30 November 2010

my eyes are opened, and in this life i shall have joy.

an unexpected moment on an unexpected trip in my unexpected life

This morning I read sad news from an acquaintance. She wrote of a great life change with the kind of grace and dignity you might expect from her, but at such a time in her life it still caught me off guard. I carried her in my heart all day. Her news brought back lots of heartaching memories and induced the kind of empathy that kept tears near the surface at every moment.

One of the things I loved about Mormonism was the predictability. There was a plan for everything- the Plan of Salvation when you die, food storage when you go broke, a million committee meetings with a million agendas, a plan for your life with marriage and kids and how to respond to temptation. Amidst the dislocations of my teenage and college years I found those plans so comforting.

And then I lived.

I left the garden. The path I am wasn't the first path I would have chosen. There are days when I do not feel up to the challenge, that the struggles seem too immense. So much agency, so much new, so much I never thought I would have to face. But then I have these moments that I encounter something so totally unexpected, something so indescribably beautiful that only the right here, right now could have revealed. The eyes of my eyes were opened. I am surprised, but my joy is full. It took a lot of pain. It took a lot of reconfiguring-- of my priorities, my goals, my family. But it was so worth it. What I have does not look a thing like what I would have planned. 

It is better.

Peace be with you.


Bunny said...

And again I say to you my darling daughter, I am so proud, so proud of what you were, what you are and what you will become. You are one of a few things in my life that make it the best.
Peace be with you.

jana said...

some days are harder than others, aren't they? i don't have any regrets, though...

Anonymous said...

My life (and my wife's) has been very similar, though it started in non-denominational Christian evangelical church for us, instead of the Mormon church.

I feel about organized religion, that it tries to have an answer for everything, to reduce everything to logic, and to regulate everyone's behavior, while talking about how it should change their hearts. This has the effect of teaching people how to behave, but not how to think and decide - and then they think this change of behavior is enough, only they feel guilty because it's never complete.

In our case, becoming missionaries was one of the final straws in our decision to leave the church.

Which doesn't mean we've left our faith behind... but it is much, much different than it was. It is tempered with a deep realization that life is much bigger than we can understand.

It is tempered with a deep understanding that life is much more beautiful than we can comprehend. It is tempered with a deep understanding that relationship is everything (and certainly much more important than being "right"). It is tempered with a deep understanding that pain is necessary for growth, hurt is necessary for understanding, and melancholy is necessary for joy.

We were just talking about how unexpected life is with our doctor yesterday - we never would have imagined we'd be at the place we are now, either. He was commenting how he grew up super-conservative Baptist, and now practices a combination of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism.

As he said, it's all about experience and growing spiritually, not about confining yourself to rules and fear and manipulation. You have to be open to the path and pace that your life needs to take, and as you discover that, you become much more open to accepting the path and pace which other people need to take as well.

Life is really painful and confusing sometimes... but it is intensely beautiful at the same time. More than I could ever imagine anything could be.