Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Own Little Desert

Given the opportunity, I would almost always choose one of two activities early in the morning: a long walk through a world in which almost no one else is about, or sinking into a heap of pillows with a fleece blanket pulled around me for a good read in bed. Today I began with with the latter, starting Beldon Lane's The Solace of Fierce Landscapes for the second time through. It's a book that calls out to the interlocking textures of my own life, as he reckons with loss through the lenses of the contemporary desert of the American southwest, the ancient desert of the church fathers and mothers of Egypt, and the inner desert we all navigate, regardless of outer terrain.

Out of one desert experience and into another, and carrying a third around inside. Out of a first year of seminary, an experience that jolted me far from my comfort zone in ways I had not known to take into account a year ago. Into the experience of clinical pastoral education (hospital chaplaincy) that awaits me next week, one that I am assured will offer another detour from comfort. And inside, a life of prayer shaped by largely by the tradition of Ignatian spirituality and the Exercises, which I recently read described as "the Jesuits’ centuries-old secret weapon, their portable desert peopled with angels and demons."

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Realizing that the gutter guys might show up at any moment: a quick break for a shower and to empty and vacuum the car, which yesterday I filled with the clutter from my room at seminary and tomorrow will drive to Chicago. Unbelieveable as it seems to me at the moment, the Lovely Daughter is presumably somewhere over the Atlantic and will touch down on American soil tonight. Her brother will retrieve her from O'Hare and tomorrow I will be with them both! I haven't seen him in the months since Thanskgiving, which he has spent constucting his first version of an adult life, and I haven't seen her since she got on that plane in January for a semester that would land her an apartment in Prague and visits to seven (I think!) other countries.

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I had a plan for today. It involved sleep. But there is an online orientation for CPE that I have got to get to, a manuscript to read for a friend, a meeting at church this afternoon, a house in disarray, a daughter's room to prepare for a homecoming. And the gutter guys want to spend more money, so I guess I need to go out and win the lottery.

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All of it in the desert, which looks suspiciously like the suburbs. I am feeling wistful at having left my behind my new community at seminary, surprised to realize that I have made a life there, surprised by how many people there were to hug yesterday. I am a bit perplexed as I think about The Quiet Husband and I, re-making a life together here after nine months of my being more absent than present. I am apprehensive about CPE: me, the girl with early memories of a hospital room permeated by the staggering loss of a mother and brother.

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And I am grateful for those Jesuits, who have taught me that everything is prayer.



2 comments:

Carol said...

My gut tells me that those early hospital experiences will only enhance your skills and sensitivity in this upcoming experience.
Enjoy your homecoming both with the QH and with your children in Chicago.
The gutter guys will do what the gutter guys will do. And sadly, you have no choice on this one.

Lisa :-] said...

Wow! So much here...

1.) So nice that you'll be seeing lovely daughter and Chicago son soon. I can't imagine what it would be like to have kids and launch them out of the nest...

2.) I was going to say "good luck at the hospital" but that sounds so lame. I hope that you learn much, and grow more...

3.) Enjoy a walk or a blanket-wrapped read during your tiny vacation time. Enjoy your husband. And...have fun with the gutters...!