Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Five Ws

Remember learning the five Ws in elementary school? Who? What? Where? When? Why? And then sooner or later a teacher would add How? to the list, destroying whatever incipient leanings toward alliterative skill you might be developing.

Perhaps those words still constitute the basis of a decent story. I've been looking over some of the blogs I read, and I see that people are beginning the end of the year routines, looking back and looking forward. I have no idea how to do that this year. I don't know whether I will ever know how to do it again. I have no sense of the who-what-where-when-why-and-how of my life. They all run into and pour over one another, and there are holes where smooth transitions should be. I can't make an intelligible narrative out of my life.

The death of a child is so disorienting, so destructive of all that has been and might have been expected, that end-of-year reflections and new-year resolutions seem ludicrous, at best. My life is an odd and confusing mixture of before and after. I still have two beautiful, loving, living children, badly bruised but nevertheless lights of hope in my life. I have returned to my classes and been invited to participate in events that matter to me, and I am proceeding in the ways that I can. I sense that my priorities are shifting in drastic and unpredictable ways, and that perhaps my sense of what matters and what doesn't is being refined in a manner that will enable me to focus the rest of my life in meaningful ways. I struggle mightily to come anywhere close to what six months ago I might have regarded as a reasonable day's work, and I still find large group interaction oppressive and unmanageable, but at least now I want to be part of things again. The letters and cards I receive almost daily remind me that I am surrounded by extraordinarily kind and giving people, people who in this most un-ordinary of times have risen to exceptional levels of generosity and sacrifice.

I suppose that, in the end, the narrative will be about that irritating sixth word, that How? How do you navigate a life that in the course of one phone call was transformed from still water into tsunami ? How do you start all over and create life out of dust and ash?

Some months before our son died, I had begun to wonder whether Search the Sea had run its course. The insistent sense of "search" seemed to have faded and been replaced by a sense of assurance that I was indeed launched into the channel that I would follow for what I hoped would be many, many years. I didn't expect it to be without twists and turns, and I knew that sometimes it would be glassy and smooth and sometimes more akin to the perfect storm, but I was confident in the way itself.

Now: Who knows? Not me.

I don't know whether many people read my Advent blog, but tomorrow I am starting a new one for this next year. I'll keep Search the Sea for now, but I'm going to write about the difficult stuff, to the extent that I can, over at Desert Year. I'll cross-post when it seems appropriate, and maybe everything will end up there eventually. Chalk it up to a life too fragmented for me to comprehend or weld into coherence, at least for the present.


















16 comments:

Purple said...

It seems there are tiny little steps being taken...maybe not every day or even every week...but I do see signs of that. I will follow those steps over at your new blog.

mompriest said...

GG: The desert is a barren place, prickly and dangerous. But it is also beautiful in the most surprising ways. Flowers bloom most of the year - who would have thought that these bright colors (purples, fushia, orange!) in an otherwise monotone landscape could be so hardy and persistant? The desert is not a place for the weak or faint-hearted. It is a place of hope and grace in spite of everything that would point otherwise.

May this year be one in which you find those flowers of grace and hope as you navigate the rocky dry terrain.

Joan Calvin said...

Hugs

RevDrKate said...

Dear one....wherever you write, whatever you write....I will be so happy to read it. Prayers and blessings...and...hope.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Forgive me, I'm doin' drive bys today because I overslept and have another cheesecake to make.

Sending you many hugs and prayers and wishes for the New Year.

Love,
PG

Cynthia said...

Wordless but here and in your Desert Place as well.

Magdalene6127 said...

We'll be there. And here.

Stratoz said...

a song has been in my head for a few days, if the past and future are too much than be where you and I are... in the present moment, and in that moment I do believe that ecstasy has a hold on all of us. just keep wondering where those lions are... wondering where those lions are... stop over for a listen.

Kathryn said...

Whenver anyone has asked me, today, to reflect on the year that has passed you have been so hugely present in my thoughts.
There's nothing to be said as you move from one year to the next, but you know that you have the love and prayers of so many of us. God bless, GG

Kathryn J said...

The desert is where people went to fast and pray in biblical times. It can be a desolate wasteland but, as mompriest pointed out, it is also a place of great beauty.

You know I'll be there with you as best I can. I mostly kept up with Praying Advent but my Advent was crazy too - just in different ways. The lack of reflection in my recent life means that I also lack year-end thoughts either forward- or backward-looking.

The pictures of Key West are beautiful. You are in my thoughts.

Paul said...

Frost knew about desert places...

"I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express."

Lisa :-] said...

With you on your journey, whether searching the sea or inhabiting the desert...

Carol said...

With you in spirit now and as you continue this journey, by the sea and in the desert.

sunflowerkat321 said...

Walking with you, wherever you go.

And listening....

{{{{{BIG LOVE}}}}}

Diane said...

((GG)) -- we are with you, wherever you are.

Rev SS said...

Mompriest said it so beautifully .. I continue to hold you in prayer, and will continue reading here, and the new blog.