I woke this morning with one intention: showing up to my life. I also woke, as did those of you reading this, to the shut-down of the government after a stalemate impasse around legislation and budget and social policy. Similarly, I woke up to workplace frustration, ego, overload of work-related tasks in which the forest is often lost amid the trees. People around me are experiencing illness, transition, loss, sadness, marginalization. And, I woke up to my own inner world, a growing sense of emergence mixed with confinement…or as my friend Susan once alluded to in a sermon she preached: lobsters molting.
This is the world into which I am showing up this morning.
Let me back up to my weekend, because in it there is a really beautiful showing up moment that brings light to my path today. This weekend, I joined 135 or so members of my faith community at a retreat in the mountains. We did many lovely activities from hiking to candlelit compline at the labyrinth, to karaoke to hay-less wagon rides along country roads. We also welcomed the newest member of our community through Holy Baptism, celebrating the birth (and adoption) of a small, six week old child of God into the faith and life that we practice. Presiding at this lovely ritual of new beginning was the final of four beloved pastoral leaders who will depart our parish this year, along with our interim rector who is leading us through this year of transition, getting to know us in a way that helps us let go and move through our process of transition keeping God in the midst. We gathered around, children and grown-ups with hearts completely full and admittedly, overwhelmed by a mix of saying good-bye while wishing amazing things to each person’s new calling, and rising into awareness about our own community’s collective opportunity for growth. If there was an emotional barometer in that outdoor shrine, it would have burst from our collective emotion.
In the midst of this gathering, the six week old dressed all in white was sleeping. And then, she woke and we watched as she took big deep breaths of mountain air, taking in all that surrounded her. At one priceless moment, as we joined in welcoming her to community, she stretched out her small hand and rose it up to the sky and outwardly toward us, seemingly blessing us all with her own innocence and hopeful expectation of life.
She showed up, exactly as she was.
I am thinking back this morning to this small moment of showing up. Was it planned on her part? No, I don’t believe it was. Was she aware of our mixed emotions, our exhausted good-byes, our loving sending forth of leaders to new congregations, our growing sense of all that we offer to each other in community even in the midst of change? No, she was oblivious. Did she know her own story, or the story of her parents that brought everyone into this space? Nope, there are details and heart-stories that may only become known and shared over time, even though she is the key figure in the narrative. She showed up because that is what we do when we are cared for by those who love us, when we are embraced by community. She showed up in the midst of divine love and grace. Family, friends, community bring us where we need to be. And, our spirits stir in response to something far greater than we can ask or imagine.
I remember and reflect on this story as I greet this particular day, in this world filled with so much angst and frustration. Circumstances are clearly outside my control. I fight the urge to leap ahead into what I think I want to see happen (there is a lot of “I” in that statement!) But, planning for an uncertain future doesn’t keep us present and aware of what is happening in this moment, amid the chaos and sadness…and love and community…that is happening all around in connection with us. Someone who doesn’t know it yet is awaiting my reach out to them, and my restless spirit is awaiting the arrival of something I cannot yet know or describe in detail. I catch glimpses of it, though, just as I did this weekend. These moments remind me to pay attention, to be open to seeing the smallest points of light along the journey as they emerge, to experience divine love and grace.
So, on this day, I will show up to my life.