Monday, May 28, 2012

Living in/through the "in-between times"

I have had a wonderful spring at home in Forks. Holy Week and Easter at St. Anne's were amazing. Working with Parish Council has been wonderful. I've met the new priest who will begin here after I have left, and I think he is a great fit for the parish.

My arrangements are more or less complete for my trip to the Midwest this summer. I'll attend the Nun's Life Community Summit in Monroe, Michigan on the grounds of the IHM Motherhouse in the first week of July. I'll go to Minneapolis on the 5th of July to begin my six month "monastic immersion experience. I'll stay there until after the first of the year. Then I'll make a trip to California on my way home to Forks.

My present plan is to be here in Forks briefly in the winter - make sure everything is in good order for an extended absence - and then I will return to Monroe, MI to begin a long period of discernment and reflection with the IHM sisters about forming some sort of connection with them.

People ask me if this is permanent. I don't know. Discernment is a two way process. It takes a long time. Since I know that I don't know how it will all turn out, I'm not burning any bridges. I'm keeping my place here in Forks for quite some time to come.

I'm already old - and I have an unknown amount of time left. But that's true of everyone at every point of life. We never really have more than today - so all we can do is to live today in whatever way we feel we are called to do it. For me, that means that I must explore the possibility of some sort of religious life, for which I am, by any objective standard, far too old. So I will begin that journey in all realization that I may never arrive at any clear destination. That seems fine to me right now.

What is hard is to live in the "in-between time," where one both loves and appreciates all that has been and longs for what still might be. I have less than five weeks left before I leave here. And I have much to do to leave everything in good order. I am loving sitting in my own chair, looking out my own window, at my own beautiful trees - watching the birds attacking the bird-feeders. I am sorting cupboards, drawers, closets, and the garage! I am loving sorting through the "stuff of my life," making decisions about what to keep, what to take with me, what to dispose of.

When letters or emails arrive from Michigan or Minnesota, my heart leaps with anticipation and joy. My family is coming to spend time here during the last couple weeks of June, and I am so looking forward to that! Other friends are coming for visits in the next couple of weeks. My friend Sally says I am having a wake before I'm dead! Yes! I suppose I am!

I have little understanding of how I came to these decisions.  I am a fish in the river, and a lure came floating down. I bit on the hook and took it deeply into me. Now I find myself being reeled in . . . and waiting, wanting to be landed on the shore. What comes next is mystery. It doesn't matter. The hard part is the in-between part. I'm not sure, though, just where past and future meet - maybe life is all an "in-between part" and we just think we know where things start and stop along the way.

A friend sent me this poem. It has come to mean a great deal to me, though I can't tell you at all what the "whole poem" means - just that certain lines and phrases speak to me.
It's called "Getting There" by David Wagoner, from his book In Broken Country.
        You take a final step and, look, suddenly
       You're there. You've arrived
       At the one place all your drudgery was aimed for:
       This common ground
       Where you stretch out, pressing your cheek to sandstone.

       What did you want
       To be? You'll remember soon. You feel like tinder
       Under a burning glass,
       A luminous point of change. The sky is pulsing
       Against the cracked horizon,
       Holding it firm till the arrival of stars
       In time with your heartbeats.
       Like wind etching rock, you've made a lasting impression
       On the self you were
       By having come all this way through all this welter
       Under your own power,
       Though your traces on a map would make an unpromising
       Meandering lifeline.

       What have you learned so far? You'll find out later,
       Telling it haltingly
       Like a dream, that lost traveler's dream
       Under the last hill
       Where through the night you'll take your time out of mind
       To unburden yourself
       Of elements along elementary paths
       By the break of morning.

       You've earned this worn-down, hard, incredible sight
       Called Here and Now.
       Now, what you make of it means everything,
       Means starting over:
       The life in your hands is neither here nor there
       But getting there,
       So you're standing again and breathing, beginning another
       Journey without regret
       Forever, being your own unpeaceable kingdom,
       The end of endings.

So I look at this and think. It's not about an in-between time at all. It's all about the journey, the "getting there." It's all about HERE AND NOW. Because that is all we really ever have. (Sometimes it means "starting over.")

Stay tuned. There's more to come. I think, anyway.