Monthly Archives: January 2013

Missing

A while back, I wrote a bit about my journey out of faith. It was a hard piece for me to write, and even harder for me to share. But it isn’t the end of the story. Nor is it the beginning. It’s not the entire story at all, and I’m sure it is something I will visit again and again. I’m trying to get it all straight in my head, and it’s hard.

There are things I don’t miss about the world of faith. I don’t miss the hypocrisy, or the gossip. I don’t miss feeling like I was always on the outside looking in, or the subtle social hierarchy that left me out of many conversations and connections. But I don’t want to dwell on that, not today.

I want to dwell instead on the good things, the things I miss.

The smell and feel of an empty church building, before the crowds, before the music. It is very similar to the feel of an empty store, before the sales associates and customers come in for the day. The prism of light through the stained-glass windows on a sunny day. The gleaming pews and smell of wax and wood polish. A building that sees large gatherings of people has a sense of anticipation in its emptiness. You can feel the building breathing, waiting. Often, Husband and I were the first ones in the building. I would start setting up coffee for the morning Bible Study, and he would set up the sound booth and microphones. Our son would play in the nursery. We would prop the door open, and keep an ear out for problems.

I miss the feeling of people gathered together for a common purpose. I miss the sound of voices raised together in worship. I miss the feeling of something very important about to happen. I miss Bible Studies, and mining the Bible for truths and insights. I miss my faithful little group of ladies, and in my loss of faith I somehow feel I’ve let them down. I miss the friends I had there, their smiles and love and laughter. I miss the children I’ve known since babyhood.

I miss Christmas in a church. I miss the candles and the huge trees on the altar, and the carols instead of the regular hymns. I miss the sense of expectation, of waiting for the infant Savior. I miss the candlelight Christmas Eve service, when the darkened sanctuary slowly lit up, one candle at a time, until the room was full of people holding glowing candles, singing Silent Night.

But, I can’t think of any of these things without thinking of the things I don’t miss. I cannot make myself miss them enough to want to go back and try again.

Because, I can no longer reconcile the things I miss with the things I don’t miss. The good things no longer make a strong enough case for me. And it’s sad. It’s a hard, lonely truth.

But it’s my truth, and I feel it’s an important one. Important enough to dig it out, and examine it. Important enough to write about it – and I’ve realized I am writing authentically for the first time in years. I missed my writing, and the ability to write seemed to fade in the years I believed. Admitting my lack of faith has brought my words back, and you cannot convince me the two are not related.

I believe this hard and painful truth is important enough to share with others.

And so, there will be more words. Because I don’t want to keep them in. And they don’t want to stay shut away, anyhow.

 

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My type of boys

I’m not a gamer, but I speak the language very well. My very first boyfriend, when I was 14, was a gamer. The boy I dated for a few months in high school was a gamer. My first girlfriend, when I was 17, played Vampire with a few of my other friends. My husband is a gamer. My boyfriend is a gamer. The new boy is a gamer…. Even my son is heeding the siren call of D20’s and character sheets, and is joining his first Pathfinder campaign this weekend.

Which means, he will be joining my husband (his dad), my boyfriend, and the new boy in something that I believe is a first in my life.

All three partners, in the same room, around a kitchen table… playing Pathfinder.

I must say, this isn’t something that happens very often to anyone, at least not as far as I have heard.

Boyfriend asked me if I would be going out that evening. Sometimes I do… sometimes the clatter of dice and the deep echo of men’s voices is too much for me, and I bail. But not this time. I told him “Why would I want to go anywhere? All the attractive men are at my house!” I may hide in the office and write, or camp on the couch and knit. I like to listen to the games, even if I don’t play them. I don’t play any games very well. I get too bored.

This illustrates something else, though, a lovely deeper truth. Something that pleases me greatly.

My husband and my boyfriend get along. They have been friends for almost as long as Boyfriend and I have been together. This isn’t the first time they have gamed together, and I am sure it won’t be the last. We do family dinners, the four of us (can’t forget boyfriend’s wife – the other corner of our square!) and hikes and I love my time with The Other Woman and I feel very fortunate to call her my friend.

And I am hoping the New Boy will fit in well, also. Nerdy, Geeky, a gamer… he has good odds.

And I get to sit back, and enjoy the show, as these wonderful men who mean so much to me spend time with one other… time that doesn’t involve me in the slightest, except for that I am the reason they all were brought together in the first place.

PS: Sadly, the magical gaming night never happened. It was cancelled due to illness. Instead, I got a lovely afternoon date with the Boyfriend, and spent the evening playing Munchkin and watching “I Love the 1880’s” with the Husband and the kids. But, I must add, it still makes me happy that it almost happened, and I am looking forward to whenever they reschedule…


A Thought

The more you love, the more you can love — and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just. -Robert Heinlein

A follow-up to this morning’s post. It’s from the book “Time Enough For Love” and it’s as good a summary of my philosphy as any.


Time Enough…

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha

You always think you have more time. Until you don’t.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day. About how you need to tell people that you love “I love you” because you never know when you may get another chance. Hug them while you can, too. Enjoy that sunrise or sunset. Chase your dreams. Tickle your children and do tempera paint handprint art with them, because in a few short years, you will marvel at how small their hands were.

