Thoughts from a life full of all kinds of falls, and all kinds of grace.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Beyond the Gate
"Why must the gate be narrow? / Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened. / To come in among these trees you must leave behind / the six days' world, all of it, all of its plans and hopes. / You must come without weapon or tool, alone, / expecting nothing, remembering nothing, / into the ease of sight, the brotherhood of eye and leaf." --Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir
Berry is talking about Sabbath – true Sabbath.A concept I don’t know that I’ve ever managed to wholly understand or experience.There have been moments, days, that I’ve had glimpses.Overall, though, I resist it.Struggle to stay still even for the length of a movie because I think I should be ‘doing’ something.I haven’t done much research about Sabbath, though many of my clergy friends have.Seems to me that it’s about balance, the ever-elusive carrot I have been sprinting after for most of my life.There have been brief periods of time where I have come closer than others to some balance, some measure of rest, play and work that was healthy and good.But those periods are the exception.
I know I am doing the work I was made to do, the work I am continually being created to do with increased insight and skill as I stumble my way through it.I also know that I am meant to be Abigail’s Mama, even if it must be in a far more limited capacity than I had hoped and dreamed it would be.I am a loyal and loving friend to some of the most remarkable people I could imagine knowing (though I could do with at least a couple of my many-years-friends being in ‘let’s have dinner range’ – the consequence of pursuing the next best thing for my entire adult life, never staying anywhere longer than 4 years).And now I’m an aunt to beautiful little Zoe.It’s an incredible life, wonder-filled beyond anything I could have ever scripted in all the years I spent wanting to be someone, anyone else.In the last couple of years it’s been a gift to discover that I no longer want to be anyone else, that I haven’t for a long time, and that I actually like me, just the way I am.
Which is not to say that I no longer have any issues.Quite the opposite.The difference may be that I’m aware of most them.Aware enough to know, anyway, that there are probably more.I want to learn how to get beyond the gate.To let go of whatever burdens I may be carrying so I can become even more myself.I suspect if I can learn to do that, even a little at a time, that I will see more fully than I do now.The world will be even more remarkable, more painful, more beautiful.I know the world can be different than it is, that this little corner of the world I live in can be different – more whole and holy for every person who lives here, housed or not, sober or not, mentally well or not.But it also means the non-profit world, the advocacy world must also shift.Shift to a place where we do not run ourselves into the ground before we can finish the job.We’re really good at what we do, we’re smart, we’re compassionate.And we’re human, we need space to play, to rest and to work.
So, I think I might stay put for awhile.Put down my own roots in these mountains, mingling with the old and tenacious blood of my ancestors.Search – and find – a new and healthier way to do advocacy work.Have some fun. Try and change the world a little.Find the path that passes through the narrow gate.