Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Pearl of Great Worth

O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don't forget a single blessing!

Bless God, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are--
everything and everyone made by God.

And you, O my soul, bless God!

Psalm 103, selected verses.

All those who know what has been going on in my life know that one of my long time prayers was answered recently. For all of my adult life I have prayed that God would allow me to meet a man that I could love and care for who would love and care for me. I always made the payer a sentence because it didn't warrant elaborate begging, I knew that God understood my request because he, “knit me in my mother's womb,” there is nothing about me that he doesn't know. Many have been the times that I have poured out my heart to Him in the darkness, always keeping my prayer simple, it didn't require any more.

About seven weeks ago I met a man in church, his name, Bob. Bob asked me on the church sidewalk if I would like to have dinner with him sometime soon, and before the words could drift from his mouth to my ears I said, “Yes!” During that week we had dinner and as we talked and listened and started to know one another I felt that this man was different. When dinner was over he walked me to my car and we talked more, we hugged and parted company. I got in the car and when I pulled onto the highway I looked to the sunset and said, “Lord, this is the one, isn't it?”

Over the next several weeks I began to feel the peace that comes with a prayer answered, a favor granted. I knew that God had put Bob in my life, there was no question about it in my mind. Bob and I agreed that we would take things slow, he told me that he had rushed into other situations and that he didn't want to repeat the mistakes of his past. I told him that being new to all of this that I didn't want to mess things up by being in a hurry and suggested that together we simply enjoy the journey. That's what we did.

After having met Bob my birthday came along and at 9:30 on the morning of my birthday he called to wish me a happy birthday and we talked about the plans of our separate days. His was the first voice I heard that day. A few weeks ago at 6:30 in the morning my phone rang, there is a descending order for me of what that means, I always fear calamity first, family ill, secondly I think, who can't make it to work? When I answered the phone, the voice on the other end was Bob's as he said, “Good morning, Sunshine.” My heart melted a little, he called to say good morning and he did so each morning after. Before bed we talked to one another and said good night and wished each other good sleep. Each time, after hanging up I would simply say, “Lord, you have sent me the one, I can tell.”

With Bob I got to do a few things that I have never done before, I got to hold hands in the movies. Silly isn't it? A teenage thing, but a thing that I missed as a teenager. On this past Sunday we stood together in church and shared a hymnal, his arm around me, not an experience I had ever had before. I was seeing that we were recognizing that we loved one another.

On Wednesday, September 17th I received my first e mail from him, telling me again that he didn't want to rush our relationship, that he hoped that I wasn't frustrated. Me? Frustrated? NO! It was all happening at a pace that to me showed that our relationship was moving toward true and honest love. “Lord, he is the one, thank you for sending him to me.”

That evening I called to tell him good night, his daughter answered the phone and I asked to speak to him, she told me that he had died that afternoon, having suffered a heart attack. Bob was gone, slipped through my fingers like sand, he was gone from my world and the world of his family, his church, his other friends, but selfishly I thought, he's gone from my life, from my hopes and dreams, GONE, damn it, why did it have to happen this way? And then I remembered, don't ask why.

Never in my life have I loved a man as much as I have loved Bob, there had not been one before, so the experience was all new to me. He had taken me the Sunday before to meet his sister and brother in law and his grandniece. Driving home in wind and mist I knew that he was tired and needed to kick back for a while. When he dropped me off at my apartment I said, “Well, I expect that I'll be the topic of conversation over meat loaf and mashed potatoes tonight, I hope I pass the test.” Bob's response to me was, “you have already passed the hardest test of all, you make me happy.”A tear came to my eye and I told him that I have never been happier in my life. A statement that I could make with every confidence.

The time that has followed has been an interesting one, I have received e mails, and now calls from people telling me how sorry they are, people from All Saints, the church we shared, people from the church that I had recently left. Family and friends all sharing their care and concern. I have been surrounded by people who have shown their love in such amazing ways. Fr. Steve and Jerry, quick to care for me, Kathy S, who when she received the news told Fr. Steve that the two of them should come and tell me in person, though I called Fr. Steve before they had the chance. Over the phone I felt his shepherds crook around me, drawing me even closer into the fold, then the next day, not his staff, but his arms. There has been a visit from some friends from my former church, men who understood the experience of first love and living in good solid relationships now.

I am truly blessed to have received calls from friends who have simply said, “tell me about it.” Opening their hearts to hear the story, through tears and with the sounds that a broken heart makes, rattling in my chest and voice.

I have repeated two things several times, they have given me comfort, the first: I have said that I was looking for the pearl of great worth and when I found it I was allowed to hold it, feel it's luster and allowed to look into the sheen of it and see that there was a sparkle in it, but pearls don't sparkle, that sparkle came from my eyes. Now, the pearl of great worth is gone, I see now that because it was so precious and so treasured I was only allowed to hold it for a moment, our relationship only lasted about seven weeks. Still, the loss has felt like the loss of a lifetime love.

The second thing that I have said is this: I was having the feelings that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Bob, now I see that he spent the rest of his life with me.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A time to...

