This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, January 14, 2022
This week has been an extended lesson in practicing what I preach, in a much more heightened way than usual. I could say the same about last week, too, and a couple before that. The long but short explanation is that physical realities (no, not COVID, although that booster packed a blessed punch) and emotional overload have been piling up. Inevitably, eventually, they left me to make hard decisions about what I could and could not do. My heart is so very, very aware of the ways that too many of you are working through that same kind of space. For too many of you, your worries are beyond my imagining. As far as how things played out here, quite regrettably you felt some of that cumulative fallout, with last Sunday’s abrupt service cancellation. More explanation follows but suffice to say it called forth some hard spiritual work on practicing self-compassion. There are other lessons, too, but that was the primary.
I’m not trying to go all melancholy on you. That’s certainly not how I’d describe myself. In many respects, in many spaces of responsibility and opportunity, our life is joyful, truly happy. I have many pinch-me moments where I can honestly say I’m living the dream. I also say that humbly, remembering how sarcastically, understandably, that little phrase was offered back to me the other day, when I asked an overworked, underpaid retail worker how she was. I appreciated her honesty, painful as it was to hear her exhaustion.
All that said, the last few weeks have felt unusually hard around our home. There’s the long unfolding of this pandemic, borne by everyone in their own way, and then there’s a long pressing-in underway, in this family context: a pressing-in of difficult life changes; an accumulation of time and disease and circumstances, borne with great courage by our incredible parents, and even our beloved elderly cat. Michael and I are in a stage of deep accompaniment, with a few long goodbyes unfolding simultaneously. It is holy ground, yes, and part of mortal being, but it is also weighty when it comes in concentrated doses.
And so, it was no wonder that after going too long with too little investment on unpacking my worries or choosing self-care, my body grew tired of waiting. Late last Saturday, a migraine of unprecedented intensity settled in without the usual warning signs, defying all usual coping means and meds. I was left with a sleepless night, reckoning with pain of all sorts, as well as all the things I often ask of you: to remember who you are and whose you are; to remember and dwell in God’s Love without limits, especially in those times and spaces beyond control. If ever you wondered, I too am very much a work in progress.
The week that’s followed has been intentionally quiet, accepting loads of rest, while easing back into screen time and regular lighting. The list of overdue phone calls and email is long, but I know that will come in time, too. Thank you for your gifts of patience, space, and compassion, to be my human self.
Thank you, too, for unknowingly coming along for the ride on my time machine. That is to say, when you tune in this Sunday morning, it may seem like liturgical time has frozen a bit. I’ve kept aside the same outfit I had chosen for last Sunday morning (you wouldn’t have known otherwise but anyway…); and I have asked the worship team for a bit of a take two, to hold steady on where we would have been last Sunday. It’s an unusual request, I know, but for reasons I will explain someday, I am particularly keen to celebrate with you, marking Epiphany, the Baptism of Jesus, and Communion. I know that’s part of why last week’s timing felt so crummy. After a post-Christmas week off, it already felt like so long since I’d been with any of you. It’s already felt like a thousand years since I’ve been able to be present with any of you, but that’s another COVID weary story.
For now, I choose, like my mother and father, to cling to gratitude. When far too much is changing and shifting, there is nothing more grounding than saying, with equal awareness, that God’s Love will not budge. All these Love-filled moments of this season – critical moments in Jesus’ story, of identity and naming, of being known and claimed – they belong to us, too. Incarnational theology holds fast, every day of every year, inviting us into that sacred space, where we are held through all of our greatest fears. We are released by that Love, too. We are released back into our full, beautiful, complicated selves, and invited to dance even as we weep, in all kinds of Christ-light glory.
With abiding love to you all,
“The incarnation was a brilliant move. For what infant holds any delusion about its own omnipotence? We’ve been trying to learn from that particular gift of vulnerability ever since, which is why we need Christmas all over again.”
(Peter W. Marty, “Playing God”, ‘The Christian Century’, December 15, 2021)