dancing alone

oh. okay.

i am doing different things these days. getting up at a different time; putting on “good” clothes and watching the world go by from the second floor of a glass office tower. trying to crawl out of the hole i fell into, this summer. listening to a different pastor. paying a therapist to talk about why i feel like i am watching my life go by like a mediocre television show. paying for yoga classes and gym memberships and craft supplies and anything to keep me busy. paying and paying and paying.

so right now if you’re looking at me 
you can assume that i am thirsty 
and a good day is one when that ache in my brain 
can remain at a doable three 
and i don't really want your sympathy 
i'm just telling you so you'll understand 
this is me, sincerely 
doing the best that i can

what you don’t do

in all of the years we have spent together, all of the eight-hour car rides, the hours waiting together at airports, in transatlantic flight, in hospital rooms, the long silent hours at night when the kids are asleep and we are stuck in the same room together, all of the winter beaches we have sat on looking out at the ocean, he has never, incredibly, incomprehensibly, said anything important to me.
– gabrielle hamilton, blood, bones and butter

embracing a willingness to suffer is seen as a sign of allowing scripture to form and shape our characters and refine us to be more like christ. it is a tangible way to avoid using scripture to meet our needs, fulfill our wants, or cater to our feelings. in contrast to a triumphalistic expectation that following christ will cause you to prosper in every way, embracing a robust theology of suffering postures the disciple to follow in the footsteps of the lord, the apostles, and the early church. a robust theology of suffering is not a place of hopelessness or resignation. rather, it is a space in which self-giving love and maturity flourish as one grows in dependence on god’s grace in our weakness. it is a place of radical trust.
– wendy vanderwal-gritter, generous spaciousness

Can we talk about Susan’s fabulous adventures after Narnia? The ones where she wears nylons and elegant blouses when she wants to, and short skirts and bright lipstick when she wants to, and hiking boots and tough jeans and big men’s plaid shirts when she feels like backpacking out into the mountains and remembering what it was to be lost in a world full of terrific beauty— I know her siblings say she stops talking about it, that Susan walks away from the memories of Narnia, but I don’t think she ever really forgot. here


“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”

cs lewis

who cares what that is

the first thing to know is that my grandmother died. the funeral was this past monday. funerals are awful and weird – dozens of people (my grandmother’s nieces and nephews, cousins of my mom and her siblings, family friends, my uncle’s in-laws) all trying to balance the excitement of having everyone together in the same room with the fact that oh, right. this is supposed to be sad.

the service was held in the church she and my grandfather attended for something like 60+ years. it was led by her pastor, a man i had never met before but decided i didn’t mind (in the way that you decide you don’t mind cabbage in bags of mixed salad greens; small doses). the whole day got easier when i realized that nobody needed or expected me to do anything except follow instructions – stand in line with my parents while we all file into the church; get into the car to go to the cemetery for the internment; get back into the car and go back into the church and attend lunch with 200 people i have no memory of ever meeting prior to this moment. help people pass around plates of sweet pickles and chopped ham sandwiches. answer polite questions about who my parents are (those people over there, one of whom is talking about her lymph nodes) and how my mom is doing (kind of awful but mostly because of the chemo).

i was not that close to my grandmother. i was one of the ‘away family’ growing up in british columbia; seeing her once a year was a big deal. i did not have a good conception of her as a person back then and even when we moved to ontario we didn’t connect that well. she was passionately devoted to church work but even knowing that didn’t make her more accessible. i spent most of my life having no idea how to talk to her.

at the funeral i learned that most people considered her to be an incredibly generous, extremely organized person who worked tirelessly for several volunteer projects. she sewed bags that she sold and then donated the proceeds to cancer research. she liked singing; she made chopped ham sandwiches for every church function for 50 years.

beyond the usual cliched regrets i wish that someone would have taken the time to put her life into some context for me. i think we would have gotten along as people.