loneliness

Solo Vacations

It only took a day for me to find out, I don’t vacation well.

I make hasty decisions. When I think back to adult decisions I have made, I have never spent more than 5 minutes before I have said yes. I know I should be a better Christian and “pray about it”, but God gives me wisdom and a gut feeling. My move to Texas, my car, and currently this vacation were rall decisions I made in less than 30 minutes. Most times, it pans out. I have now been in Texas for 5 years. I love my car. Sometimes though it doesn’t. Chicago is a struggle.

I came to Chicago for a Christian conference. Yesterday, I made it through the first general session and workshop. I walked to find something to eat. I settled in at Gino’s East for my first deep dish experience. Before my first bite of doughy, cheesy, meaty goodness, exhaustion hit me. And months of feelings and fears began to surface. Fortunately, a friend called me. I cried. I tried not to, but my tears escaped me…little bandits.

This is not my first time vacationing alone. I have been to London, Spain, Colorado, Portland, and Seattle alone. I revel in those memories. Walking the streets of London in the middle of the night. Driving haphazardly to Seattle. Prayer walking with a faithful dog named Lazarus in Divide, Colorado. This is the first time, I have been lonely while vacationing. No one should eat deep dish pizza alone. I want to experience life with a person. After lunch, I resigned to my room. In the building across from mine, people were living and moving and dancing and jumping. I lay on my bed. I didn’t go back until the next general session. I did the same today.

The only difference between yesterday and today is this. Today, I acknowledge I have run, filling my life with work and school. God will find me in my quiet resignation. I am uncomfortable being here. I am scared being here. I don’t like my withdrawal, but I can’t muster the will to engage. Luckily, God has always found people in the most random places.

Find me in the cave

Find me at the well

Find me in the river

Find me in the jail

Life

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ embodies the conquering of death by the Source of Life. I believe this as truth. I believe that death has been conquered for me. So, that when my physical bodies withers, I am brought to real eternal life with God.

So, what do I do here? Suspended in a real (yet quasi) life experience that is riddled with death and all his friends. Where in the middle of loneliness there is a real sorrow. Where in the middle of sickness there is a real pain. Where in the middle of hatred there is a real violence. I don’t know. I don’t know. I take the cues of Christ and move towards the mess. Where there is sorrow, I mourn like Jesus with Mary. Where there is pain, I acknowledge someone is reaching out for a touch like Jesus and the woman with the issue of blood. Where there is violence, I bend down to the ground writing mysteries in the sand like Jesus on the Mount of Olives.

Last year around this time, I was very invested in modern liturgical practices. I came across meditative tracks, by a group called the Liturgists. There is a track on their Garden album titled Sunday. In this track, Rob Bell discusses the Resurrection how ultimately the moments of joy and life and laughter in this life point to the immense beauty and worship that will occur in eternal life. And that the sorrows and pain and violence are temporary.

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt the Resurrection and the Life. Hula hooping and eating chili with popsicle wine and bubbles reminds me of life. It was worshipful and beautiful. It was children running around throwing pillows. It was laughter and naps. The Resurrection allows me to take a simple meal on a simple weekend and call it holy. It allows me to reclaim something that feels secular and find how God can make it sacred.

Resurrection is Life, not only eternal life. Resurrection is the embracing life in the way Christ embraced life now and eternally.

Happy Holy Life Friends.

Merry and Bright

I took down the Christmas decorations on Christmas Eve. I was tired of pretending I cared for the holiday. I wanted my world to return back to normal. I don’t mind being by myself most days, but I don’t want reminders that I am by myself. And the Christmas tree and snowflakes and ornaments were taunting me. I hung them alone. I can take them down alone. This is my choice. I could join someone’s family for Christmas, but the idea of being an awkward addition to someone’s family makes me cringe. People inviting me to spend Christmas with their family is even worse. I’m not their family. They’re not my family.

People describe Christmas as being merry and bright. I just can’t, at least not this year. I don’t feel it, and I don’t want to. Reading through my personal journal, for the past six months, I have written about a pervasive sense of loneliness and sorrow and hidden weakness. Since, June all have increased to troubling levels. I am not myself. Actually, I am myself. I am myself, without God’s presence. Initially, I was periled, but I have recently leaned into embracing His absence. This is the reason, Christmas distresses me, because it is all about His presence.

What does one do, when the cheer and the merriment and the “all seems to say throw cares away” spirit is here, and you just can’t? You won’t. The best, I can do is remember the birth story. Not the pageant churches put on this year, but the real story. The story of Jesus being born amid a wide spread infanticide rivaling that of Pharaoh’s. The story of an old couple whose home was barren because they were childless. The story of two devout believers who prayed for decades and saw nothing. The story where a young teen is marred by her pregnancy out of wedlock and her fiance has to carry that shame with him. The story of a woman birthing a child in unsanitary conditions. The Christmas story does have merriment and brightness, but it is held in front of a backdrop of dark and shadow. What does this contrast mean? I think it means hope. Maybe my story, my willful absence of God, is a perfect scene for His presence to appear. I have chosen darkness. Maybe God will redeem (for His own glory) by sending light.

It's the creation story told once again. 

But did the darkness know Light was coming?

Did it scurry back to the recesses of the galaxies to prepare the way?

It's the creation story told once again. 

Can I hurry to the hidden places and embraces the shadows?

Will, I be recreated or dwell in obscurity?

Creation or Darkness

Incarnation or Humanity 

Anticipation or Anxiety