Back Door ... Front Door
My heart and sympathies go out to everyone who has had the flu this winter season. I was afflicted with this malady just before Christmas. It zapped my strength and took my attention and I hated every minute of it. It made friends with the downsides to this time of year – to anxiety and depression. I think I was able to say I had fully recovered at the beginning of the second week of this year.
2017 was a challenging year. After completing a major project half-way through it, I was placed on a short medical leave. I learned while taking courses to complete a certificate in Trauma and Spiritual Care, that our bodies have good memories, that is, that the effects of trauma and stress are manifested in our bodies in particular and very real ways. Our minds may convince us that we are tougher than we are and/or not easily affected by the “routine” stresses we endure, but our bodies have to deal with it. My body systems were thrown off balance and I was forced to sit down.
I decided to listen to what my body was telling me and considered what boundary reinforcing/respecting I had to do. It hasn’t been easy. Saying “no” to projects that I’m interested in or feel called to is tricky. I have had to mentally juggle priorities, side-step guilt and shame, and convince myself that it was ok to take a break.
I have been contemplating this one life I’m living. I’ve been reviewing my past, my decisions, my choices, my options and weighing them all against my understanding of mortality. And I’ve been watching – in a different way, how others are living their one life. Watching – not judging. Noticing while on the periphery…finding myself thinking, “That’s an interesting choice.”
On December 31st, I remarked that it felt like I was standing in the back doorway of 2017. I was glad to be standing there, ready to close the door entirely. But it wouldn’t be over until midnight. And was one day really that much different than the next? I sensed these dates were just markers that humankind invented so that there were ways to start over, ways to compartmentalize instances in our lives that necessarily had to be finite so that we could move on. I ritualized my back door experience by ending 2017 and starting 2018 in the shower. In one way it was a refreshment – a way of washing away 2017 because I didn’t want to bring anything into 2018 with me. I know that a washing away doesn’t discriminate between the pleasant and unpleasant. Was it ok to wash away the good stuff, too or did the good stuff get moved to a more resilient place in my heart/brain/soul? Could it be the washing was baptismal or at least a remembrance of it?
I emerged at the front doorway of 2018. In those first few moments I was hopeful and non-anxious. As the world slowly seeped into my space, I was overwhelmed by how much this day was like the last. I knew it would happen. But it was so quick. My sensibilities have been so bombarded by rampant and continuing injustice, malice, tragedy – I feel over-newsed – that I have been functioning with a kind of spiritual laryngitis. The prompt from a spiritual direction session was to consider where Jesus showed up in the past week or where Jesus didn’t show up in the past week. I realized that in the past week, I hadn’t considered even looking for Jesus so I could not say where Jesus was or wasn’t.
Then I got phone calls. They were from people who don’t usually phone me so I was glad (and surprised) to hear from them this way. Each of them was a love offering. I noticed that even more after the calls were over because the love lingered with me. I suppose I had forgotten about the importance of love, the depth of it or my humble need for it. In any case, it was the love that helped me venture past the front doorway and into 2018.