We are coming off a pretty tumultuous month. In the space of just a few weeks, Laura and I have traveled back to Michigan to mark the death and celebrate the life of her brother Frank-who was killed in a car accident; I have gone on retreat; we have had a death of a life-long member of the parish here at St. Peter's after she weathered a hard passage of illness and pain, and then marked a massive celebration of early communion for our second-grade Sunday School class. I am amazed that all of this has happened, really, in just the past two and a half weeks. Sometimes, life is just-well-overwhelming in the magnitude and intensity of the waves and winds that pull us back and forth. From sorrow to joy, from desolation to consolation and back again.
As the small windstorms that have circled around the Shelly homestead wane a bit and the dust kicked up by them begins to settle, I am working on bringing all of the experiences of the past weeks into some kind of coherent matrix. Perhaps there can be some wisdom to gain from these moments? Perhaps some changes are due in my life to let the impact of the good and the sad we have experienced bring some "added benefit" to my and Laura's existence?
Honestly, I wish I could say that was happening. But, I find myself tripping up a bit, allowing old and bad habits to manifest themselves in my daily walk with God in community with my wife, family, friends and church. I stay up too late distracting myself from rest with books, movies, and petty entertainments. I eat a bit too much, hoping that a slightly over-full feeling in my stomach will fill the empty place in my soul left by people we know and love in their flight to Christ. I let anger, fear, worry or stress cross the threshhold of my life and dwell therein....most times.
And then, today is an instance, I stop the cycles of turning from those opportunities to embrace a bit of quiet, a period of prayer, on behalf of life beyond me. I think that is what is missing when I succumb to indulgence in the face of stress. Instead of distraction, I hone in on the hope and grace evidenced by seeing how people can love, can act, can care for each other even in the midst of grief, loss and the feared-or realized-death of loved ones.
Faith in God also requires faith in the self/community. I know I preached it on Sunday, but I also find that even a preacher who is passionately committed to a shared life of grace needs to remember to dial in to that grace on Monday mornings...much as all else in this life.
Christ give me the grace to eat moderately today, love with abandon and then go to bed early....