet by gravity. It's an internal motivation and therefore impossible to shrug off by saying that it doesn't matter what other people expect, which is how people try to comfort me. This is a huge weight and responsibility and most days I don't notice it. But I think that as I have been slowing down and examining myself, I can't help but notice it finally and respond to this inviolable expectation that I have of myself. It's difficult because as I slow down and quilt a little more often (Josh & Sara, Dan & Mary get ready!), I want this life for myself. I want a life where I'm only responsible for improving the lives of my immediate circle through love, caring and kindness. Systemic change is so all-consuming. It's a little scary.
Having lunch with Shane Claiborne, my nemesis, didn't help much. Nor did going to hear Anne Lamott speak on the same themes of focusing on our small communities and what we contribute. The one-day retreat in a beach house in Michigan, studying Henri Nouwen's, In the Name of Jesus, about his transition from hifalutin Harvard professor to companion of handicapped adults and Bart Campolo's talk at last year's CCDA about how impact might just be impossible to achieve in urban ministry certainly intensified this internal struggle. Sitting on the beach feeling almost too hot in the sun, with my feet shocked occasionally by the cold Lake Michigan water was so perfect, so restful, so uncomplicated. I lived in the now of physical sensations and felt a little transcendent. The daunting challenge of finding that same transcendence in the rest of my life is currently haunting me.
Still, I am happier than I have been in a long time. I am more in love with Jacob than I have ever been and my family is brilliant. My job continues to feel useful and the tasks I am set are mostly interesting. It's hard to complain about that and I don't think I am. But when given the opportunity to write a little bit tonight before I head out to my bi-weekly Dungeons & Dragons game, these are the things that were worth sharing with you.
not just for swinging - Obviously, the best place for making art is on a swing and with a chicken at your side. This girl knows a thing or two.