Sunday, January 5, 2014

Once More Unto the Breach

It has been a very long time since I've publicly blogged. And I guess with the passage of time the desire (need?) has grown. Sometimes I wonder what the point is... Is it ego? Is it rambling? Is it genuine desire to share a perspective and invite dialogue? A desire to lay down publicly the goings-on of my existence? A diary/journal/spiritual expression? A desire to recover something that isn't limited to a 140 character Twitter soundbite? Perhaps all this and more. So, here I am back...

Since I last wrote here over three years ago much has changed in my daily goings-on. At our parish we closed our school. We lost a pastor. We gained a pastor. We gained a sister parish. We lost a pastor. We gained a pastor. Significant upheaval in the parish life of two communities in a short period of time.

Perhaps the upheaval nudged me to look more intentionally at my own life. I have rekindled and reassessed some relationships, finding healing and hope in unexpected places, love and care in people I've opened myself to. I have adjusted my approach to other relationships, taking to heart the old adage "You can't change other people - you can only change yourself." My grandmother passed away last year - it's been an odd adjustment realizing someone that was a part of my life for nearly 55 years is gone. A piece of that adjustment has been gratitude for the blessing of that presence for so very long, coupled with the understanding she really isn't gone at all. And I lost a dear friend that informed so much of my thinking on what it means to be a person of justice and peace in our world. It has indeed been a time of significant change and transition. The kind of change that I think would send many screaming "STOP - I've had enough!" And the changes continue...

Sounds dire, eh? Not so much. Change is a funny thing. We can run screaming from it. We can cross our arms across our chests and defiantly resist it. We can endure it. Or we can embrace it. And grow. And quite honestly as much as I would like to believe (and have others believe) I'm all about embracing it and growing, like the stages of grief I have moved through the stages of change forward and back and around and back again. In and out of the tunnel, through darkness and light. Seasons change. Reality changes. It's not easy. It's not always pleasant. And there are many temptations that come along that look as though they are an easy way out. A way to recover a level of comfort. A way to return to something - an idea, a culture, a reality - that just doesn't exist any longer. But the growth... well, the potential there is immeasurable.

I've worked very hard to embrace the changes. It has led me at times to question myself. Who am I really? Others questioned as well. Much more concerned than in a complimentary way. "You're different." "What happened to you?" And it has pushed me to consider who or what is my "authentic self"... who do I allow into my comfort zone? How many layers am I willing to peel back?

Change has forced me to grow in ways I never imagined, forced me to think outside the box, encouraged me to be an agent of possibility rather than an agent of resistance. This is a good thing. When we embrace the challenges, the hurts, the various negative impulses that impact our lives we can create context for light in our darkness. As Henri Nouwen wrote, "When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope."

Signs of hope. In recent months I have made it my goal to not just seek out signs of hope, but recognize them. In people. In events. In the world. Seek out and spend time with those that inspire and energize me. And accept those that struggle - as we all do - and seek to understand the "Whys" of behavior rather than focus on the results of actions.

So here we go, once more unto the breach, dear friends...

2 comments:

inspirited said...

This is great, Wayne. Thanks for your sharing. I look forward to reading more. Of COURSE, (you know me!), you made me think of a book: Biblical Foundations of Spirituality: Touching a Finger to the Flame. Here's a quote from the intro: "It's not until you have touched your finger to the flame that you can know the real meaning of the candle." The book - published in 2003 - is by Barbara E. Bowe, a scripture prof at CTU I had the pleasure to know, who unfortunately died of brain cancer within a couple years of my departure. Barbara begins by basically saying in this way that we cannot really KNOW unless we are genuinely encountering. I'd add, and that means some burning. Your blog entry is striking because it rings with the genuineness of someone who is encountering life by such a touching finger to the flame... is vulnerable to it. Thanks for your courage on your journey, and for expressing it here. Peace in 2014!

Wayne Hipley said...

Jo, thank you so much - you have always been so supportive and affirming! And would you believe I picked up Bowe's book about six weeks ago? I just haven't cracked it yet - now it'll bump up on my reading list. Somewhere in my travels it popped up (probably on my Amazon "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..." list). The title alone resonated!

I have always been most appreciative of your guidance when it comes to books. With all the focus in recent months on the New Evangelization and discipleship my go-to book I've been recommending to others is Gittin's "A Presence that Disturbs" - another great "Book Lady" recommendation! :-)