Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I apologize for the length of time since the last post. When I started this venture, my intent was to have at least one, if not two, a week. I will briefly tell my story of more recent days. It is no different than most of you and for some, it is not even on the same page as far as intensity is concerned, which is to say that my struggle does not even come close to what some must bear. But maybe it will help for us to think together. Suffice it to say, there just seems to come those occasions when the inner well runs dry. There is no sense or willingness to give the "bit more" that is needed.
I'm sure that a part of what I struggle with still is the recent loss of my Dad. He died on a Thursday before I was scheduled to see him the next Tuesday. I had seen him a little over a month before and am now grateful that I had that time. I really thought I would share one more visit. It was not to be. I still think of him every day and recall years of past memories. But I have yet to shed a tear since his death. And that is strange, because we are an emotional family. I have long held to the notion that tears help wash away some of the grief.

I know the reason I have not wept. Along with other contributing factors to the dry spell, I have to take a particular medication for about a year, every other year. The side effects are awful and I am left with a daily sense of serious fatigue. But thank goodness, I have been prescribed something that eases the symptoms considerably with the exception of the fatigue. The only problem is that the medicine is an anti-depressant. So, while I can now avoid disconcerting side effects, I also have trouble feeling. And I hate it! In a few months I will be off the meds for another year and I'm sure the emotional surges will return. And perhaps also the tears.

When the well is dry, who we are seems to be affected at some rather deep levels. Do we need to just get more rest, have a change in environment, work on changing negative habits? What? I have worked at the shelter long enough to know that I can almost go through the motions and still get the job done. But I am charged with the responsibility of being a proclaimer every Sunday morning and on some of those days, I feel as though I just cannot get in touch with what I need to say.
Jesus spoke of living water. I believe in such nourishment. But how do I get it? Do I need some kind of body-slamming religious experiences? Those don't seem to come to me. My challenge and my vulnerability is knowing that mine is a day by day sojourn. So I look to my time with a group of wild men every Friday morning over coffee, the embrace of dear, dear friends, a freedom-loving congregation, the face of Jesus in those who hurt, and the love of a family that never seems to be willing to give up on each other. Cool refreshment comes in a variety of cups. And for a while my thirst is quenched.


  1. I remembered Pa-paw this morning as I was getting ready for work. His memory, of course, brought a smile to my face. As I thought more about him, I began thinking about his work and what he did for a living. To me, and I think to everyone in the family, I saw Pa-paw as a good man. I saw him as the man I hope to become. The interesting thing about that is that I don't think I ever regarded him by his profession. I knew him by his character. I am so happy that I could know him this way.

    "Do you know so-and-so?" "Oh yeah, he's the this-and-that title of one of those companies that makes a lot of money, but doesn't seem to have any money." It's sad to me to think that a lot of us, especially someone like me who spends the majority of my life in a cubicle, are known by how me make money for a company. I'm a technical writer. He's a chemical engineer. She's a project manager. Conference rooms, emails, meetings; all full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing.

    And so I'm lead very quickly to why I have such an admiration for my grandfather. He was known as a hard worker, but he wasn't known for his work. I know that he worked as an insurance salesman, but I never saw him as one. He worked in a pharmacy and managed a cafe, but all of my memories of him are of his smiles, his kindness, and by how polite he was - even to a fault.

    He was strong-willed, but he was also gentle. And one of the most characteristic things about him that I'll always remember was how extremely understated he could be.

    I remember one time asking Pa-paw about how he felt after coming home from the Second World War. I asked him this fully knowing of the anti-depressant age that we live in now and are trying to adapt a sensibility to.

    These were his exact words on returning from World War II: "Well, when I came home I was moody for awhile, and then I got over it."

    That was all he ever said, and that is the reflection of who he was.

    I remember also one of the phrases I knew my grandfather for saying was, "I don't rightly know." The phrasing of that has always intrigued me. "I don't rightly know." Perhaps he knew something of a matter, but didn't know it fully. Perhaps Pa-paw thought it would be too impolite to say what he felt. Perhaps he just realized the simplicity of admitting that he didn't know the answer.

    So perhaps I can echo those words in a response to this blog entry. When it comes to emotion, and why we are or aren't emotional, who rightly knows the reasons. With faith, and in due time, it'll make sense. I think Pa-paw would have said something like that to me about it. And if it doesn't sense, I think he would have told me to try to not worry too much about it.

    Sometimes we need to know the answers.

    On the other hand, I think sometimes it's better to say, "I don't rightly know." It'll make sense if it needs to. And if it doesn't, we've all got better things to do.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandfather and Gary the words that were most meaningful to me from the Sunday morning service came almost as an aside as you looked at your church family and said, "I love you". I am grateful for the times I am able to visit Grace. Your thoughts shared on retreats and at Grace have been very helpful as I continue my journey. Thank-you.

  3. In my case, maybe it's just a cultural thing. Maybe I have problems with my feelings or understanding of death. Whatever the reasons are, I have not become very emotional over somebody's death in my life yet.

    The closest family members who passed away are my father side of grandparents. My house was 20 minutes away from my grandparents' house. And, I visited them often even before I could even remember. I have some good memory of them. But, I didn't cry when they passed. I felt sad about their passing. But i wasn't sad or upset enough to cry. Maybe I should say that I didn't feel emotionally connected enough to cry. Maybe I didn't realize how upsetting it is for somebody, especially a family member or somebody close, to pass away.

    At my grandmother's funeral, I remember seeing my father and other family members cry for the first time and thinking, "Wow. My dad is crying!" Although I was 14 years old, I acted like a little child. I looked around to see everybody's faces to see if they were crying.
    So, I was nowhere near crying over my grandmother's death.

    My case and Gary's situation are totally different. But, I think it's okay to have different ways to deal with grief. Some people cry even if they don't know the person that well. Other people, like me, don't cry so much. Some people theorized stages of grief. But, I think it's okay not to follow the order.
    Even if medication keeps us from feeling or expressing our feelings, I think God and the deceased understand what we're going through. I believe they watch us over how we deal with life.