Archive for August, 2011

Good-bye, New York City.  It was hard, the entire last semester, to really understand that we were leaving. I was too busy, carrying too many last minute responsibilities, and the last semester at school was really, really hard.  I think only in the past few weeks have I understood that I am really gone– I won’t be back at my church, I won’t see “my kids” again, I won’t see as regularly my dear friends who are still there.

We spent July in Red Bay, Ontario.  Matt’s grandmother’s cottage: Matt’s mother has gone nearly every summer since she was a baby, so has Matt. Hammocks, water, sunsets. Stacks of library books, trying new recipes and cooking together, sleeping in.

We moved to California.  Flying West, as we crossed three time zones, and found ourselves over mountains, and then mountains and palm trees… so strange.  Is this real?  Do I really live here?  Are those _avocados_ growing on that tree?

Cessation of anxiety.  I was really mostly anxiety-free in Red Bay, which is unusual. Usually, when I am on vacation, or away from my home or routine, I feel guilty about leaving my jobs and responsibilities, and the unfamiliar landscape manifests in random anxieties at night.  This year, happily, I had a few days where I was (appropriately because of work responsibilities) stressed, but slept every night.

When I moved to NYC, I was deeply homesick, and horribly panicked. I suffered from panic attacks daily and nightly, couldn’t sleep, and became really brittle and sick.  I’ve been trying to be patient with myself with this move, to listen to my body and allow lots of time for “processing.”  So far, so good.  We are settled into our beautifully painted apartment, I’ve been sleeping through every night, and feeling occasional spurts of (natural, I think) nervousness tied to genuine excitement.

For all of this, I have been immensely grateful. I half-joked to someone in a letter yesterday that I hope God doesn’t get tired of us saying “thank you.” I’m like some kind of gratitude wind-up toy— walking about looking at hot pink trees and grapefruit, through the lovely village, around campus, finding lizards and bookstores, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” a dozen times a day.

In the Bible, there’s a whole entire book of lamentations. If one has grievances or pains to bring to God, there are myriad models for crying out.  Think about Job!  Think about all the saints, in their times of pain– even Jesus Christ gives us a model for “talking back” to God.  There are praise Psalms, but it feels like when I am happy and grateful, there’s no artful way to keep repeating myself.  I’m just happy and grateful. Luckily for me, I think I don’t have to be artful for God.

I should ask my friends if there are certain songs they play, or videos they watch, when they are feeling all is well with the world.  I need a gratitude/excitement/eagerness mix tape!

Orientation.  This is actually the first orientation to a new school program I’ve done properly. For my first experience as an undergrad, I came too late for orientation, straight from hospital, and missed all of that information. (Didn’t turn out well, either– I lacked a lot of resources that I never did find for myself.)  For my second go-round in undergrad, I started mid-year.  For my first time in grad school, I was sick with anxiety and tears, and sometimes couldn’t leave my room– so I missed some of the offerings.  This time, I went to every single thing.  Finally!  Even though I know a lot, I found it remarkable the things I didn’t know. I marvelat the resources availed to me.

Peace.  So, on the first day of orientation, I was noticing that I was feeling both excited and a little trepidation. I was listening, being patient with myself. And a package arrived for me from my Dominican spiritual mentor. One item in the package: a little terra-cotta heart with the word “peace” hand-stamped into the surface. Also included: the liturgy for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, which included a litany of women witnesses, and a celebration of “voices that challenge.”  Also: a litany of peace “as we journey,” including this prayer:

“God of peace, you are the center of our lives, a strong refuge in the whirlwind of living. When our hearts are anxious, worried, or fearful, bring your calm and serenity to us. Remind us often that we can come, resting in the dwelling place of your love, and be at peace.”

I like the idea that I am taking place (and adding to!) a “whirlwind” of living… but that I don’t have to remain there when it becomes too much.

This image, a photograph of a statue, appears on the front page of the liturgy. The Dominicans describe it, “Mary has been bent, huddled, distraught at the disappearance of Jesus’ body. Then she hears her name spoken, and turns, looking upward to Jesus standing behind her.”


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