Sunday, January 20, 2008

Today in Church, Today at Home

A young woman of my congregations stood during joys and concerns to share that, after a complete course of treatment (chemo and radiation), she has been declared cancer-free by her doctor. As I looked down at my paper (the back of the last page of my sermon) to record this joy for our prayers, I was overwhelmed by tears. I tried (unsuccessfully) to keep this from the congregation. But it was pretty obvious. I was weeping for joy.

This work we ministers get to do is such a privilege. Of course, I was weeping for two joys: that this vibrant young woman has a second chance at a full life, and that my Beloved was, also, given the "all-clear" this week. It was the coming together of my two worlds, and I was not able to manage it, control it, or direct it. It simply was.

I have just returned to my house in the moonlight; the moon is high and clear, and when I stepped out of my car, the cold blue light shone, almost, brightly. My breath made little clouds. The cold pricked at my lungs; it almost felt like the bright blue moon was reaching into me. I was with Beloved for much of the day after church and another denominational obligation. And, I awakened at her house this morning.

Our weekend plans are somewhat complicated. We are currently going through a re-negotiation of who shall sleep where, and when. We want to be together, but it is not always so easy to accomplish that objective. Having children and a visitation schedule means that we can do this two weekends each month, sometimes three. I have mentioned how Beloved loves her home, and well she should. It is beautiful. It is a haven of order and calm and, always, very good jazz. And wine. And it is her preferred place to be. Understandably.

But Beloved's need to be in her home is a little beyond her pride of place, or her delight in the beauty of her surroundings. I think it is related to the chaos of her childhood, in which her home was no such thing; in fact it was a place of predation and rape. Beloved's home is truly her haven now. She needs it.

My house is organizationally challenged, as I have previously mentioned. But I have a larger, more comfortable bed. And I sleep better in it, especially when I have to preach in the morning. And, in fact, Beloved sleeps better with me in my bed than she does with me in her bed. That is, when I can persuade her to come to my house. This is not an easy thing to do. I try to not be annoyed by it; she really can't help the deep, instinctual need she has to be in her own space. But sometimes I get into a bad (mental) place, in which I feel her resistance to my home as a rejection of me. Then things are painful. This happened to us this weekend.

We love one another. That is our bottom line. As I returned home tonight in the bright blue moonlight, I came from a time of peace and refreshment with my Beloved, in the place that is her dearest haven. She is my home. That is enough for me.


Anonymous said...

Cecilia, this is beautiful. I haven't read your blog in a while, and I just stopped by again, and am so glad to hear that Beloved is ok. And your words about the young woman and the prayers in church today were so poignant as well. You said exactly what my mentor in Omaha (the Episcopal priest I interned with last year) always says -- that the work is ministry is a "privilege." It overwhelms me at times, to think of it. I am in the midst of the formal discernment process here in Atlanta and am constantly amazed by the enormity of this role I am contemplating taking on... it's people like you who continue to inspire me and give me hope. Blessings.

Kate said...

Today, a woman at the church where I'm part-time administrator, and serving my pre-internship placement as a DivStudent told me about her husband's illness and tests. He's had surgery for lung cancer sometime -- I don't know how long ago. More than five years. And ten days ago, she told me "he isn't right". Not eating, listless. He was seeing a doctor about his prostate last Tuesday, and wound up hospitalized. They put a stent in his bile duct, to relieve jaundice.

The symptoms she described sound like my mother's, 18 months ago. The pancreatic cancer was blocking Mum's bile duct, and there was liver cancer too. Seven weeks from diagnosis to death. Time enough, actually, to heal 51 years of a difficult relationship.

I was so touched that the woman at church, in her 80's, told me what she did. She didn't SAY she was afraid, but she is.

I'm glad the young woman in your congregation and your Beloved are well. I'm also grateful for hearing my friend's fear, for being allowed in that close, for knowing deep inside how scared she is, because I was. It is a great privilege.

Blessings on you both, Cecelia.

Barbara B. said...

"She is my home." -- that is a beautiful thought

Jan said...

Like Barbara, I love your thought that Beloved is your "home." You are understanding in your love for her. I like reading about your relationship and love for each other. Very beautiful.

Francine said...

Part of the vows my friends made at their "practice wedding" (since they will probably not be able to legally marry in WI in the foreseeable future):

"Your heart is my sanctuary, your arms are my home"

I cried. (Well, it was a WEDDING!)


more cows than people said...

gorgeous post.

thank God for those moments when the privilege is clear and enormous.

and for two homes.