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
...A time to weep and a time to laugh;
...A time to mourn and a time to dance;
...A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
...A time to gain and a time to lose;

These words that come from the opening verses of the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes are some of my favorite of the Old Testament. I've given only a few of the verses above, from Chapter 3:1-8, all of them are meaningful and precious to me; I've only listed a few above. They were the words that I chose to open the service of committal for my father's ashes. I chose them for that occasion because they speak of just about every event in life, and its counterpart. They seemed like appropriate words for the moment, but they speak to me as wisdom to ponder, They are words of wisdom from the pen of King Solomon and since he is considered to be the wisest man in history it only seems appropriate to think on these words.

In the 1950's Pete Seeger used the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 to write the song called Turn, Turn, Turn. He added only one line to the scripture text. After the words, “A time to love, a time to hate; A time of war, and a time for peace.” he added, “I swear it's not too late.” He wanted the song to be a plea for world peace. In 1965 the folk music band, The Byrds' recorded the song and it reached the US music charts. The song has long made it easy for me to remember the words of the scripture text.

King Solomon was truly wise in saying that there is a time for every purpose under heaven, there is, it's really that simple, though we want to complicate things sometimes. I selected the verses above because they have been the ones that have moved through my life most recently, some in very serious ways, some in a more amusing way if I think about it.

“A time to be born, a time to die;” this line is really pretty simple, there have been several births in my extended family of late, my second cousins are the ones having children now and I hear about them through my mother, she has spoken of how the mothers and fathers have beamed at the baby showers that were given by their aunts. Of course there is death, daily there are those who leave this life for the next one and I often say that I am not angry for their death, I'm jealous that they are headed to their eternal home without me.

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh;” This is a daily part of my life, sometimes there are moments of sorrow that bring me to tears, moments of joy that bring tears to my eyes, look to the verse above and you'll understand. There have been times where I have lived this one backwards and I have laughed until I cried. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. I've found healing in laughing until I cried, but I have also wept knowing that there would be moments of laughter that followed.

“A time to mourn, and a time to dance;” again, see above. However, mourning doesn't have to be just attached to death, yesterday I learned that someone I know has been diagnosed with lung cancer, it is isolated to one lung and so the treatment option offered has been to remove the lung, knowing that he can live a long life with just one, while the family is in fear and mourning the event in their life, there is the very good chance that after the surgery they will have opportunity to dance for the joy of his healing. I've spoken to a friend mentioned in one of my blog entries entitled, “A Kathy-like Faith”, she has spoken of her illness as a reason to dance. I am glad that she sees it that way and she does for all of the right reasons, granted, for me it has taken a little while for me to get out my tap shoes to join her, but the longer I think on it the more I want to dance with her.

There are other things that happen in our life that cause us to mourn and when the event is brought to true light the shock is melted away then there is cause for dancing. I've experienced that lately.

“A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;” I'm going to go out on a limb on this one, for me I have often felt that I wanted to challenge King Solomon on the wisdom of putting this statement in this order; I have wanted it to be, “a time to refrain from embracing, and a time to embrace.” This is where I'm going to go a little deeper than I have on the previous selections above. I love to hug, it is a moment of physical contact that expresses a true and honest feeling, be it fraternal, paternal, familial or made of pure romance, or deep and caring love, you know what the other is feeling when they hug you. It is pretty hard to hide your feelings when you hug, a handshake doesn't show your emotions like a hug does.

There was a time where I walled myself off from the hug that went beyond fraternal, paternal or familial. I hugged my friends, with friendly hugs and I hugged my parents and family with hugs that displayed my love for them. However, there was no one to share the hug of deep and caring love for another or the pure romance hug. Now there is, and I have to say that it has brought to me a view of life that I have not seen before. To feel love in this way is new to me, and yet it is very natural, it is a feeling that I don't want to go away, there is a feeling in these hugs that I can't wait to experience again. Frankly, this is a feeling of love that I have waited a very long time for and it is a wonderful experience. I don't want to refrain from embracing and I don't want anyone else to either, I see how it can be a cure to many of our ills. The healing of a hug, we can't bottle it, we can't compress it to pill form, once given it can be returned, but doing so is a wonderful thing; there are great things that come from the time to embrace. I am finding a healing in it, in the form of a healing from the loneliness that I've experienced in my life, some of the fears that I've had that I would always be single and thus the loneliness would continue. I don't want to refrain from embracing, I hope that Solomon will understand.

“A time to gain, and a time to lose;” okay, this is where the sense of humor has to come into play. Over many years I've put on some pounds, God knows how many and frankly, I don't want to know. Lately, I've lost a few of those pounds, but I have kept in mind what Carl Hurley says, “if someone loses weight some one has to gain it or the earth will fall out of balance and we will go careening into the sun.” So I would like to take this opportunity to thank whoever has taken up my slack. Bear in mind that I am not bragging, I am grateful and I know that it is the healthy thing for me to do, something that I've needed to attack harder in the past, but it didn't work out that way, maybe it was because I was supposed to continue to do my share to keep us from being burnt to a crisp or perhaps this is the time that it was supposed to happen, I can look at it as, “and a time to lose.”

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven;” I see my life moving through a part of the circle that is virgin territory for me, and it is moving through some places that I've been before but a very long time ago. I know that I am seeing these paths, taking these new/renewed journeys because God is truly in charge and he has heard my prayers and granted them knowing that they were all in his good time. Exciting? You bet, because I know that I have God holding my hand, and a dear and precious man embracing me, I don't plan on refraining.