Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"transitions and leaving..."

"You're lovely
even with your scars;
lovely just the way you are.

So open up your lovely heart,
don't try so hard..."

Sometimes, I can read something that touches a nerve so deep it drives me to my knees -- or to laying my head in my arms and just weeping.

My friend - and much-admired women's historian - Sally Roesch Wagner, posted a piece at the end of the summer about "leaving the lake" in which she writes:

“You must be leaving soon,” my daughter observed. “Yes, why do you say that?” “Because you just picked a fight with me.”

It was one of those golden moments when intimacy mirrors deep truths about yourself. I pick fights when I leave. “I don’t love you anymore,” “You suck,” “I don’t even like you.”

I’m in a fight with the lake right now. Stupid lake. It’s overcast and cold and gloomy and I’m mad at it. Because tomorrow morning I will leave it for another year.

Recognizing my pattern, owning it, the dam bursts and I am crying sad because I will miss this lake I love with all the 72 years my body has known her.
That is me. Or at least it has been me for most of my life. A family member once said, "It's not worth coming to visit you unless I can stay for 10 days. It takes you 3 days to open up, and three days to prepare for my leaving. You pick fights or look for ways to isolate yourself days before I have to depart."

She was right. I know this about myself. God bless my husband for knowing that "comings and goings" are hard for me. Whether I am going away, or he is, he knows enough to carve out space in our home for those transitions -- from being together, to being alone, to being together again.  He gives me space to grieve.  And for some reason, it is a grieving for me -- and  I have to process it each time.

So, obviously these feelings are not new for me. But seeing someone that I admire so much, willing to actually own that pattern of emotional fragility herself, was somehow heart-fissuring for me. I wasn't alone. Something of the brittleness in me -- about how I see myself -- started to yield its hardness. I could look at myself through the lens of self-compassion.

I love that God brings those wiser guides into our lives to help us through the labyrinth of self-acceptance. Sally's insight about her own sorrow when "leaving the lake," gave me permission to begin to look more deeply at my own grief about transitions.

Sometimes, I try too hard. I don't "do" some things -- like entering a crowded room -- with ease. I tend to need a job, a role, a name badge that says, "hi, I am Cate and I am here in this role..." to navigate those situations. Just walking in and finding my "tribe," is terrifying for me. But knowing that I am not alone, and that there just might be someone else in the "room" -- or in the world -- that is feeling just as awkward, takes my focus off of my own awkwardness.  It makes me look for her (or him) when I enter that room, so that I can try and make it easier for them too.

Amy Grant's "Don't Try So Hard," is like a friend looking me in the eye and saying -- "you've got this." Sally's post about "leaving the lake" will now join Amy's song like a big sister who puts her arm through mine and guides me forward, saying -- all the way, "I'm here, we can do this - together."  We can do this, because we have a God who loves us and has sent us into each other's lives as angels of mercy and compassion. Whether it's in a song, a moment of self-reflection shared with a reader, or just a smile across a crowded room.

If there is some way I can "be there" for you -- please let me know.

This blog is here to remind us all that, "we are not alone."

offered with Love,


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