Wonderful Friday Five today! Here it is, from Singing Owl:
I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?
Obviously, the biggest fork in my road, ever, has been the sudden death of my son six months ago. But that horror of a life-changing event happened within a broad context of life, and it's that context that I want to focus on today. Herewith, five forks:
1. That first Brownie camera, received for my 9th birthday. I have experimented with photography off and on throughout my life, and it has played a big part in helping this cerebral, left-brained, language-oriented person become more attuned to how vast is the universe beyond words. I have noticed, in the six months since we lost our son, that despite the cascade of words that have come my way, most of the things which really speak to me are visual, either images themselves or words which create images.
2. The marriage. I have been married my entire adult life, since just before I turned 21. All of the things I have done as an adult have been within the confines and expansiveness of that relationship, meaning that, while sometimes my options have been limited, I have always been supported in decisions that are sometimes a little bizarre and more often than not seem to lead nowhere. I became a lawyer, a teacher, and now a seminary student, welcomed three children and said good-bye to one, all in the context of one marriage.
3. The venture into church, a Methodist church, in my late 20s. I simply woke up one morning and announced to the Quiet Husband that we needed to find a church. Who knew? In addition to serving as the foundation for a whole host of life choices, that church was the place in which we became part of a group of friends who have been family to one another for more than twenty years.
4. Great-horned owls. I first became interested in birding as a law student, when I read an article about a local guy studying and photographing nesting great-horned owls. Who could not fall in love with baby GHOs? That led to a decade-long volunteer relationship with the Museum of Natural History, my first experiences as a teacher, time up-close-and-personal with bald eagles and, most of all, a lifelong dedication to birds of all kinds.
5. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. After a couple of graduate courses on spirituality as expressed in literature, I signed up for a course on the Exercises and within a couple of weeks asked my professor whether he would guide me through them. With that low-key modesty characteristic of individuals of profound achievement, he simply said "Sure," never letting on, as he had not through three semesters of classes, that he is one of the giants of Ignatian interpretation. A year later, I was en route to seminary and to becoming a spiritual director myself, immersed in an experience and a tradition of prayer that have, quite simply, changed my entire being and course of life.
So that's it, five forks. All of them unexpected people, unexpected gifts.