Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This blog has moved

The blog formerly known as "One foot in ... " has moved to "Widening Circles."

I'm past wanting to be defined by my denominational deliverations and I'd like to have more control over the blog itself, so I decided it was time to move on. I've packed up everything that was here and taken it with me, though; it's all part of the same story.

The title comes from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. It resonates with me in part because I think I have spent my life circling around God in one way or another, but also because the phrase "widening circles" brings to mind an image of ripples spreading across the surface of a pond. I believe our prayers and actions and attitudes do cause ripples that spread across the world, and I try to be mindful of that.

I haven't decided on a blog name for myself, though, since I'm still not brave enough to go with my real name. Widening doesn't have much appeal for obvious reasons, and w.c. doesn't seem quite right, either. I'm leaning toward Hope, but we'll see ...

Meanwhile, update your links and come on over!

(Click here to be redirected.)

Tempus fugit

I thought four days in the company of the generations immediately above and below me in the family tree would leave me with plenty of blog material, but not so. It only left me exhausted. Here is the bottom line: I'm really glad that I'm not old, and I'm really glad that I'm not young.

I did have a laugh at myself on Saturday. In the afternoon, I found myself in a room permeated by the distinctive, lingering scent of a certain smokable weed while everyone sat around complaining that they should have been doing work but they were goofing off instead. Ah, yes, I thought, this feels very familiar; I could almost believe I'd gone back in time. Then, at 10:30 p.m., they all went to a party and I went to bed. I can only imagine what their hormones were urging them toward; my were telling me to keep the sleeping bag unzipped so I could periodically slip out of it to vent the heat I was feeling. (The room was pretty warm, but ...)

Oh, yeah, make no mistake: It definitely is 30 years later!

Monday, November 06, 2006


I am learning that sadness can be more than a feeling. It's become a place I inhabit.

I'm talking here about sadness for the home I've left. This sadness is both more and less than grief, that shocked, protesting reaction to having things torn away from us. People talk about working their way through grief, or coming to terms with it, both concepts born of their hope that in time, the feeling will lessen.

You learn to inhabit sadness when you've embraced it. I don't want the feeling to go away. I don't seek sympathy; I don't feel regret. Walking away was my own choice; I needed to be someplace else. I think I knew this sadness would be part of it, though I'm not sure I understood just how vast it would be. Now I need to keep this huge empty place inside my heart because I need to remember what was there--because, as paradoxical as it may seem, I am what was there.

Living in sadness can stretch us, I think. I am learning a greater compassion, because we've all lost something, starting with Eden.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More endless cycles

Once upon a time there was a young couple who fell in love and married. They got a mortgage and bought a house, then a car. Soon there were babies and baptisms, first communions and confirmations, and before they knew it there were graduations and weddings and more baptisms.

So far so good, but now comes the hard part. They got old.

Could this frail elderly man with the uncertain gait possibly be the strong Dad who used to carry me in from the car when I fell asleep on the way home from family gatherings? Could this difficult, obviously sick and suffering woman who has a different dumb excuse for not going to the doctor every time I see her possibly be the Mom who nursed me through rheumatic fever and a dozen other childhood illnesses?

Nothing pretty about getting old, so far as I can see.

Now I have taken two days off from work and driven to get them and bring them back to my house for a visit. Give me strength ...

Tonight FavoriteSon will drive out from his place in the city to have dinner with us, and he will be gracious and charming (how come he got to be so nice after he stopped living here?!) and they will comment later on what a good man he's grown up to be (he has). And the evening will be a joy to all of us.

And tomorrow I will drive them home again (whew!) and continue on to Boston, where for the first time I'll be a houseguest in FavoriteDaughter's apartment. And so it goes; I'm feeling a little older already.

I'll drive back Sunday, and by the time Monday morning rolls around, I'm sure I'll be more than ready to go back to work--and relax.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November 1, All Saints Day

A day when I usually spend some time thinking about my godfather, my father's uncle, the humble grocer who is regarded as the family saint. It felt so special to be singled out for his affection when I was little. He was also the family bartender, and he would pick me up and sit me on the counter beside him while he worked. I thought, based on the experience of these family gatherings, that there were only three alcoholic beverages in the world: martinis, Manhattans, and beer. Martinis were served with olives, which were good, but Manhattans came with maraschino cherries, which were even better, and every so often as he worked he would slip me one. Life didn't get any better than that.

My cousin, his daughter, told me a few years ago that she thought he would be proud of the adult I grew up to be, which meant a lot to me. I don't know what he'd think about where things have gone since then, though. It's hard to imagine that the guy who was a quiet, steady presence at the 6:30 a.m. Mass would approve of this Episcopal thing I've got going. Ah, well.

I was trying to explain how all of this feels to a friend who is not religious, and the closest equivalent I could think of was emigration. Among my family and friends there are quite a few people who were born in other countries. They left home for good reasons, and found a place for themselves here. They don't want to go back, but even so, many of them still regard that first country as home. I think I know how that feels.

We grow up, we leave home, and no matter how fondly we may look back on those early days, there's no going back. Ain't nobody gonna pick me up, sit me on the counter, and feed me maraschino cherries again--or at least, they better not try!