Again, I know, it isn’t January, but this is ready now.
It has been a long year since June when I braved opening myself up again to the wrenching of fear and loss I’d begun to write about the previous January. Deciding to peer into the broader context of the CRC thinking it would help me write beyond how hard it is to lose your family, church and community. The bits of ‘faith’ I’d already braved in shorter version during my three years writing beyond the journal of my journey suggested by good friends to help me get through the process.
Where was I when all the drama crept in. I was too busy battling why in my own context to understand some of what was happening. I was also in a different culture – one of the colonies – why are we talking about colonies? I’m still struggling with Jack’s determination to do something good at school, in his communities, intentionally putting himself into the spaces in between Canadian and Indigenous cultures and hoping for cross cultural understanding and dialogue. The places his later life touch the early years and almost of mine. I still remember Emmanuel College (albeit vaguely). I have spent too many moments since my move looking for the essay I know I wrote for the class topic on impact of the churches on indigenous culture. I can’t find it and don’t know what I said that spoke to why that had me going to the various libraries on campus looking for what I could not find. What fell by the way and got buried under the day to day needs of life unlike the one I envisioned.
I hung somewhere between my mom’s judgement of my personality, the life she thought I deserved (I never did figure out her parameters either positive or negative) and the confusion I felt watching others around me seemingly understanding themselves and their lives with far greater ease. I’ve been picking at it as I write the past few years, and talking about it with my ex husband, John, somewhat since he approached me for help with our eldest son around Christmas 2021 and a coffee July 2022.
We talk about our churches in Acton. My struggle with who we are as church. I talked to him about Jack, indigenous connections and visiting his current church when a brother of one of the members from Acton came to do a presentation on Indigenous Ministries and some art they had on tour. It’s all still out there in the network of connections. Communities set to have their own divorce of sorts if some of the discussions I read are accurate. A denomination here barely 100 years old. Older in the States. I’ve watched others go through church splits but not really understood at the time the depth of the cut. Not until my own crisis, and I had Jack to help me get through that; we talked about timing and building in the midst of divorce. I guess if we could do it others can, but I feel sad for those who will go through it alone.
I’m not even sure if alone is the right word. Yet it fits. Like all the times you read of those alone in the crowd. Like not knowing you are alone or in crisis until everyone else leaves and you just stand there staring.
This will bear some thinking and a lot of patience. I’m behind the times even when I lived in the midst of them. I’m facing words I do not know or understand. Watching them fly by my head unsure whether to duck. Waiting for the repeat to get a better look. Realizing the ugliness of a decade or more of words thrown at my head have done good work preparing me for this place. Those and Jack’s gentle words have shaped me. God is good, gracious and loving, and even the dumbest questions will get answered in time. “I don’t understand” or “but why” are loaded ones I’ve asked and this year some of the reasons for asking are finding their place ‘on the table’ beside the weight of books and dictionaries.
I’m going to be alright. I still need to practice planting my feet, extending my bravery where it tends to shrink back. But I feel more myself again than I’ve been this past year.
My book is changing shape, looking more like me than I was allowing. I am looking ahead at things I will write when it is done. Some more about Jack and his journey and ours, the faith ones that surface, my life still ahead. I hope the people I care about will find their feet too. In my small church and their church plants, partnerships and mission ventures they support, I think they are strong. I know they are bold. They must be brave – they rode things out with John and me in our years there and the last ones coming apart. I hope there’s good things they learned in the process that they can turn to good things for the years ahead. I believe they will.
For whatever it’s worth, I took good things away and grew a lot in the community I lived in, the churches I was involved with and the networks they formed. The people and their hearts for each other, those are the best parts. I stay in touch at least a bit, have visits when I can, love and am loved. I’m building new connections here, welcoming other into my story and place, being welcomes to theirs. Some long term, long distance, long views ahead.
I smile thinking of how big my community has become, the ways and the people who grow it, and their people farther out. The world breathes in new and old, the breath of G-d from the beginning of things, the verse I repeat that holds me, comforts me still, “in the beginning,..” I look it up, listen and let it seep into my bones. I read it in English and Hebrew, listening to the sound. It’s more than the words and more than I understand. It’s a lot like raising Jacob, and I still don’t understand. But something in the mystery, in the trust that it demands, holds still and lets me question, and the questions make me smile.
I shake my head often at myself. At the journey that I’m on. Beginnings and beginnings I hope I weather well, and I’ll keep reading and enjoying all that perplexes me. I’m still a kid, asking why and watching G-d show me how.
Meanwhile, today’s smile is finding interlinear bible sources with audio readings in Hebrew. I listen and think of love for Jack, his sons and friends. Letting language speak to story, like Jacob learning ASL, and my mother-in-law encouraging me to sing ‘Ere Zij God’ an old Dutch Christmas song. Feeling the fulness of other places, other cultures, other’s words building things into life from oh, so long, ago.
Thank you, January, you’ve been a good month so far, and I’m glad.
Note: this is the second piece I have written recently, where I set it aside, intending to find a suitable image and return, yet gone on with other things. The timing feels right, though I can’t justify why. I’m four sessions into Halakhic Man, by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchic, and enjoying it immensely.