Saturday, March 28, 2015

Episode 35: Friends Who Lead the Way

Naturally, my body holds a lot of anxiety all of the time.  And it sometimes manifests itself in less than reasonable ways....

That oil change I forgot to get last will almost definitely cause my car to breakdown on the middle of the interstate and I will surely be pummeled by a semi.

That cold bug I came down with....probably pneumonia; I'll probably be dead by Tuesday.

And then there's Diane-my dear friend, sister, and fellow lover of life. We met in divinity school and ever since she has been gently teaching me to set down my anxiety and simply live.

This past week Diane and I spent five days in the mountains of North Carolina.

Our time together involved a beautiful hike. A hike with waterfalls and gorgeous views. And, about half way up, a hike that got somewhat strenuous and slippery with a snake thrown in for good measure.

My anxious self was ready to turn around--I'm no mountain climber and while my Chacos are pretty fabulous they're still attached to my less-than-graceful, prone-to-falling feet.

But Diane just kept climbing--she didn't point out the ridiculous nature of my fear; she didn't preach about how I should be different--she just scrambled up the mountain ahead of me and kept going....

and as I've done so many times before, I thankfully followed--still a bit hesitant and anxious but ready to trust in the strong, amazing friend who was leading the way.

Before it was this particular hike, it was my gradual immersion in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)-- I wasn't really Disciple enough I told myself (I never went to summer camp after all)--but there was Diane, walking in front of me, as I made my way into regional assemblies, General assemblies and ultimately ordination and service in this denomination that is now my home....

Before it was this particular hike, it was my slow (and still slow) foray into running--I'm not really athletic enough, not strong enough, there's no way I can do this my anxiety whispered--but there was Diane, jogging in front of me, as I slowly shuffled my way mile after mile.

With Diane leading the way we found ourselves atop a beautiful waterfall, feet hanging over the edge of a rock, awash in sunlight, joyfully munching on the snacks we'd packed. She never said a word--she just put one foot in front of the other--and I walked alongside.

I am thankful for this dear friend and sister of mine who with her walking and her living reminds me to live fully, to take risks, to keep climbing.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Episode 34: Dear 2014, I'm so very glad you're gone.

Dear 2014-

I didn't see it coming but my, oh my, you were a doozy of a year.

Sarah and I went on a three hour hike today. We went, in part, because we love to hike. My real motivation though was to take as many steps as possible into this new year and leave you far behind.

Personally, you asked me to grow up a bit this year. I am more seasoned than when 2014 began; I know what it is to cry because life feels daunting and out of your control and I know what it is to get up the next day and keep walking, step after step.

I have become more acquainted with the word "cancer" than I'd like to be as those near me have learned that it resides within them. There is nothing redemptive here; no pithy joke that allows me to skip over the messiness of our fleshy existence; cancer was quite a bump in our 2014 road.

We didn't meet our someday-baby in 2014. I had hoped we would ring in the new year as exhausted new parents. Our family full with the addition of a new baby boy or girl. That was not to be. I know it will happen but it is still heavy, still sad. The waiting is still difficult.

We said goodbye to many friends--friends who are still friends though now, with the states in-between us, after work dinners and spur-of-the-moment adventures are no longer possible.

And on a larger note: our world is battered and bruised. You, 2014, were the year some within our country became aware of the systemic violence and racism that folks of color were already so intimately acquainted with. I continue to struggle to learn what it is to be an ally. Often, my words and actions are inadequate. I will keep trying.

So much hurt, a whole lot of pain, weak points and real grief. You were a doozy 2014. It's tempting to say something here--something about how much I learned or why it was all worth it in the end (a lot and I'm sure it will be) but instead I'd like to simply say "goodbye."

I will keep walking, journeying through this life of ours, and I am glad, so glad, that you are behind me.

With not much love,
Jamie Lynn