Tuesday, May 30, 2006

GRAPPLING WITH THE BLUES ON A BIG WEEKEND

I didn't blog all weekend. Typically, with a weekend as full and rich as this one was, I would have had much to reflect on and share. But whatever in me that is stirred to write (even when I am frustrated) was on "mute" for a few days. Only now, on Tuesday after the Memorial Day Weekend, do I feel ready to write a bit.

ONSET OF A FUNK. Jared graduated with honors in a class of 860 on Friday evening. We packed in like sardines in the Ben Davis gymnasium (why can't they just rent the Convention Center?). We could barely hear what was being said through much of the ceremony. After the ceremony, we had trouble finding Jared; found him after 20 minutes of searching. Then, instead of going out to dinner with his extended family after graduation, Jared chose to be with his friends (though he later called to try to catch up with us...too late). These rather normally insignificant things combined with an unexpected and unspeakable sense of loss to put me into what I can only describe now as a serious funk.

THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF A BIRTHDAY. The next day, Saturday, was my birthday. I had anticipated it being low key anyway, given our hopes that this would be a full weekend of celebrating Jared's graduation (with his graduation open house on Memorial Day). But I woke with such a case of the blues that I could not muster a smile or make myself feel good. Turning 47 seems inconsequential anyway, but given the funk I was in, having any birthday seemed ridiculously trivial. All I could do was to try to go through the motions of the birthday guy; inside I was just flat and numb.

TRYING TO WORK THROUGH IT. I tried to do the things that would typically pull me out of a bad mood, hard feelings, or a low. I biked 20 miles to Sam's soccer tournament. I took a nap. I prayed, reminding myself of God's love and care, and asking for grace. I took Sam to his second game and cheered him on. I did some yard work. I took another nap. Nothing seemed to work. It was as if I were grieving something I could not name or put my finger on. I tried to guard my words very carefully for fear I might say something in my funk that I would later regret. Family wanted to celebrate my birthday; I just wanted to be left alone.

THE BLUES YIELD TO A PEACE. By Saturday night my blues receded. Nothing in particular seemed to end it. I woke from a brief nap and the house was quiet. Everyone was gone for the moment. I was fragile, but at peace. I felt as if a heavy hand had been lifted from me. I was no longer heavy-hearted. Whatever had come over me was no longer pressing down. In prayer I felt accepted and ready to accept what I could not change, and to serve graciously in ways and roles less than my immediate ideal. I sensed that it is not in claiming what we think is rightfully ours that we are most human and God-blessed, but in offering all that we have been given without presumptions or harbored notions of controllable outcomes. I felt momentarily okay with things as they were unfolding. A relieving breakthrough had come as unexpectedly and unspeakably as the funk.

GRATEFUL REBOUND. So, I was grateful to be able to enjoy Sunday. I preached freely from Acts 1 on the experience of being in the middle between promise and fulfillment ("Don't leave Jerusalem"). I laughed with everyone--including my mom, sister, and brother-in-law--around our family dinner table. I tuned into the Indy 500 via the Internet (I was watching from Marco Andretti's on-board rearview camera as Sam Hornish, Jr. overtook him--unbelievably--at the finish line). I took a 14-mile bicycle spin around the airport (Indianapolis International is quite a busy place after the race). I then enjoyed helping make preparations for the graduation open house the rest of the evening.

WARM OPEN HOUSE. Jared had nearly 100 friends, family, and neighbors come to his graduation open house on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year. Our air conditioner could not keep up with the many people and while the temperature outside hovered at 90 degrees, the temp inside the house went up to 81. So, it was a warm occasion on several different levels. The combination of extended family, our church families, our immediate neighbors, life-long friends, and Jared's high school friends was quite a combination. I enjoyed introducing people to each other and watching them make connections and conversation. We were tired and relieved when it was over.

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