People say your twenties can be a period of intense growth. You're constantly changing. Your personality is beginning to solidify. You're building significant relationships. Perhaps most importantly, you are making a myriad of mistakes - big ones. While I often like to think I'm special, this was one instance in which I was just like everyone else.
...The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
However, another rope has been lowered in front of me via therapy and residency, slowly and over several months. It's a rope made up of my strength and courage and resilience, of my worthiness of love and affection, of my ability to meet my own needs or to have them met by others around me. It's made up of my okay-ness when a relationship ends or transitions into something else.
When I woke up this morning bright and early, I thought almost immediately about writing. And for whatever reason, the title above came to mind. It wasn't until after my morning caffeine that I realized why: I'm not crashing anymore. I thought, though, that I was going to be writing about strength or resilience or courage. As I searched for quotes (see, now you know my writing process), nothing that came up for those words resonated with me. Then another word came to mind: contentment. It would seem that my mental image of flying is less about strength or resilience and more about the contentment that comes with being where you are.
Feeling drawn in by a person's smile or eyes or affinity for dark chocolate or knowledge of Natalie Weiss doesn't make us best friends.
It doesn't make up for the time it takes to find yourself on the other's couch crying silently when there aren't words to describe your sadness.
It doesn't account for having those knock down, drag out fights where you both scream and say mean things and have to learn to forgive.
It doesn't mean that you like each other, much less that you love each other.
It doesn't mean you know each other.
It feels weird to have made a decision, to have my future more planned out than I imagined it would be this early in the game. Yet at the same time, I am truly excited for the possibilities this adventure has in store. I am thrilled to be settling into my newfound love for professional chaplaincy, even if I don't fully know what that means for me. Day after day, I seem to receive signs (or at least nods from the universe) that this is my path, my passion, my calling, and my identity.
Talking with a friend (and professor) the other day about grief, I realized that part of my own unfinished grief has to do with the remaining desire to be straight. To fall in love with a woman. To not cringe (or feel nauseated) at the idea of being intimate with her. I wonder what it would have been like had things turned out differently, but some questions never get answers. Some fantasies never become reality. Some hopes never stand a chance.
I've been plagiarizing my prayers for a while now, taking a little from here, a little from there. I purchased Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. I found the knotted-twine Anglican rosary given to me by my in-laws and found a series of prayers to accompany them. My friend Abe loaned me his copy of Book of Hours by Thomas Merton. At first I felt bad about this, but then I realized something...
Love of our neighbor presupposes love of ourselves. We cannot love other people if we do not love ourselves. But we cannot love ourselves if we do not want to be ourselves, but want to be someone else. 'Self'-less love in the literal sense is no love at all, for it has no subject. Self-love is the strength to love our neighbor. Self-love is the foundation for a free life.
We live in a world that is constantly changing, and not always for good. But the reality, the inevitability of change, gives me hope that someday, our world can be transformed into what it can be, what it should be, and what it needs to be for us to see God's kindom fulfilled and made wholly manifest. I want to be a part of change, not just sit by and watch it walk past me unnoticed. I want to facilitate it, and I recognize my inability to do this alone. We need change. Our world needs change. We need each other to make it happen.