September at last, and even after my promises to write and update more, especially after our fantastic getaway, I’ve continued to fail at that! Mea culpa.
The last six weeks have contained stresses and changes I couldn’t possibly have imagined. It’s strange, but around mid-July several areas of my life experienced a seismic shift, and I’ve been riding out the earthquake (or rather, the emotional roller coaster), ever since. I wish I could go into great detail…just spill all of it in its sticky, messiness for everyone to clutch their pearls at, but I can’t because the vast majority of it was related to work. The month has been full of drama, anxiety, fear, righteous indignation, anger…and fear of the unknown. Big changes came, big changes are still to come. Most of that has wound down, thank goodness, but the surprises somehow keep coming (at least three major ones this week alone), and I’ve felt sucker-punched, left to nurse wounds I didn’t see coming.
And there have been changes in thinking and attitude in other areas of my life as well, still too new and early to discuss, but affecting my daily life in the extreme. Husband started his last semester of grad school two weeks ago, and that reality—that it will all be over soon, that the “real life” we have been waiting for the last thirty-two years is fast approaching—is daunting to us both. We’re anticipating and coping in our own unique ways, but it’s odd because neither of us expected to feel anything except grateful elation. Now, we feel a swirling mix of emotions, and it’s by turns alarming and confusing. I cried at work every day this week, for one reason or another. I’m not depressed or even terribly distraught, but I feel like Bilbo when he told Gandalf that he feels like butter scraped over too much bread. “I feel thin.” It’s ok, though. It’s a weird season of life, and we are muddling through as best we can.
I am so grateful it is September, that the chill of autumn will eventually steal over us, so I can take comfort once again in things like easy chairs, books I’ve read a thousand times, warming spices, and the mystery of the season. There is nothing mysterious or comforting about a sticky August afternoon. But until that autumnal chill does steal over us (not bound happen until late October at least), we still have weekends at the Yuba, summer evenings enjoying good meals on my parent’s deck, heirloom tomato salad and peach pie. And that’s enough to be getting on with, and to be grateful for.
The scandals that have been brought to light within the Catholic Church these last few weeks have rocked the Catholic world. They’ve contributed greatly to the confusion Husband and I (and other family members) are now experiencing. I’ve never seen the Catholic community so enraged, so bereaved, so divided, and in other respects so united. Some are defiant, resolutely fighting this evil and corruption from within their parishes and dioceses, and some are prostrate with grief, seeming to have lost all hope. To a person, we are shaken. The political backlash of the recent allegations against Pope Francis by Archbishop Vigano has become, it appears, a flash point for self-described “liberal” and “conservative” Catholics to further distance themselves from one another, to in-fight and erode unity. While the horrendous grand jury report in Pennsylvania resulted in a rare unity between these factions, the arrows aimed at Francis have destabilized any tentative peace between the two. I’ve never seen anything like it. No one has. It is alarming, frustrating and so, so painful. I can add my name to letters addressed to the Holy Father on behalf of women in the church, I can write letters to my Archbishop. I can duck my head and hide, engage in a little of Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option,” choosing to remove myself as a visible Catholic from the greater society. I can hunker down, and ride out this storm. I’m not leaving. The Church isn’t the ecclesiastical bodies. No amount of human sin or human evil can touch the Communion of Saints, or the Eucharist, or Our Lady, or anything that bears spiritual truth. Where would I go? There is no where else to go. We are stranded, and betrayed. We solider on.
Now for the good news—last week I peaked at seventeen pounds lost! My goal for the year was twenty, and I’m thrilled. I’ve since gained back three or four, so it’s still “two steps forward, one step back.” But I’m very pleased and proud, and I’m beginning to have confidence that I haven’t had in many, many years. I’ve cultivated discipline I’ve never had before. Related to this is a fun new thing in my life—I’ve started taking Brazilian jiu jitsu three times a week, which has been such a lifeline for me, I honestly can’t say enough about it. It’s so strange because I’ve never done martial arts of any kind in my life, and never had the desire to. But one morning several weeks ago, I woke up and just knew I HAD to start taking jiu jitsu. It drew me to it like a magnet, having known nothing about it. It is soothing my soul and my monkey mind in ways I didn’t know I needed, and now feel I couldn’t live without. It hurts, and it’s exhausting, and it realigns all the disjointed things within me. I have been welcomed into the family-like fold of it, encouraged, challenged, supported like never before. It was pure grace, and I am drinking it in, thirsty for what it offers.
Soon, it will be time for pie. I fondly remember baking pie after pie in wonderful Mama-in-Law’s kitchen last November, wanting to keep creating things that would nourish the souls of my loved ones…and she, in her ever-patient indulgence, encouraged me and praised me, and I couldn’t have felt more loved. Soon it will be time for pie, time for smokey lapsang souchong tea, time for October evenings. For now, we have September evenings. I have no idea what they’ll bring us. If they are anything like the last six weeks, they’ll bring surprise after surprise, and no measure of rest for the emotionally weary. That’s ok. Change is progress, and we’re holding on with love, support, discipline and hope.
Wishing you all a wonderful September.