Saturday, March 05, 2011

Going Private

Search the Sea is going private in the next few days, as I try, as I am with Desert Year, to extract some of the material for publication in another form.

If you would like to continue to have access to it, let me know and I'll put you on the list.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Difficult Days

The last several days: very, very difficult.

At lunch, a friend sat down with someone new to me, someone who, as it turned out, lost her husband ten months ago. A midlife marriage, no children, deep closeness, and then ~ just over, she said.

We talked, a little.

I didn't have much to say. I was aware, in some vague place I hate, of how little of her experience I comprehend.

It's a place from which I recoil because it's the one in which I am aware of how profoundly alone we are.

I wandered through it a couple of weeks ago when Musical Friend, on the second anniversary of her husband's death, was challenged by someone else about how she had spent part of the day.

And then a few days after that when the funeral of a friend was the occasion for further acknowledgment of how different our apparently similar experiences are.

And then this lunch. I said that my inner, deepest core is a place of such complete sorrow now.

I said that most of the day, although no one would know it, my mind is engaged in thoughts and images far from what lies before us or from what we are discussing.

And our mutual friend said that that will go away.

With all the confidence of someone whose children are all alive.

I said that I didn't think so.

The woman who has lost her husband said that hers, her inner core, is filled more with anxiety. She is, evidently, quite shaken by the speed and completeness with which life changes.

I said nothing. I know quite a bit about that, but nothing at all from her perspective.

I thought that it would not be wise to try to challenge her, or to insist that things will change.

I couldn't see any reason to sharpen the blade of loneliness that slices the space between us.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Eighteen-Plus Months

Sometimes I still need to write over here, in relative anonymity.

Still in the house tonight. The Quiet Husband went out of town to visit his family for the day, Gregarious Son is at work, and The Lovely Daughter is over the the house of the new man in her life.

I was thinking, earlier, about another spring, 2001. Once the kids started school, we always spent the last two weeks of March in St. Augustine, so tonight we were probably packing up. I looked at the photos from that year - they all look so young! The Lovely Daughter and friends in their middle school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed right before spring break; the boys, tenth graders, in soccer and high school t-shirts; all of them in the pool in Florida late at night and on the beach all day.

It was a great life.

I knew it was a great life. So much more than I could have ever imagined. So much love and laughter, so much energy and humor.

So much lost.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Move to New Blog

In real life, I don't think that I can ever move. We've lived in this house 26 years and I am a Keeper of Papers and Books and Photos and Clothes That No Longer Fit.

Although ~ I recently talked to a couple who've downsized to a city condo. They told me that it's a two year project, and I believe them. Truthfully, I would love to move down the hill to one of the brand new condos in Little Italy ~ only a few short blocks from University Circle and its museums, the orchestra, and some wonderful possibilities for walking. Or even better ~ to a condo on the lake. (I'm sure those are priced well beyond our means. But the fantasy is a good one.)

If I find myself without employment this summer, I may make a dent in the two-year project.

Anyway, moving to a new blog is complicated, but there are no 20-year-old tax returns and children's artwork to discard. So I'm almost settled in over at


Come and visit!

If I can ever launch the new camera, I'll host a housewarming party.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vacation That Isn't

I don't think that a single day lies ahead in the next two weeks in which some form of scheduled interaction with someone is not required. A little much for this perceived-as-extrovert-but-not-one kind of person.

This morning I am headed out to meet with the friends with whom I used to spend every Saturday morning. That tradition broke down for me last fall when the rest of them decided to spend that time at a farmer's market and I decided that I needed to conserve my energy instead.

Tomorrow~ field ed church all morning and then the entire afternoon spent at my home church where a friend and I will be getting people started on our prayer retreat. We begin with a meeting of the spiritual directors, and then the retreatants will join us for orientation. Each of them has agreed to spend half an hour in contemplative prayer and half an hour meeting with a spiritual director over the next five days -- quite a venture for Presbyterians! My co-leader and I had hoped to be solely engaged in the organization of this one, but the numbers and schedules haven't worked out that way. It looks like I will be meeting with two people each evening, so in this case I am conserving mental energy ahead of time. It doesn't sound demanding, but listening attentively to someone and trying to follow her prayer life for several consecutive days is exhausting!

Monday ~ I am meeting with someone who is planning a year-long Ignatian retreat in everyday life. I am extremely excited about that, but it entails a huge commitment on both our parts. Four years ago I was in the middle of my own retreat, and I am still in awe that someone else who had multiple other responsibilities was willing to meet me at 8:00 in the morning once a week to accompany me through the Ignatian Exercises. That memory and the recognition of all that changed in my own life as a result help to propel me forward when my own phone rings.

