Sam went to Youth Group with me tonight. We met with the Senior High kids and then checked in on the Junior Youth meeting, where half-a-dozen sixth grade girls raced across the room to pet him.
(He likes girls a lot.)
I had been away at our Annual Conference Meeting and got home only a short time before I needed to go to church. I missed him and didn't want to leave him, even though he had the company of Pure Luck's BFF all weekend. I'm grateful I could take him with me.
But I can't stop thinking how weird it is to be at a church where they've never known Molly.
"Our other Berner," I say, or "our first Berner." The first sounds too immediate, as if she might be waiting at home; the second sounds too distant,practically historic.
We've had a lot of transitions this year, loss and separation and disappointments and graduation and disconnection and one new entry after another for each of us at jobs and schools. In all the time I've known him, Pure Luck has never worked at so many different locations in one year. And I'm aware that moving from one church community to another, despite the interesting nature of the work (and the rather wonderful time I'm having at Y1P), creates additional strain on the family system. I wonder what's next, and it will need to be an active form of wonder fairly soon. I'll undergo another criminal background check, since they are only good for 18 months and I had my last almost two years ago. I'll need to update my ministerial profile.
On the old one, I listed ministry work with Molly as one of my interests.
When Pure Luck and I first knew each other, when we decided to see if we had more in common than the spark we both appreciated so much, we bought a jigsaw puzzle and put it together on my dining room table. No lightweights, we chose a 1000 piece puzzle for our experiment. I remember his long body leaning across the table, patiently piecing clouds while I focused on the swath of red cape, or the little lilac cloak. We worked on the puzzle for several weeks and our anticipation grew as we neared completion.
But in the end a piece had gone missing. Perhaps a cat walked across the table and knocked a piece aside with a paw. Perhaps a young child picked one up and carried it away. We did not know, and with disappointment, we put the pieces back in the box.
Some time later I found the missing piece when I lifted the corner of the oriental rug to vacuum.
I find I'm looking back and wondering about my choices; it seems inevitable after a weekend with colleagues, seeing who has moved, or what pulpits have been filled, knowing some got where they are by the rules of our system, while others…well, let's just say a few pieces of the process may have gone missing. I look back and wonder if I made good choices, if I really understood where God was leading me. I look ahead and wonder where God will beckon and whether I will be able to finish the puzzle the right way, wonder if I ever have?
The painting is Raphael's Triumph of Galatea. As in so many mythological stories there is love between a human and a nymph, and there is a jealous monster, and there is a tragic death and in this case a river that holds the spirit of the dead lover. Galatea's triumph is not to defeat her enemies or to bring her love back to life but to transcend this plane of existence.
I fear I want my satisfaction, my completion, my meaning on this plane instead.
We still have the puzzle. I can't remember whether I put the missing piece in the box with the rest of them. It's been eight years, and that memory might as well be under the rug, too. Galatea still has her apotheosis, with or without it.