December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)
My one word is Holy.
Sometimes this year felt like "Holy Crap! What next?" (Songbird, you just finished a six-month job search and started your new call. How about a cancer diagnosis for your dog and a decision to divorce all in the first month?!?!! And let's throw in some new RA symptoms, just for good measure!!!)
I'm coming to grips with what I hope is holy humility, through the application of holy humor. I never imagined myself ever, ever being divorced, and now I'm going to have two ex-husbands. It seems like a sense of humor is the only tonic for being part of what, as a sympathetic friend said in describing her own similar experiences, "a white trash soap opera." I have jokingly referred to The Father of My Children as Eximus Prime. LP sometimes describes the departing husband as He Who Must Not Be Named. We will get through this, but for now it's still hard. Holy Heck, Batman!
But interspersed among the stressors and the losses came holy signs of hope and joy and love. I never felt alone. I managed to get up and preach every Sunday this fall. I have a good doctor, and when I'm ready to try the heavier-duty medicines for RA, he's ready, too. My kids have been fabulous, even though they are feeling that same mix of sad and shocked and grieved that I feel.
My friends–well, they are the holy team on which I have relied. They showed up, they prayed, they painted and took me to the hardware store and pulled up a dead tree that had been a wedding present, they gave me jewelry to wear reminding me of courage when I didn't feel it, they raked, they cooked, they took me to Soak and met me for coffee, they called late at night when they saw me moping on Twitter, and most importantly, they listened.
We said a Holy Farewell to our beloved Sam Dog, and yes, a friend was there with us then, too.
And when I look back at this year, I will never forget the Holy Phone Calls. One came from the search committee at NYCC. All through the search process I had been doing the calculations in my head; my colleague at Y1P called me on it, saying he had yet to hear me express a feeling about where God wanted me to be. On that Thursday night, I felt the upsurge of joy that affirmed a call not just from the church but from God.
Ultimately, though, it is the other Holy Phone Call that I will never forget, the one that will mean this will always be a good year in my memory, even though it was so hard. It was the middle of the night. My cell phone rang. It was an unfamiliar number, but I recognized the area code as coming from Mitten-Shaped State. It was Snowman. "Mom, I've been in an accident, but I'm okay." Every retelling of the story made it clear that we received a Holy Miracle that night. There is no reason–no reason, really–why it should have turned out so well for the boy who rolled out of the car one way while the car flipped the other.
Every reunion with him now feels amazing and holy.
It's appropriate for Advent to look ahead. What is coming? In 2011, I hope my one word will be Normal. We are going through so many adjustments. I'm making financial choices to adjust to the changed reality. We're living without a dog, and that feels crummy at the same time it feels too soon to consider another one, if that's even feasible. As LP has expressed, we're getting up and going to work and school and looking reasonably normal and doing all the things we are supposed to do, while grief and sadness simply hang there beside us.
In Advent we also focus on preparation. Moving through grief to a New Normal will not be easy. But time and attention to feelings will allow us–I believe it–to create that new Normal, one that when we look back next December will feel not like a fractured life but a whole one, materially and emotionally and spiritually.