Today, I find myself depressed. Not so thoroughly depressed as to make me inactive, but pretty close. The incident that triggered my depression is something I have known was coming for a while. But even a fore-knowledge of what is to come can not stop the wave of sadness that washes over you when it does, in fact, come to fruition. I’ll cut to the chase…
When we first moved to our new home, we searched out a church. To our delight, we quickly found a place where we felt comfortable and we therefore invested ourselves in our new church home. We had been here about six months when the rug was pulled out from underneath our feet and we learned that the priest we so loved was not universally liked. In fact, there was a faction within the church who didn’t just dislike him. They were waging an all-out campaign to make him leave.
I will stop here and say that there are many people who would look at this situation and point out that this is what’s wrong with organized religion. People who ascribe to a religion are not about helping others or living up to the ideal that Christianity/Islam/Judaism (insert your favorite religion here) describe. My response is that you find this kind of thing everywhere; in the work place, in families, in social groups of all kinds. It is a part of being human that we are petty and will resort to underhanded tactics to keep our status and power.
Back to the story….
After we discovered the secret underbelly of the people we worshiped with, we were understandably unnerved. In one horrific scene, we witnessed people condemning our priest of silly and petty things. Of course, to those making the accusations, it did not seem silly or petty, but from our vantage point as new members, it sounded like personality conflicts and misunderstandings. You know, the kind of things adults work through and move on.
Such was their frustration at this priest that now, four years after we got here and six years after he took the job, they finally managed to make him leave. Consider that for a moment. These people spent six years working on getting him replaced.
As soon as they were sure it was going to happen, the priest and his wife took the time to have lunch with us to let us know. Frankly, we were not all that surprised. I have been more impressed with the fact that despite the health issues caused directly from this battle (the priest had a heart attack 2 years ago, his wife ended up in the hospital for stress-induced medical problems) they stayed as long as they did.
They asked us to stay at the church, to help the people rebuild it. Despite everything that has been done to them, they still want what is best for the church and its congregation. Right now, Hubby has said he plans to stop attending any church for a while. I understand. When people act this way, it makes it hard to believe that there are good people out there. It makes it hard to trust again.
My plan is to find another church to attend. I was thinking of going back to our church, but I don’t think I can without Hubby. And while he may need to take a break, I have already been through this type of questioning. For me, I choose to find another church home for me and my children. I know it’s what I need. Hubby may come with me later on. It’s his choice.
The hardest part of it all is to forgive those who chose to be so nasty. There was no need for it. They had already left the church. But they finally found a way. I won’t go into all the messiness here. It doesn’t matter. I hope that I might find it in my heart not to be bitter towards those who finally got their way. The best I can do at the moment is hope that they don’t get what they deserve. In that spirit, enjoy this poem I found:
Forgiveness is the wind-blown bud
which blooms in placid beauty at Verdun.
Forgiveness is the tiny slate-gray sparrow
which has built its nest of twigs and string
among the shards of glass upon
the wall of shame.
Forgiveness is the child who
laughs in merry ecstasy
beneath the toothed fence that
closes in Da Nang.
Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet
which still clings fast to the
heel that crushed it.
Forgiveness is the broken dream
which hides itself within the corner of the mind
oft called forgetfulness so that
it will not bring pain to the dreamer.
Forgiveness is the reed
which stands up straight and green
when nature’s mighty rampage halts, full spent.
Forgiveness is a God who will not leave us
after all we’ve done.
by George Roemisch
It was much too hot as Cali and I pulled up to the crowded gas station to wait our turn to fill the on-the-verge-of-empty gas tank in my truck. Cali and I have worked together for about four months. Between Cali and his wife, they have two jobs, one baseball-genius son…and one car. So Cali gets rides from me the four days a week we get off from work at the same time.
Working in the circulation department of the local public library has proven fun for me. There is an almost constant stream of characters that pass by the front desk where they are accosted by my greeting, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. The work can be fast paced, like the days when more people and books come through our doors than we can handle, but there are lulls in the day as well. Most importantly, my bosses seem to be more laid back than at my previous paid job.
In a previous incarnation (the one before I became Mom and stay at home worker), I was a legal secretary. Not one trained for the job, mind you. They hired me based solely on my inexperience since they could then pay me just over minimum wage and know I would be grateful. Everyone at the firm started work promptly at 9am, except for the receptionist who was to come in at 8:30am. The receptionist was a lovely older lady who had gone back to work after her husband retired. Ms. Gray arrived every morning just before 8:30 and was left to wait outside the front door of the office, rain or shine, hot or freezing cold or some combination thereof, until the junior attorney assigned to open the office early arrived. This was because they could not possibly trust Ms. Gray, who had worked for them a mere seven years, with a key to the front door.
