I have finally found some grace to begin organizing my papers and going through files (about time after almost 2 years!).
I came across this letter, which for some reason was not included in the original journal entry for that week but was written as an afterthought and place in a file with our wills. I have not cried much for the last 3 years, but I caught a soft sob in my throat as I read this ....
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Monday, January 27, 2014
I arise today .... "Faeth Fiada" St. Patrick's Breastplate (originally written in Old Irish from the 5th to the 8th century)
I arise today Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
Saturday, January 18, 2014
"All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.
Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love."
Sunday, January 5, 2014
2014.01.05 John 14
My first journal entry of 2014. I read John 14 this morning, “Let not your heart be troubled … trust me!”
I talked with Brian E. yesterday. I had told him in an email that I was having some discouraging thoughts … thoughts of checking out or wanting to find an exit from the world. Of course he called me and we talked.
I told Brian that my life lacks meaning and purpose. For almost my entire adult life I had a meaningful person in my life – Debbie. And with her, together we discovered a grand purpose, serving God together! Which later translated more specifically into church planting and missions (and some years pastoring). Together we evangelized and discipled numerous young people. In all three churches, we started with young people. All of the churches (except the house churches at the end) are still healthy and thriving. That was my life with Debbie – a meaningful person and a high purpose
Those two things have been objectively removed from my life. Regardless of my state of mind on a particular day, I live with that double void. I can be in a good mood, going to salsa class … but the void and the sense of meaninglessness is there.
So… I suppose in addition to grief (I think I am passed most of the grief), I am trying to adapt to this massive Teutonic plate shift in my life. I have some goals ….goals for this year, for the next two or three years …. But no sense of overriding purpose. And certainly, I have wonderful friends, but no “meaningful” person to share my life with.
I think my insight this morning as I write this is that in my past life, the person and the purpose were inextricably interconnected. It was something we shared, something we did together. What are the chances of that ever happening again?
Am I condemned to live the rest of my life from day-to-day, just doing whatever needs to be done, with no sense of high purpose? Just drifting from one activity to another? Or worse yet, from one person to another?
Another thing that I realized as I was talking to Brian is that, both the person (Debbie) and the purpose (our calling) were given by God, gifts of grace in this highest possible meaning of the phrase. As I write this, I am filled with a profound sense of happy gratitude. Who was I, an insecure farm kid from Ohio, to be SO graced by God with a wonderful person and a high purpose? It changed my life and the overflow of that grace brought me to this place I am at today, living in Miami with four wonderful children, a multitude of friends in 3 different languages and serving young people with my education.
So maybe I need to surrender the sense of high purpose (as I already have let go of the meaningful person) and just spend the rest of my life thanking God and expressing my gratitude. That would not be a bad future.
“Christ the center” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer (I turned and looked up at his book on the shelf—its good to be back with my friends!). If Christ is the center of gravity, then I need to reorient my life in orbit around him. Maybe that will give me the firm place to stand, and not just theoretically.
Bonhoeffer also wrote about “religionless Christianity” … that is what I have been questing for these recent years. Maybe that is my new high purpose – to discover a path through the secular, postmodern wilderness (without going ghetto), and leave markers for young disciples to follow.
I need to stop looking for a new person … even unconsciously. If God does not send her to me (like he did Debbie), I will undoubtedly regret finding her.
The Buddha said that the root of all suffering was craving. I need to let go of my craving.
Well! I am glad I had this talk with myself! I read from page 63 of George MacDonald’s “Knowing the Heart of God” this morning. The subtitle was “Only Those Doing it Know How Hard.” MacDonald wrote “Entering into the Kingdom of God was to Paul, a daily battle with his own self.”
Dear God, I need your grace to give me the desire to press into you, to renew my soul – my strength. I need to know Jesus in a deeper way. Please show me the way. Lord, behold the void in my life … my soul feels empty. I trust you to fill me in your time. I trust you to seek me and find me and show me the way forward. Lord teach me how to live alone, without a meaningful person to share my life in this season, and how to love you and follow you without a high purpose.
As I finished praying, Ortega's Lonely Road came on Pandora. I sometimes wonder if that is a means of Gods communication to me.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
This song represents how I feel this morning, especially the "fightings and fears, within and without" part ...
♪ Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Friday, December 6, 2013
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Debbie … with kind of a weird ‘shock’ I realized that she was gone …. We had talked so much about that eventuality during seven years …. And now the nightmare future is here and I am living in a dim grey world in which she is not present.
Will I ever get over this? Get over her and her absence …. When I woke up last night, I vividly remembered the first time I saw here … I was 17 in study hall, she was 15. For all of my adult life, she was the sweet symbol of womanhood, femininity and sexuality … and grew into my best friend and soul mate ….
We shared our DNA and created four beautiful human beings – and then we shared our gifts and energies and created three churches … that are still around and thriving.
With her gone it is very much like part of me is gone … a very large part of me. It is like my entire adult life and identity is gone …. What is left? Do I really have to start a whole new life at 62? And forge a new identity? Do I even have ‘time” to create a new life before I too will be gone?
I need to go back and reread C.S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed.” Maybe I am taking too long to get through this … Maybe I just need to “man-up” and move on.