Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Common Ground


An old friend from college reached out to me on Facebook. We were close during freshman year and always sympatico but we long ago lost touch. He fell in love with and married a woman from our then circle right after graduation and they have lived happily ever after. Their girls are now grown, the older one married. He and his wife went to Chicago for the weekend and they went dancing, he said. He wrote: "It helps to do things like this sometimes. It makes me feel as if I am still alive."

As if I am still alive.

I read once that it is important for couples to do new things together, that experiencing the mutually unfamiliar with another person bonds you. But my husband doesn't have much time for extracurriculars lately. He goes to work, goes to meetings, comes home and just wants to crash. Meanwhile I've been at home working all day and I'm ready to get out the house. We're a little out of sync over here. I'm not complaining, just taking in what is.

For the moment, my husband is very involved with our little church in transition. They are seeking a new minister, and as senior warden, my husband is helping to push that big stone up the mountain. I am not much of a church person though I do chat often with my higher power and I definitely like the concept of guardian angels. But I've just never been that church-every-Sunday-join-the-committees kind of soul. He is.

He has meetings most nights of the week and is on community boards and is very much keeping that little neighborhood church with its many needy souls humming along. His vestry managed to organize the fundraising and renovation of the beautiful but crumbling house that will serve as the rectory for the new minister. It is a city landmark building, which meant additional hoops to jump through in the renovation. But they did it. At the start it seemed an impossibly huge task for a poor little church whose basement gets flooded every time there is a hard rain, so that the undocumented homeless who shelter there come evening have to move their cots into the sanctuary. But somehow, they got it done. I am so impressed. They had the final walk through just last night.

Also last night, in a soaking rain, my husband was pumping water out the basement along with the resident jack-of-all-trades who is also the mail clerk—a lot of homeless people get their mail at the church. And now, after three years of what is called "appreciative inquiry" they are on the verge of hiring a new priest. I think it must be very satisfying to know that without your efforts the whole enterprise might have collapsed. I'm proud of him for the way he has stood in the breach for the various constituencies of the church, the people who sit on the steps all day because they have nowhere else to be, the recovered and recovering addicts, the homeless and the ex-cons who found religion, the college educated liberals with a passion for social justice, the former 60s radicals, the elders in search of community, the musicians and artists and activists, the people of all colors and persuasions who have found a place to belong. In many ways, my husband is their common ground, the one they can all relate to, the one who can translate the various and often competing concerns among the different groups.

Where was I going with this? What am I really saying here?

That I need occupation beyond my work. I need my own cause.

So I can feel as if I'm still alive.


12 comments:

  1. We both have husbands who are certainly not afraid to work, to dream, to make dreams happen. We are fortunate in that.
    Perhaps you and he could have a once-a-week or twice-a-month date night? Just the two of you, going someplace you've never been before?
    And is it time to plan a little get-away, even if it has to be far in the future?

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    1. Dear Mary, I am sure you are right. xo

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  2. On a similar note, I recently watched a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert and she talked about "going home" to find motivation/drive and through her talk I equated that to finding purpose. Then proceeded to freak out because other than supporting my family, I feel no deep purpose in my life.

    I like your post better. :)

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    1. Dear Steph, I truly believe that there is no greater purpose on this green earth than supporting one's family, especially if that family has supported you.The only issue for me as a mother is that my kids are now grown and the support they need from me is less active. And I actually think that an important way to support them now is to take care of myself, to feed myself spiritually and creatively, to be ok. I'm not there yet, but at least I understand the goal.

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  3. I'll just think about this today and mull a bit. Sometimes I feel "too alive," and just want to rest -- I'm actually TOO purposeful and have no time or chance to just be.

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    1. Darling Elizabeth, I totally get that. I, too, wish you had more time to rest. Hugs.

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  4. This is such an interesting point you raise here Angella. I, too will be mulling it over. Our daughter and her young family will soon move away and I can already feel the emptiness beginning to seep in.

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    1. Yolie, let's hold hands and figure it out together.

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  5. I cannot wait to see what you come up with...Whatever it is, it will be wonderful.

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    1. e, thank you for that faith in me. let's see if it is well placed. xo

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  6. Your husband sounds like a man who knows how to make things happen and that church that you describe so beautifully and well is a story unto itself (or a book or two). But it does sound to me like you miss him, and I hope you'll follow your friend's advice and do something "unfamiliar" with him soon, even if it's just a walk to a different neighborhood, and that you'll do it more and more often. I'm sure he misses you, too.

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    1. Andrea, he is a good one. thanks for this. xo

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