Mr. Cloudy's Shelter
A Place to Listen and be Heard

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hopes, fears, faith

This is much too long, but it's been a while.

It's been a painful summer in many ways. I resigned as an elder at my church and quit going, unsure whether the Christian faith really works for me. I've been trying to practice Buddhist mindfulness. I finally talked honestly and completely with my family of origin about my religious pilgrimage over the last 10 years, and how I'm not really practicing the same faith any more. My doctoral advisor finally admitted he wasn't going to finish working my dissertation and the school told me I'm out of luck, and my chance for the degree is over. I've lost a friend to cancer. My daughter moved out to college (it's close by, but still the changes add up). And money stuff isn't good. I've felt a lot of uncertainty about my job status as well (perhaps it was unwarranted in hindsight, but ...). Seems like I'm missing a few things, but you get the idea - a lot of grieving.

So, how's that for upbeat? But what else could you expect from Mr. Cloudy.

There are many bright spots as well (my wife who continues to walk beside me, some great colleagues at work who not only put up with my moods, but seem to find a way to even enjoy me. But as usual I want to talk about the dark stuff.

Life keeps reminding me that I'm not in control, and I don't like it one bit. Of course it would frighten me to be in charge of things too (which is what control ultimately aims at), but there doesn't seem to be a happy medium at least at an existential level.

And I see how much I set myself apart from life and others, assuming people are weary of me because I am weary of me, trying to escape anxiety, fear and depression.

Something tells me that it is time to quit running away and time to actually experience all of the stuff of life. And the reason seems to be that running away alienates me from the core of who I am - it's me running away from me in the end, not me running away from some external threat.

Sure, there's a lot of yucky stuff "out there" to feel sad about, rejected about, tired about, angry about, etc. But what really hurts most is the inner alienation, the inner sense that I'm too weak, too incompetent, too emotional, too "overwhelmable" to really face life.

And now I can also add anger to the mix. Anger I can now feel but that I can seem to do nothing productive with.

It seems the only thing I sometimes can succeed in doing that makes any difference is to find compassion for myself and to have courage to sit still. Sit down with all of the ugly, scary stuff, and invite it to tea. But I'm so good at running it sometimes takes days, weeks, months, years for me to even see I am running.

I am convinced that life at arms length sucks.

I am trying to learn whether life embraced is better. I think I've been on this journey for a while, but sometimes in life things just become more concrete choices, and for better or worse, I'm there - the way backwards is closing, and I can only hope the way forward will show itself to me.

I don't expect to be delivered. I expect to have to keep sitting still. But it's uncomfortable as hades. Is sitting still a journey? Maybe it is a journey inward to find my true self, maybe it is losing life to find it. Maybe it is giving up hope of escape, in order to find that the $#!+ itself stinks but it may also fertilizer.

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