From the perspective of much appreciation and giving thanks, in the responses to what I’ve written recently I’ve received many messages of caring concern and support, even sympathy for “what I’m going through”. I’m really not “going through” anything. I’m very much enjoying where I am on my journey, and wouldn’t change a thing. Spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, I’m in a very good place, although physically maybe not so much. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing. My cardiac situation has given me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people I would not have met otherwise, and for this I am very thankful, and very happy and joyfilled.
I think this phase of my journey began last year with an Ignatian Style retreat I made in September 2022, which I would describe as life changing. It continued with the death of my sister in November, a pretty serious heart attack in May while on vacation in Florida, the death of my other sister in June, a nasty fall on the way to do her funeral, and the death of my sister-in-law in July. Then began the gradual resurgence of cardiac issues culminating in the incident last week. As all this was unfolding I still had a sense of God being God, and an accompanying atmosphere of peace which has never left. I am most grateful for it all.
I think I’m dealing with a steep learning curve. There seem to be some constants in all this. Among them is the presence in my life of strong caring women who are teaching me, at times kicking and screaming, a lot. Some I have known for a while, others I’m just meeting now, even very recently, some are where I live. Many are nurses or are connected to the nursing field. Some are in the area of spiritual direction. Others have devoted their life to helping folks, especially younger folks, who are being mistreated, at times allegedly in the name of God, for how they see themselves, or for trying to discover who they are. Others are former “students” or are married to former students, whom I would simply call amazing. Still others are wives or companions of friends all over the place. Some probably don’t think I know who they are, or even don’t know me. All are helping me see and appreciate a lot of life in new and unexpected ways. The operative word here just might be “unexpected”. It takes something like a cardiac event to help push my reset button, something I think I am doing these days. It is an exciting experience to be aware of priorities seemingly realigning themselves. There are a lot of “awarenesses” happening. Life is constantly reminding me that I don’t have all the answers for myself, let alone for anybody else, so it’s time I quite pretending that I do. I’m enjoying the questioning, the wandering and wondering. It’s a liberating experience. I’d recommend it to some folks.
I’m becoming aware of some things that used to be very important to me no longer are, and this will necessitate some serious thinking, deciding, and choosing on my part. Better go slow on this and do my best to make sure it’s not my ego or out of joint nose calling the shots here. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I just don’t share the priorities of some “groups” I more or less am part of. So, have to figure out what to do with it all. Then there is also my health to consider. There I have to make some serious choices. It’s good to be playing the back nine. It might be nice to know which hole, then again maybe it wouldn’t. I’m content with things as they are. A frustration, though, is that I can’t call my sisters to talk about any of this, yet I feel we are close.
For some keeping the rules of a religious institution is more important than being open to the Spirit and to transformation. I used to be there, although I didn’t see it that starkly. Back then I didn’t know that I didn’t know, and I was okay with it all. Don’t think so now. These days I am increasingly aware that voicing opinions contrary to the accepted line can be a serious matter. While I understand the celibate male clerical insistence that women cannot be ordained, I certainly do not go along with it, or with the argument that Jesus chose only men. History says otherwise. I’ve served with enough women chaplains and clergy of other denominations to know that they have a pastoral sense that we celibate males never will have. Whether we need a separate clergy caste is another question that needs to be looked at, as does mandatory celibacy. The Spirit is happening. Religious terminology is not sacred.
I’m very grateful for my Active Duty Army service. “Take care of your people and the mission will happen.” “Learn from your soldiers, they will teach you what to do and how to do it, listen to your NCOs.” Listen and learn. I’ve learned I don’t have all the answers, and maybe I don’t even understand the questions. Listen. This is where Francis is leading the church, to be a church that listens, open to the presence of the Spirit. Walk along with our people, listen to their story, learn about our own story with them. This is not where the American bishops’ group wants to go — we’re not looking for the truth, we already have the truth, and we’ll tell you what it is, so you listen to us — their version of listening. Do I want to be a part of that? Don’t know. More wandering and wondering. Retirement has its own opportunities. Something about old soldiers just fading away . . . . .?
I’m aware that I see things differently from other people, that I look down the alley with my own set of lights. I know that having and expressing one’s opinions can be dangerous if they differ from accepted lines. This used to bother me, but now does so less and less, to the point that I enjoy it. Something about the back nine. It’s not my problem. What does anybody expect of a “character”? It helps me get away with things.
I’m enjoying where I am on my journey. I’m in a good place. It’s taken a cardiac event for whatever it is to get my attention. Think my attention is gotten. Proceeding apace, not sure how yet. Wouldn’t change a thing. Just sayin . .