Sunday, May 31, 2015


I hate when people leave.

I have always been the person who leaves. This was not my doing--my family moved every 2 years on average and I went with them. When I got to college, met Bixby, and settled into my place, I swore I would never leave. At least not without major personal disaster. Because that can happen. But I wasn't going to move for a better neighborhood or house, I wasn't going to leave just because the future looked bright in some other city. I was going to stay.

Which means other people leave.

Today at my church, my lovely parish church with a hundred years of staying put right where it is, Sr. Hildegarde got up and made an announcement that began with a reference of standing on the edge of a large body of water and knowing you have to jump in, but it will get easier once you take the plunge.

And I thought...I really thought...she's going to make me do something.

Because Sister is always making me do something. Always. She is very persuasive and knows who I am and knows what I'm good at and always gets me to do something. This is often annoying but always good. It's always right to make a banner for church or help clean on a Wednesday afternoon or call a convent to see if they have extra fabric or go hunt down Christmas trees or run children's liturgy or attend RCIA sessions or whatever it is. It's always something and it's always a good idea and it always makes me do something.

I thought it was going to be, "you all are going to take a plunge into a new program devised by the archdiocese to do _______."And I was going to wind up going to meetings.

I know, a little cynical. But I also was sitting there knowing that I would already be doing it. I would. I love my church and my place and I knew I would do whatever it was and think my way into and out of it.

Instead she announced that she's moving. To Texas. At the end of the summer. Oh no.

I realized in the seconds that followed, the moments when she said things that were probably highly complementary to our church and people, the things I have no idea what they might have been because I was realizing this instead, I realized in those next moments that she has been one of the constants in my return to my faith as an adult. And in that moment, it was sort of devastating.

It's so funny--I sometimes stress out about the day that will come when Fr. Miguel will move on to another parish and then what will happen at my church? In my life? But I never considered her departure. I mean, people leave and retire and die and whatnot, but it isn't as written in stone like pastors, the arbitrary moving, shifting around of important folks.

So she's leaving, going home, and things will change and here we will be. And it won't be the same and that'll be ok and we'll be fine.

But we will miss her.

I will miss the times when she introduces me and calls me a "young mother in the parish".

I will miss the moments when, at a meeting, creativity becomes a person at the table with us and we plan something beautiful.

I will miss the constant striving to improve on what we've done. The best thing about Sister is that she never, ever, ever, ever says, "well, this is the way we've always done it, so..." unless the second half of that sentence is "we're going to change it."

I will miss her positive assumptions that we can pull things off and make things beautiful and make them work and try again when they don't.

But I won't miss our friendship because the world is a smaller place than it once was and I assume we will remain friends. That's what the internet is for, right?

Like I told my students when they graduated and headed out into the world: Go. Be good. Do good. And come back sometime and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What I gained, what I lost

He walked into my room, it was midafternoon in October, and he said, "so, you have a place."

I had a place. I nodded. He'd found my place, my place where I'd written and shared and lived for 9 years. I felt like he'd caught me with my blouse undone. But he hadn't, obviously, and all he'd done was find my place. My treehouse, my corner of the world, my little window where I shared who I was.

"And I want you to do something for me," he started, but I interrupted him.

"You want me to close up shop," I said simply, not a question. The look on his face confused me. It obviously wasn't that.

"No, no, no, not that. I want you to share it with our people."

Our people.

No effing way.

But he looked at me so encouragingly, I told him I'd think about it.

I thought about it. And then I made a few copies and read them aloud. And then a few more.

Our people? They fell in love with me. I shared my place and helped them come up with their own places. Their own way to share, with me, with each other. And they did share.

So I shared some more. I opened the book of who I was and smacked it down on the table. Here. This is how you make a life worth living. Many of them told me how much it mattered to hear this, to read and think about this. To learn what was important.

And it was good.

But in the end, it was too much.

I never do things halfway. I burn a bright fiery arrow through my life and yours and it was too much for my buttoned up place.

So I had to shut down and shut up and think a minute.

What did I gain? Perspective. Some lovely adoration. I found myself across the desk from many of my people who had never connected with someone in my position before. And I cherish that. What else? I honed some writing skills. I got brave and shared--in fact, so brave, I wound up joining a writers' group and got more brave. I watched my people learn to spill their purse but not hang their dirty laundry. I laughed a lot. So much.

What did I lose? Well, I lost my place. I had to close it up and retreat. He wanted me out there, to share, to be the person I am, authentically, everywhere. But I couldn't. I don't think he understood what that meant when he suggested it. I live large and loud and I love people and I say what I think. And the lines started to blur between what I could say here and there and everywhere and it got to the point that I actually started panicking about who I was in the other places of my life. I started worrying about showing tattoos at my daughters' school. I started worrying about laughter and connection. It started to shatter something of who I was.

So I spent the weekend in the hammock, at the horseshoe pits, at the creek, at the table. And I remembered who I was.

Gretchen turned to me last night and said, "That place where you work? It isn't you. It isn't for you."

Ursula, who knows of what she speaks, said, "I can't believe you've lasted this long."

And so many of the people who share my day told me, so honestly and selfishly and authentically, "You are so good. You don't belong here."

Ok, God. I'm listening.

In the end, I think that's what I gained most of all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brand New Start

You can't go back and make a fresh start. All you can do is start new from now.

It's been a long time at my old location,  a long time out to pasture, and it was time for a move, for a new start. Sometimes you have to pick up and try again in a new place.

Many of you know me. I'm Sally. I live in a brokedown palace in a small neighborhood in a larger place. I share my home with cats and people, the people on the sidebar and the cats, well, I haven't caught good photos of the cats recently. We have deep roots here, so deep they are disrupting our lateral sewer line and something may need to be done about that.

We have neighbors with whom we share a life, sometimes easy, sometimes not. Our lives overlap and intersect all over the place.

We have a church. A beautiful old-world church filled with even more beautiful friends, neighbors, and relatives.

We have a school. Two, actually, but that's about to change to...two. More Euler diagrams.

We have extended families. Sisters and brothers close by, parents, cousins, aunts all intersecting our lives in different ways. Our circles extend a thousand miles away and also just around the corner, again and again.

I'm not easy to get along with. I'm working on that. I'm not very nice. Working on that a little less. But I am exactly what I appear to be, at all times. And that, I've learned, is often more valuable than nice. But I do try.

Right now London's at a girl scout meeting. Brooklyn is sitting on the couch with two cats, learning how to change her ringtones. Niles is down the road visiting a neighbor in a backyard that is both fun and nice. Ours is fun. Next door is nice. But a few houses down, those adjectives overlap.

Math, coffee, love; games, travel, family; God shows up sometimes and I use strong language on occasion. I like to spill my purse and let you sort through. At least a bit.

I've recently picked up roots from my 10 year old blog, packed it away for me to read later, and put it on the shelf.

So here I am, starting new.

It's good.