Junior was rarely on time and I know this because one year into my five and a half year employment with them, I began to come in a sanctioned half hour early at 8:30am. Ms. Gray’s husband often parked in front of the building, especially on cold days, so that we could wait in relative comfort for Junior to turn up and release us from the waiting purgatory.
One cold morning, I decided I should engage Mr. Gray, a somewhat surly lump of a fellow, in conversation. I thought better of the idea a little too late, somewhere in the midst of his rant about some teenagers who were thoughtless enough to cut him off the previous day in traffic. He was infuriated and had followed them, wishing to let them know his fury by screaming some expletive or other at them, keeping the anger alive by recounting the story in as much vivid detail as he could muster.
Shocked into silence, I only dared to respond as I saw Junior walk up to the office door.
‘That’s a lot of negative energy to expend on people who don’t even know you exist,’ I commented as I left the vehicle. It was the last time I saw Mr. Gray since he made Ms. Gray a widow just a few days later.
None of this was on my mind as Cali and I sat in the line, or at least what I thought was the line, at the gas station. While we chatted, I saw an opening start to come available, but before I could take advantage of the opportunity, another car came in and whizzed around my puny little truck and snagged the open spot at the tank.
Furious at such inconsiderate behavior, I quickly pondered my options…1- Get out and yell at the people, 2- Honk my horn, but wait until another spot came available to then fill up my tank or 3- Squeal my tires as I raced out of the lot. Number one was fraught with the danger of getting yelled at or worse, completely ignored. There was also the possibility they would ask me what I wanted them to do about it and if they had to ask the question, well then it just wasn’t worth the effort. Number two was also laced with the prospect of being yelled at and frankly, I really don’t like confrontation. So number three it was!
Cali’s eyes widened unnaturally as I raced around parked cars to leave the gas station and pulled out into non-existent traffic. (We live in a very small town.) Still fuming as we turned down his street, I lamely tried to explain myself, but it sounded hollow even to my angry ears.
It’s only now, several weeks later, that I remember Ms. Gray’s husband and his fury at being cut off by some thoughtless drivers and my own calm and measured response. There is a part of me that has somehow been lost. I haven’t seen much of that calm, centered person in a long while and though I’m not sure where she went, but I have a feeling I know where to find her.
The internet has afforded us with many new opportunities, not the least of which are social networks that help us keep connected to friends and re-connect with old ones. For years now, I have looked for one such old friend to no avail. But suddenly, she is on facebook and now we have the chance to reconnect.
We met over a decade ago while we were both on an exchange semester to Germany. (The same exchange I was on when I met Hubby.) She was very different from me- confident, sexy, engaging. I was actually quite taken with her and was disappointed that we lost contact after she went back home to Belgium. Since that time, much has happened. I graduated from college, got married to Hubby (whom she knew before I met her), started but did not finish a Master’s degree and had two children. I was anxious to catch up and find out what has been going on in her life.
One fun option to facebook is to have a short ‘about me’ section. There are places to put your favorite quotes and anything else you wish people to know about you. My friend had chosen to fill this section with the following sentence: ‘a man must take his time.’ Intriguing
We are all on this path of life but at different stages of growth- physical, spiritual and mental. We don’t all know the same life lessons at the same time. It’s an individual journey. Religion helps answer the question of purpose for some people. Others find it in their work or family.
As a young twenty-something, I never took much time to consider this question. Life was enjoyable, especially after I found my life partner in Hubby. It is, curiously, now that I have a family and a new role as a worker outside of the home, that I find myself asking this question more and more. What is our purpose? What is my purpose? Where do I want to go in life?
Much of this can be answered by my belief that we should help one another out and provide support in as many aspects of life as we can. But I really like my friend’s quote. It says we should be patient with ourselves and by extension, those around us. We, as people, continue to be works in progress. Take the time to understand yourself and you will better understand those around you.
So that is my new motto- a person should take her time. Interpret that as it feels right to you. For me, it means not to worry too much about my existential existence. It will come together well enough.
It is exciting here since I will not only hear about new books and get recommendations from patrons, I get first dibs at some of the new stuff coming out. Joy!
This morning, at the breakfast table, I told the boys I would see them this evening and to have a great day. Luke Skywalker merely nodded his head as he bounced and bobbed to the music, but Ellwood looked thoughtful.
‘Mommy, why do you have to work so much at work when you have so much to do here? That isn’t fair.’ Bless him. It launched a discussion on each of us being a part of the family and helping out around the house. This seemed to satisfy him, but I was impressed that he recognized almost immediately the plight that many parents find themselves in- overwhelmed by working and having just as much, if not more, that needs to be done at home. (A topic I might explore later, but currently my brain is mush, so this will be it today!)
Have a wonderful day, guys. And thanks for the listen!