"We must be willing
to get rid of the life we've planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
The old skin has to be shed
before the new one can come."
~ Joseph Campbell
The days are growing shorter, the nights longer. Can you feel it? The second-hand continues to pace itself toward what is coming next. Gotta say, I am one worn-out traveler. Journeying with grief this holiday season is a weary-making time. As the light grows shorter and I feel darkness lengthening, I try to remind myself of a bigger story. I want to not lose sight of a greater love holding me, guiding me on to what is surely coming.
It’s been a full weekend with lots of music and gatherings. Our church choir gave our annual Christmas Concert with the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra. We rehearsed a couple times last week, again on Saturday and performed yesterday afternoon. Fullness. Beauty. Light. Harmonies. Kids' voices. Grace heard round and back again. The orchestra was incredible. And (with a some very fine ringers) the choir did just fine. Gatherings with friends around the holidays happened this weekend as well. Included in that was a house blessing for two dear souls who have been displaced this past year. It was such a joy to bless their place with great food, prayers and laughter. There is so very much to be thankful for.
Perhaps this weekend’s biggest gift was feeling my soul’s deep appreciation for the kindnesses that continue in the midst and mess of grief. As deep and present as my pain is, so is the love of family – given and chosen. Pastor David spoke this morning about the Incarnational Love that comes in this season. Human touch – hugs, hands holding on, arms locking. Human sounds – laughter and words of affirmation; oboes and tympani drums, altos and basses – surrounding and lifting up. Human grace – looking into the eyes of another who is listening with her heart, a dear one picking up the check after sharing a meal, words of wisdom and sometimes no words at all.
It’s important not to miss the kindness and love that journeys with us. Weary, worn, unsteady on where to head next – all those are still true. And yet, and yet there is more to me and this time than just that. Grace finds me / finds us.
Joseph Campbell’s words surely ring true. Life shifts and buckles and gets undone. When setting out for Bethlehem a couple weeks ago, I knew to be mindful of those who would be sharing the journey, mindful of those loving me from afar. In many ways, my grief is my own. Yours as well. And yet this weekend I was reminded that my grief is not all of my life. Campbell says there is life “waiting for us.” I sure hope so. If I stay in this one spot and only notice my weariness and my pain, I will miss out on the love that is right here with me as well. It truly is about shredding what waswith a hope and a prayer for the new skin that just might fit me better.