Trust me on that. My son’s hands are now exactly the same size as mine, and he isn’t ten yet. He’s also grown well past my chin and is well on his way to being much taller than I. Snuggle them while they are lap size, because they will grow and your lap will shrink. Play with their curls while you watch a movie together, for there will be a day that they no longer want you to. Hold their hands while their hands are still smaller than yours. Pay attention to the little changes, for you won’t remember the day your daughter’s eyes stopped being blue and started being green. Trust me on this. You won’t remember the day she grew into her chipmunk cheeks and started to look like a big girl.

If you are lucky enough to still have living parents that you are close to, take the time to listen to their stories. When my dad died, so many stories were lost, simply because I was too young to realize their value. I promised myself I would not make the same mistake with my mother, and we have forged a friendship that I never thought was possible. Respecting your elders is important, but listening to them is more so. They are the guardians and keepers of your history. They are the only people to remember your first steps, smiles, and lost teeth. They lived through a world that no longer even exists. Let them tell their stories, and honor their wisdom.

If you are lucky enough to have close loved ones and friends in your life, tell them how much they mean to you. Tell your partners what they mean to you, and why you are glad to have them. The only guarantee about tomorrow is that it is uncertain. The only promise we have is that we aren’t promised another day. It’s a cliché, but each day truly is a gift, and I think it’s time more people treated it as such. In slightly more than a decade, I have lost my grandmother, my father, my sister, a good friend and occasional lover, and a few distant friends and old classmates. I don’t get those people back. And what it has taught me is to not take any of this for granted. And, also, to hold tight to those I hold dear.

That roughly half-dozen people I’ve already lost have taught me that love is sacred, fragile, and impermanent. They have taught me to live fully in the moment. To paraphrase Lazarus Long, one of my very favorite fictional characters, we all have the same amount of time on this Earth. Whether we are long-life or short-life creatures, the only moment we have is now. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is uncertain. They only time we all have is “now” (this idea is discussed at length in the book Time Enough for Love, which I highly recommend).

If you know me in person, this attitude makes me uncomfortably blunt sometimes. If you mean something to me, I aim to let you know as clearly and as often as possible.

Because I may never get another chance.

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Ghosts

Does anyone else remember the Brewery Blocks? The way that area used to smell? The cloying sweetness of brewer’s yeast heavy over the blocks surrounding Powell’s Books? The smell would cling to you, permeate your car, follow you out of the city as you returned to the suburbs.

Powell’s itself still smells the same. Musty, dusty books and strong coffee. The years I lived in California, I avoided bookstores, because they didn’t smell right. They smelled too new, too polished. Amazing how scent memory colors everything. I’d buy my books on trips home to Portland, and carry them home in my suitcase or ship them to myself, if I’d overbought. Avoiding the Los Angeles bookstores, which were rare in any case, because they reflected the world they were built in. Shiny, plastic, artificial. No coffee shop tucked into the corner, no pub next door. No smell of marijuana and beer clinging to the patrons, no brewer’s yeast outside the front door. No smell of rain or wet sidewalks or soggy umbrellas. Just the smell of smoggy air, new paper, body spray, and sunscreen.

Although, not really related, I loved the Oceanside library and the chance to gorge on books on the beach where they filmed Baywatch. Alternating between my novel and watching the surfers, slowly turning the color of toast.

Does anyone else love the smell of the country in the Northwest in the depths of summer? It smells like blackberry cobbler, from all the berries slowly withering on the brambles. The ghosts of early summer’s roses hover in the air, and the first rain has a smell I cannot describe.

And, after even the barest scent of Brut aftershave, I can feel the coarse polyester of my father’s uniform slacks against my cheek. When I was small, I’d put my head on his knee when he sat on the couch to watch television after work. He had a rich metallic smell to him, as well, which I now know was the scent of the weapons and radios he worked with, in the equipment room of the sherif’s office. I feel the bristle of his whiskers when he’d kiss me on the forehead, the rough wool of his sport coat the day I was married. I can see the watery green of his eyes and hear the deep timbre of his voice. I remember the smells of coffee and cigarette smoke when I was a little girl… warm summer mornings when my parents would chat and smoke and drink coffee before Dad headed to work and Mom did whatever it was that she did. He’s been dead now almost fourteen years, and just a whiff brings it all back.

Scent memory is such an amazing thing. The way our brain creates pathways, immediate reactions which bring us directly to a place and time that hasn’t existed for years. One moment, and you are four and roller skating for the first time, or fourteen and being kissed for the first time. You are getting married, or grieving, or laughing. You are with lovers and friends and family long gone, and it’s as if their ghosts have come to give you a gentle hug, briefly pulling you back to past, urging you to not forget them. And you find, in that brief instant, they are alive again, and vibrant… new buildings crumble and the old ones rise again on your horizon. Your soul remembers the laughter and loves and heartbreaks of the past, and the door to eternity opens, briefly, and then closes again, dumping you back in the day-to-day world.

 


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