Dear Family and Friends,
It has been over two years since I have written and shared how I’m doing. You have all been polite and haven’t asked. I figure it is time I try to put it in words. So this writing will be about the year 2016. I will follow up with one for 2017.
During 2016 I don’t know how many times I said, “Oh Carol, I wish you were here.” I would say it to myself. I was surprised by how much humor and joy was gone when she was not here. It was definitely not as much fun. I missed those interactions with her. When people would ask how I was doing, the usual answer was, “I’m OK.” I actually didn’t know how to answer the question.
But the truth was, there were times I was not OK. 2016 was a difficult year for me. I know many of you have traveled a similar path. Each path is unique and I was learning about loneliness and absence and how one tries to get on with life. As I look back over that year, my attempts at getting on with life had not seemed to be successful. I seemed to be at the same place I was at the end of 2015. In general, 2016 was an “interim” time, a time of not much progress or movement.
But neither was it all dark. God was faithful and encouraged me through a friend who makes lunch appointments with me every couple of weeks. Another who calls me regularly, every week or so. There were card games with friends and family. There were refreshing trips to visit family in Wyoming and Arizona. There was the distraction and comfort of a church small group and the fellowship of the men in Celebrate Recovery.
And God brought books across my path that were what I needed at the time. Here are three quotes as examples. When I didn’t know how to express how it feels, there was N. T. Wright in Lent For Everyone saying, “…darkness has descended and there is nothing to make you think, ‘It will be all right.’ It won’t. It can’t be. The worst has occurred and nothing will ever be the same. That’s how it feels.” 1
When I was trying to connect the dots and think about what’s next, there was J. Todd Billings in Rejoicing in Lament saying, “Our story is not endless. Our story is not full of limitless possibilities. It has a shape— and we are not, in fact, the author of the story. We are finite creatures, not creators who know no limits. We live in the story, and while we can act in genuine freedom, we are not the master of a choose-your-own-adventure novel…. 'It’s not your job to fashion your own success as if you were God. It’s not your job to write the last chapter of your life. It’s not your job to tie up the loose ends. It’s not your job to make sense of everything. Your life is hid with Christ in God: Let it be your highest act of faith and faithfulness to leave it there! Leave the ambiguity of discipleship at the cross. Let God gather up the fragments. Let God finish the story.' 2 ” 3
And when I thought I ought to sit down and write about my feelings there was Lore Ferguson Wilbert in “Christianity Today” saying, “But sometimes (not always) the best thing to do is to be silent. To listen. To hear. To experience emotions without immediately finding a place for them. To resist the urge to make a story with a beginning, middle, and end out of our ongoing brokenness and frailty.”
So it was an interim year of emotions and feelings and not being able to express them. It was a time to be silent and listen. When words fail, sometimes music gives it expression. My playlist on Pandora was very melancholy. It was a year of sadness. A song that expresses the year for me is “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. If you are familiar with the story it is a prayer by a mother for her boy on the barricades of the French revolution. This version by “The Piano Guys” says musically what I had been feeling that year. It still brings tears to my eyes.
Bring Him Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mJ08-pyDLg
So 2016 ended about where I started the year. It just was. It was a time of sadness. A time to be silent and listen. In the next post I will share about 2017.
1 N. T. Wright, (2012) Lent For Everyone: Luke, Year C, Westminster John Knox Press
2 John L. Thompson, “An Exhortation to Martyrdom” (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1997), 4 ppt://documents, fuller.edu/sot/faculty/thompson_john/Exhortation.pdf.
3 J. Todd Billings, (2015) Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ, Brazos Press
All my posts are on my blog at http://www.paravel.com along with links to:
and Kelly’s Blog