Transitioning

Transitioning.

Somehow this Thanksgiving I found myself encapsulated in some sort of selfdom. Hard to describe and not very comfortable. My son appears to be fully incorporated into his girlfriend’s life and family, my brother and his family each have their own aspects to life and yet I am outside of things. If there are any conflicts, issues or discrepancies I am outside of them. Consequently I am also outside of their joys, celebrations and warmth. How did this happen?

I was raised by a kind of distant yet demanding father. It was not until very late in his life did I feel he actually needed or wanted any love I had for him. It was an odd thing but happy nonetheless.

This is different. As though I have spun off the orbit of their lives. Maybe this is what happens when a child (having grown to adult) chooses the life they prefer to live. It’s good I think to understand this. So much of my life I bounced off walls and doorways trying to find my way until I actually saw myself as I was and could then better adapt and change. Until that happens no one can make any kind of progress. They just stay in their own space, spinning and spinning, wasting time and energy until the light dawns and they are able to see themselves for who they are, what they have been and where they are. How they got there isn’t important, blackouts happen whether you drink or not. The important thing is to get your bearings, find your course and steer for it. It’s good to include others with this voyage but sometimes a lot of it is solo. And it is gradual.

The hardest thing, I think, is to see what God did for us in Jesus Christ. We selfish humans cannot fathom such love as someone wanting us so badly to be free of anything that encumbers our spirit that he would assume the responsibility and pay the penalty.Somehow God can do this for us but we cannot do it for others. Frederick Buechner says this far better than I in his book, Wishful Thinking, then again in Beyond Words:

“What is new about the New Covenant, therefore, is not the idea that God loves the world enough to bleed for it, but the claim that here he is actually putting his money where his mouth is. Like a father saying about his sick child, ‘I’d do anything to make you well,’ God finally calls his own bluff and does it. Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross where God did it is the central symbol of New Covenant faith. So what? Does the suffering of the father for the sick child make the sick child well? In the last analysis, we each have to answer for ourselves.”

Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, by Buechner, Frederick. Harper & Row, Publishers, (c) 1973. Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith, by Frederick Buechner. Harper San Francisco, Publishers (c) 2004

Transitioning

Somehow this Thanksgiving I found myself encapsulated in some sort of selfdom. Hard to describe and not very comfortable. My son appears to be fully incorporated into his girlfriend’s life and family, my brother and his family each have their own aspects to life and yet I am outside of things. If there are any conflicts, issues or discrepancies I am outside of them. Consequently I am also outside of their joys, celebrations and warmth. How did this happen?

I was raised by a kind of distant yet demanding father. It was not until very late in his life did I feel he actually needed or wanted any love I had for him. It was an odd thing but happy nonetheless.

This is different. As though I have spun off the orbit of their lives. Maybe this is what happens when a child (having grown to adult) chooses the life they prefer to live. It’s good I think to understand this. So much of my life I bounced off walls and doorways trying to find my way until I actually saw myself as I was and could then better adapt and change. Until that happens no one can make any kind of progress. They just stay in their own space, spinning and spinning, wasting time and energy until the light dawns and they are able to see themselves for who they are, what they have been and where they are. How they got there isn’t important, blackouts happen whether you drink or not. The important thing is to get your bearings, find your course and steer for it. It’s good to include others with you on this voyage but sometimes a lot of it is solo. And it is gradual.

The hardest thing, I think, is to see what God did for us in Jesus Christ. We selfish humans cannot fathom such love as someone wanting us so badly to be free of anything that encumbers our spirit that he would assume the responsibility and pay the penalty.Somehow God can do this for us but we cannot do it for others or ourselves. Frederick Buechner says this far better than I in his book, Wishful Thinking, then again in Beyond Words: 

“What is new about the New Covenant, therefore, is not the idea that God loves the world enough to bleed for it, but the claim that here he is actually putting his money where his mouth is. Like a father saying about his sick child, ‘I’d do anything to make you well,’ God finally calls his own bluff and does it. Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross where God did it is the central symbol of New Covenant faith. So what? Does the suffering of the father for the sick child make the sick child well? In the last analysis, we each have to answer for ourselves.”

Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, by Buechner, Frederick. Harper & Row, Publishers, (c) 1973. Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith, by Frederick Buechner. Harper San Francisco, Publishers (c) 2004

In-laws

Now, here is a touchy subject. Or not if you are one of those blessed with families who are determined to be supportive, encouraging, friendly and in strong hope of a well-nurtured union. I don’t even have them (anymore) having been divorced for over 30 years. It’s not so much a toss-up, in the cards, luck of the draw, or any of those other mild-mannered excuses. It’s hard work! My own parents wanted to be ‘good’ in-laws but still wanted to have their daughter. Suffice to say it’s not enough to abide by the old adage, “A son’s a son till he takes a wife but a daughter’s a daughter for the rest of her life”. We all need our parents, some more than others, in very different ways and for many reasons. And these change over the years as we ourselves change. (I nearly fell over when my ex-mother-in-law offered to and did pay for my son’s college tuition. I never saw that coming and am still grateful to her and have told her so.) Even so, the so-called extended family needs to understand that at times that extension does not include many dispensations or opportunities. Some traditions need to if not stop at least be tweaked a bit to allow for the traditions of the new couple and family. Grace must abound, and tongues ought to be held or tempers rise and occasionally flame into if not conflagrations certainly destruction. Yes, there is such a thing as creative destruction but that is commonly used in business, not a marriage. If love isn’t the central force and motivator in a family it becomes choked, starved, sterile. It can be restored and healing can take place but only when everyone is a player and takes part in the healing. There need to be ground rules, thought processes may need to be elaborated, understanding needs to be clarified.

And no one can do anyone else’s part. It is all for one, one for all.

Thoughts

Raising children is exhausting especially if you do it alone. My son often asked how old I was, a question I artfully evaded for years. After a particularly trying day he asked again. “112,” I told him. He said nothing. Maybe he believed me. Maybe he weighed the importance of this vast number– was I about to die? was I immortal?? I will never know what went through his remarkable mind at that moment, but I know I wondered whether or not I felt that old. I know that, no matter how many years I may live mentally I still feel as I did when I was 17. That was the best year of my life– I earned my driver’s license, I went to a new high school where I really flourished academically and socially, I was very active, my parents actually honored my decisions (or they didn’t care), but I felt truly independent and good about myself. At least I don’t feel 112 anymore but nearing 60 I am still running 2-3 miles everyday with my dog, gardening, reading, trying to figure out how to be assertive without aggression, how to be unobtrusive yet still have all I need and maybe some of what I want, live modestly and save a little at the same time, fight for truth and balance in politics and life. And eat well while still enjoying food that tastes good and maybe isn’t all that good for me yet not gain weight These are not lofty goals but what makes my life as it is now.