And there is a sermon to plan for Thursday, and a huge paper to write. (I didn't realize just how huge until I started it last night.)

Well. I wanted to be a pastor and a spiritual director. Be careful what you wish for, right?

My camera and its various accoutrements is sitting here next to me on the bed as I type. I am going to start figuring it out later today, and I've started a new blog under my real name for the upcoming adventure. I have no idea what will happen to Search the Sea, but I think it's time for a different approach. If you are interested in joining me over there ~ so far a title is all that exists ~ email me at gannetgirlatsbcglobaldotnet.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Ignatian Exercises

Here's something pretty cool.

The Jesuit community at Georgetown University has created a series of videos to explain and comment on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. These gentlemen, from all over the place, are some of the heavy hitters in Ignatian spirituality ~ they are the ones whom the rest of us read and listen to as we learn to do spiritual direction.

The first speaker is noted European historian John O'Malley, S.J. When he talks about Ignatius working on the Exercises in his early life, he reminds me of the constant interplay of traditions n my own life: Ignatius was studying and writing in Paris at the same time that John Calvin was. There's no evidence that they met, but a few summers ago I certainly enjoyed walking the streets in the neighborhood they had walked and contemplating my multi-dimensional heritage. At the time, I was finishing the Exercises (with one of the Jesuits who's apparently going to speak in this series) and starting to imagine myself in seminary and in ministry.

As I watch this first video as I write, I'm thinking that Joseph Tetlow, S.J. is a little intimidating! I wonder whether I would have fallen in love with the Exercises if he had been the one to introduce them to me. It's true that it's quite a challenge to learn articulate your prayer life as you make your way through them, but it's a loving and generous experience, not a scary, intellectual one.

These presentations take a bit of stamina, but are well worth your time if you have any interest in Ignatian spirituality or spiritual direction.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I have been thinking about this problem of Lent. Like many of my sisters whose children have vanished from our lives, I don't see the need to "manufacture" a time of attentiveness to sorrow, to repentance, to sin, to error. I am very, very attentive to all of those things. I don't need a separate season in which to immerse myself in awareness and regret. I am consumed by them.

The word metanoia is the Greek word for repentance, for turning. In Hebrew, shuv means return. Return to me with your whole heart, says the prophet. Many sermons delivered during this time of year reflect upon one or both of those words.

What would I say, if I had to say something? Return is no longer in my vocabulary.


To something new?

Incline. Perhaps incline.

Incline implies a certain hesitance, a degree of fragility, an experimental move.


So here's the deal. I bought myself a Christmas present, an SLR digital camera with an extra (slightly) telephoto lens, and I took it to the Keys over Christmas, and The Quiet Husband ended up in the hospital, and so I know nothing at all about my new camera.

On Thursday I take my last final exam and then I have 18 days before I have to go back to school. I have a lot to do during those two weeks, including a paper in which I have to address some unintelligible material, but no long drives and a lot of the intensity of my life temporarily removed therefrom.

I am going to learn a little about my new camera during the first week, and I am going to take it with me for a couple of retreat days the second week, and I am going to start photographing the words metanoia and shuv.

I have absolutely no idea what means. But I don't think I can start to live them until I see them, really see them, in unexpected ways.


(Image: Twisted Oak by Tess Kohrnak, here. I tried google-imaging the word metanoia, and found nothing helpful, and then I tried the word twisted, and this is what I came up with. I don't mean twisted in a negative kind of way, but in a turned, inclined kind of way. I wonder what I will come up with for myself.)

Speaking Into The Void

A couple of the posters on the FB site Oh No, You Didn't -- Things Said to a Grieving Parent Better Left Unsaid have mentioned conversations with people whose children have died subsequent to the deaths of their own children and who have said, " I realize now that I had absolutely no idea what you were talking about."

In an odd way, that's a bit comforting. Or at least reassuring.

It's not particularly comforting to know that our words are incomprehensible.

But I have read a lot of words in the past week about Lent, about the need to enter deeply into our places of loss and grief, about our need to wander the desert.

Why would anyone want to do that, I wonder?

It's such a relief to realize that my own reaction of bewilderment comes from the parched and barren land to which I have unwillingly relocated, and that I do not need to go further, because I am already here.

Believe me. You do not actually want to come to this place.