It's possible that I "should" go back to my old church, and simply surrender to my grief; let the tears come as I re-enter that place where we were once so happy, so much a part of things, held in great love. However, I haven't felt drawn to do so, and I'm going to honor that.The homily in today's service touched on Jesus' prophecy that things were going to get very hot, very bad for his disciples. He spoke of catastrophe, betrayals, destruction, trials and the coming need to verbally give account, or defend the faith. He told his disciples that some of them would be killed, but then said "not a hair of your head will be harmed." What? How can both of those truths coexist? Apparently, he was speaking poetically about those precious hairs.
Every time I hear such words nowadays, I hear them through the filter of what happened to Katie and to our family. It's not an intellectual exercise; it just happens - I can't not go there. All stories that involve things falling apart, ground breaking up underfoot, loss, disaster - anything that brings to mind the end of the world as we know it - reminds me of the year of Katie's illness and death. I always ask myself if these things are true, in light of my own experience. It makes church very interesting.
The privilege of sharing the Eucharist on a quiet Sunday morning is important to me. I love that ritual, and its deep symbolic and literal meaning. It is a tiny feast, a weekly "Thanksgiving" meal, where all are welcome; it is purifying, nourishing and comforting.
In his homily, the pastor also asked us where we go - to whom do we turn - when things fall apart. He gave us his own answer, which was a bit surprising - and it made me think.
To whom do I turn?The "right" answer would be "to God," but I'm not sure that's completely true - at least, it's not that simple or direct. I turn inward, at first, when the ground is pulled out from under my feet. I take stock - do a quick assessment - of what has happened, what I have and what I have lost.
I turn to God, yes, but I also turn to those closest to me - my family. That's where we turned when Katie got sick - to the solidarity of one another's love and care - as well as to our home community, the larger community of Seattle Children's Hospital, our church and Ronald McDonald House. God was (is) present in all of those people and entities. He showed His love and presence through their love and caring.
There is a part of me that will always see my life through the lens of "things falling apart." In the six years since Katie's passing, I have adjusted to seeing life through the eyes of a woman who lives with three people in one room at Ronald McDonald House.
I am still that woman: the one who takes a walk each day to let off steam; who runs to the 5th floor of the hospital in her pajamas to shower before her daughter wakes up; who steals a couple of hours a week to spend alone with her husband, trying to preserve her marriage under intense stress; one who shares one bathroom with a minimum of three other people; one who has become a nurse, juggling medical supplies, helping her sick child to walk where she doesn't want to go, pushing a wheelchair, knowing her healthy child is not getting the attention he deserves, but unable to be in two places at once.
Though the conditions of my life have changed, I still see the world through that woman's eyes.
What an appropriate message for the week of Thanksgiving, and of David's 21st birthday.