One of the wiser things I've read in the past weeks suggests permitting yourself to take a break from grief, noting that we takes breaks from everything else and we need to get away from grieving on occasion, too. True enough. At various points in my working and student life, when the onslaught of expectations has seemed overwhelming, I've made detailed calendars in an effort to find some solace in the light at the end of the tunnel. Only on rare occasions have those calendars, identifying multiple tasks to be accomplished in every part of every day, represented a span as long as fourteen consecutive days in duration. This time, there will never be a light at the end of the tunnel, and we have put only fifty-one days behind us. Fifty-one days of unremitting pain.
So, I am going to take a little break, which I am sure will unleash sighs of relief among my readers. It won't be a 100% break - not matter what I say or do, whom I encounter, or how I pass my time, there is only one underlying reality, and it has a way of popping up. But I will try to limit it to those natural appearances.
And so ~
One of my frustrations with blogger has been the impossibility of posting BIG PICTURES, which were so much fun during my AOL Journal days. I'm not much of a technie, and I've never been able to figure out how to do it over here. But with the imminent demise of AOL Journals, a number of bloggers have made their way over here, and one of them, to my delight, is my former mentor and technophile buddy, Sunflower Kat of Walk with Me. Her photography is often wondrous, and in no time flat she mastered the BIG PICTURE blogger conundrum. I have her instructions, I have her email, and I have 100 photographs from Oregon. So I'm going to play around for a few days and try to enjoy myself a little. There won't be much writing, and what there is will still reflect the sense of loss that never recedes, but I'm hoping that some of the images will work out.
In the category of Life Goes On, Gregarious Son and I voted today. With about 75 people ahead of us (lunchtime at the downtown Board of Elections), it took about half an hour, but that was about half the time it took four years ago at our local polling place, the church on the corner, at 7:00 am with maybe 15 people in line. The poll workers were gracious and efficient, the voters were relaxed and even jovial, and it has now been my pleasure to cast two historic votes this year.
I went back to my spiritual direction training program this week. It only meets once a month this year, so I have an idea that it might be manageable. It was an extremely difficult few hours, with a couple of conversations that nearly sent me over the edge, but I had done the reading and written the paper and I did not start to cry and I did not need to excuse myself. I also signed up for seminary classes, only because this is the week that that had to be done. I have no idea what, if anything, is possible there. Emails from professors have been generous and encouraging, but due to the quarter system, the unfortunate reality is that those classes begin in only six weeks and the first weeks lie right between Thanksgiving and Christmas, two holidays I would just as soon not acknowledge this year. Or maybe ever. (Yes, somewhat problematic in ministry.) I will probably return for the first week of classes and see how it goes. I am not overly optimistic and I know that my life has changed in ways that are not remotely apparent to me yet. We'll see.
And, finally ~
In an effort to be positive rather than negative, I have some advice about what to say to the newly bereaved when you run into us, rather than what not so say. (Oh, that second list lengthens every day!) It's pretty simple. "How is your morning/afternoon/evening going?" If I think that you care enough to ask a specific question and I think that you might actually be interested, I might be able to respond with something equally specific, and it will be a big help to me. And if all I can manage is, "Really sh--ty," that's a big help to me, too. Just so you know.
So ~ some messing around on the blog and maybe some BIG PICTURES coming up soon.