Thursday, January 23, 2014


Sometimes I think I should be doing more. I compare myself to my friends, who are doing really cool things - volunteering with local organizations, tutoring kids who have recently come to the US, running a community garden, teaching ESL, leading the youth group at my church. Comparatively, I'm doing next to nothing - no service, little connection with my neighbors and this neighborhood I love. I moved here to my neighborhood to be present with people and to serve, and I don't always feel like I'm doing that. 

Today in my small group we read through the Beatitudes, or the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5. As we were reading, verse 4 stuck out: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Blessed. Blessed. Blessed are those who mourn

This tells me that I am blessed. I am mourning, so I am blessed. 

This makes me think that maybe mourning is just as important as doing cool things. Mourning is just as important to God as serving others - they both are a part of what being like Jesus looks like. 

And this tells me that the church should be a place where mourning is acceptable. The church should be a place where we're not afraid to talk about mourning, just like we're not afraid of talking about justice. 

I may still compare. I may still yearn for the day when I can be out there with my friends, tutoring kids and pulling weeds. But until that time comes I can follow Jesus best by mourning. May that mourning be a blessing to me, to my friends, and to my church community. May we teach one another to be more, act more like the Jesus we follow. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lethargy (9 months)

Yesterday marked 9 months. 

This afternoon I basked in the unseasonably warm afternoon sun that she would have enjoyed because she was always so cold. 

This evening I donned my Christmas present - knee length wool socks made in Russia that she would have rocked because socks were her favorite accessory after the stroke. 

All through today, even with the warm sun and socks, even with it being a lazy Saturday, I felt the lethargy of grief that I've been able to avoid for most of this month. The bone tired, heavy limbed lethargy that makes it hard to do anything but sit on a bench, or binge watch TV. Thankfully today I did both, and I didn't do them alone. (Thanks, friends, for being willing to let me be tired with you, for not expecting me to entertain.)

The lethargy comes in waves, just like the grief. And the waves, at least for now, are fewer and smaller than before. The moon may change the tides, though, in the next few months. But for now I hope that tomorrow the sun and the Sunday bring a little more life.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A new year

The sky is clear tonight, and the stars are bright. I sat on the swing in my backyard and just looked up at the beauty of the stars - my year-round version of Christmas lights.

It's the start of a new year, which generally means you pause and reflect on the old year. But I don't really want to do that. It's too painful, too raw, too heavy right now. And those reflections will come in their own time - we're getting near the time when the cancer came back last year, where my mom really started to die. Those reflections will be fresh this year in February, March, April. So I'll wait until then to look back at those months.

But instead of reflecting, today I caught myself thinking "what if?" What if my dad had never gotten hurt? What if my mom never had cancer? What if? What if?

And, because I'm a details person, I thought it through. I thought through the what ifs. Would I have spent as much time in San Jose caring for my mom if my dad hadn't had any physical limitations? Would she still have become my best friend? Would I be as close to my dad as I am? Would I have have such a deep friendship with person a, stayed in touch with person b, reconnected with person c? What if? What if?

The short answer: no. No, I probably wouldn't have spent as much time in San Jose, I probably wouldn't have known my mom as my best friend, I probably wouldn't be as close as my dad, or with friends a, b and c. And I wouldn't be who I am today, a woman who has done her work and engaged with her grief and come out the other side, strong and courageous, a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox.

Last year was a hard year. (That's an understatement.) But it was a beautiful year, too. So I will live in that dissonance, and remember the year, in time, with tears of pain and of joy. And in the meantime I look forward to the new year. I hope to find life and joy and good things in 2014. Or at the very least, I hope it's just a little better than 2013.