Friday, July 10, 2009

More on what's real

I'll come back to what to call this, because I'm not sure what will come out in this entry.

What's more real: the feeling that I am connected to everything and everyone, or the feeling that I am absolutely alone in the universe? Really, these aren't so much feelings as descriptions of alternate realities. I couldn't possibly be both, could I?

I can tell you which feels more real. I was surrounded by people most of the day, but I came to feel so achingly isolated by the time I left work. Maybe it was just a long, rough day. At work, we heard the EMS tone out to pick up Luke Pollok and take him to the hospital -- is this what we get for praying so hard for him all week, Lord? I'm really upset about that. My husband was grouchy on the phone to me, even though he gets to leave on vacation first. I felt tugged in lots of directions today ... finishing up and cleaning up VBS, packing for a trip, working, and being asked to work more often over the summer.

Or maybe it's thinking about how I don't identify myself as part of a group, any group. My puzzle piece does not fit anywhere in this puzzle of humanity. I know lots of people, but have few close friends. My extended family is my Dad and sister, and my immediate family isn't enough. Thank God for the writing and exercise, and other rituals that keep me sane.

I have been that type of person my whole life. I think the proper name is "loner," but I am not sure if I chose it or it chose me, or if there was any choice involved at all. I am very aware that my thoughts, perspective, beliefs, are all as individual as my fingerprints. Yet somehow, they are also universal, or I could not hope to touch someone else's life with my writing.

This lonely mood could simply be a reflection of the lag time between my family's leaving and my leaving for a quick vacation, and the reality that I will have to spend a short time alone. Or it could be a reflection that my children are growing up, and one day soon, they will be leaving me to find their own way. That kind of change is too hard to contemplate all at once.

To protect myself, I have a habit of pre-grieving for events that have not yet happened -- an unhealthy habit, I suspect. My urge to pre-grieve does not soften the blow (if it comes), nor does it accurately predict which disaster will strike, when, and of what magnitude. I may be happy by the time my kids leave! Or worse -- what if they never leave at all?

If I can't think of anything to grieve about, I just make something up. Especially at night, when I'm trying to relax and go to sleep. This is what I think of as the devil having fun inside my head (only because I let him!). Don't know if it's genetic or what; I know several family members who are quite high-strung and prone to anxiety attacks.

I played at Vacation Bible School this week, and it was so much fun. We all toyed with reality and fantasy, and the lines became blurred for more than just the children. I took children of all ages to the underground church (cave) in Rome, and they had lots of questions. Is this a real cave? Are those Roman soldiers real? What will happen if they catch me?

I have some questions, too. What really happened to Paul and Peter, two of God's most faithful Christian servants? After Robert, who played Paul, told me that one of them was crucified upside-down, I did a little research online. Though recorded history of what happened is sparse, it seems that tradition is unanimous in proclaiming that Paul was beheaded after his second arrest in Rome, while Peter was crucified upside-down. But really, we just don't know. As Robert pointed out, these are not good details to share with the kids. But how should I feel about it? God certainly does not protect his beloved servants. It seems that following Christ sometimes becomes a bit too literal.

I thought this year's VBS was especially transformative. I had a wonderful week, and a large part of that was just watching all the other really great volunteers, both adult and youth, shine their lights for all to see. I was really moved by it.

I keep realizing that the issues young children are trying to work out just aren't that different from what we wrestle with over the course of a lifetime. God, what's real? Are you real? Then why are these bad things happening? Where is my reward for following you? What do you mean, I shouldn't expect one?

If you're real, where are you when I feel all alone?

So now I see a theme gelling here.

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