Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

John 16:12

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now."

One of the phrases that used to drive me nuts as a child was for one of the grownups in my world to tell me, "You're not old enough yet," or one of that phrase's cousins..."I'll explain it to you when you're a little older..." "You're too little..." "You're not big enough to do that yet."

I ALWAYS thought I was big enough. Even when I obviously was not.

The more physical version of that used to irritate me at theme parks like Six Flags or Worlds of Fun..."You must be this tall to ride this ride." I would stretch, I would stick my neck up high as far as I could, but there would always be some college age person working there for the summer, laughing at me. LAUGHING. "Sorry, kid...not quite."

Something about that "You're not old enough/tall enough/big enough" message has always been one of the deepest red-eared humiliating rejection messages that was put on this earth for me to endure.

Lately, I have this feeling God has been laughing at me over my reaction to this message.

I have had a very strange year. It has been a year of incredible discoveries. But it has also been a year of incredible losses. It has been a year of some really good things evolving inside of me, and realizations of gratitude and levels of understanding I never even considered I could grasp. But so many of these things still appear to be very "open-ended," with no clear destination or "endpoint" in sight. That "lack of destination" is painfully unsettling to me. It's a little like wandering in the desert without a map.

Some moments are moments of amazing clarity, like my previous post. Others are as thick and opaque as the mud on my gravel road during "the mud season"--that time in NE Missouri that runs around February to April, when you beg for winter to end, and spring really hasn't become spring yet, even if the calendar says so.

I have observed that my times of spiritual frustration almost always immediately follow a moment of intense spiritual clarity, and are of longer duration than the moments of clarity. It is like the clear moment hits me in a "Wow! Pow!" fashion, and for a short time I can literally bask in the moment. But then, before long, comes a new "You have to be this tall to ride this ride" sign, and guess what...I'm too short...again.

There is a part of me that asks, "Is it just that I now have the powers of observation to see this? Maybe EACH year of my life has been just as confusing, but I was not aware enough to know better."

I'm also discovering that "holes aren't really holes;" "barriers aren't really barriers;" and "boundaries aren't really boundaries." This one has been a real red-ear burner for me, as these thoughts seem so incredibly...well...mystic...and I have lived in a role in life that has been so staunchly rooted in "practical." I am reminded that the younger version of me poo-pooed mystery, refused to accept anything I could not take apart and put back together again, and that I make my living by only saying what I know I can say about a particular pathologic lesion.

I was pondering that "barriers are not barriers" in the context of my friend's funeral yesterday. I have always thought of death as a "barrier." It bars me from seeing those I care about. It has always been the ultimate form of abandonment for me. Even thinking about my own death left me with a sense of my own self-abandonment.

But something different came over me yesterday. This was the first time I was ever acolyte at a church funeral. (Well, technically, I was just the crucifer, since it was not a Eucharistic service, but I did light the candles. Hey, small church, small altar party.) I have to tell you I was quite nervous. We stuffed 147 people in our little 92 year old sanctuary, with folding chairs everywhere. I am not a person who digs crowds of strangers. Neither is our priest. There was one moment where we both looked at each other and had that "Let me outa here!" look. But once I got enough nerve to go up and light the candles, it all ran on auto-pilot.

But the odd feeling I got, as I was up there on the chancel floor with her cremains, was, "There are no barriers here." I suddenly did not feel the separation I had felt the last several days from her few days in the shadow-land of "Neurosurgical world", to her passing, to those agonizing days before the funeral when I would bolt upright from bed at 4 a.m.

I thought about the odd experience I had last week in our ordinary Sunday service where carrying the cross felt "electric." In retrospect, I wonder if that was not "preparation" for yesterday. I was not "told", because, as the verse in John says, "I could not yet bear it." But as it all played out, I could not just "bear it", but live it. I realized later that night, that being able to hold that cross aloft at a box of cremains is the ultimate in "giving death the middle finger." This barrier I used to see called Death is no longer a barrier. The hole of separation of us from our loved ones is no longer a hole in quite the sense I once thought it was. Yes, I miss these people. Sometimes unexpectedly and painfully. But these are just temporal moments of longing that are a mere speck in the time fabric of the universe. A blip. A mere "pffft" that goes unnoticed in the grand scheme of time and space. Not a big, gaping, uncrossable canyon.

So in that sense, my "unsettled-ness" should not be a hole, either. I just need to accept that, at the moment of our own deaths, we will no longer ever feel too small to ride the ride.


Yes, I miss these people. Sometimes unexpectedly and painfully. But these are just temporal moments of longing that are a mere speck in the time fabric of the universe. A blip. A mere "pffft" that goes unnoticed in the grand scheme of time and space. Not a big, gaping, uncrossable canyon.¨ K

Exactly (and the fear falls away as the friendship continues).



"There are no barriers here." That sounds like a true mystical insight.

Exactly what we were talking about tonight.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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