Although I don’t really believe it, my 45th birthday probably lands well into my midlife era. I would consider myself quite blessed to live to 90, so at least that part of the math indicates that we are here.
I write this from my living room couch, listening to my wife chat with a friend, watching my nearly-eight-year-old son watch a dumb cartoon movie, and after checking in on my eleven-year-old daughter who is taking a rare early evening nap. She must be sick.
i write this in the evening after the last classroom session for the Celtic Spirituality course that I teach at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Discovering this subject was a life-changing experience for me seven years ago. Finishing my doctorate – which I did primarily so that I could teach at the graduate level – was a hard-earned victory in perserverence. Teaching at this particular school has been incredibly fulfilling; the ethos of the school and its students is a magical place of home and of life for me. Today the students did short presentations on Celtic prayer, and we had blessings for making coffee, for serving cupcakes to neighbors, a prayer for my body “(which I hate)”, “a blessing that I need myself to hear” – so many heartfelt engagements with the Sacred, with Beauty, the Trinitarian God. I now have the complementary papers to read and grade, and in two weeks I read another batch of final papers from these students. I no longer am surprised when my eyes tear up reading as students wrestle with this perspective on God and what beauty they are being drawn toward.
I write this with books at my side – three more that I brought to class to recommend. I know that I am now known by my students as an overzealous book-recommender. Today I recommended books on yoga, on doodling, poetry from David Whyte, the challenge of incarnation – to live as human beings – from Michael Frost. I am also surrounded by stacks of books, papers and research for three upcoming courses – a pilgrimage to Iona with these students; a readings in Christian spirituality course that I will teach for the first time in June; a spirituality of place course that I am thrilled to co-teach with a dear peer and deep human being. The unknown of what is ahead is thrilling to me.
I write in gratitude for a “day-job” with a good company and a great team of partners, the first time in many years that I have felt content with a software job, knowing that even if I am not able to transition to full-time teaching/writing/spiritual direction/etc, that I will be happy working in software until I can retire from the industry.
I write eighteen months into daily, chronic migraine. This is a path I would not choose, but it has taught me much about myself and about so many other things. I have learned to trust holistic medicine, to breathe and to move and to meditate, to actively choose to eat and act healthily, to effectively deal with stress. One of my health care providers, on each visit, gives me nutritional input, physical assignments, and tells me to keep an attitude of forgiveness at all times. I have learned to embrace my own frailty, knowing that I may at any moment lose physical or mental or emotional health, but knowing that there is a grounded Presence even when those things occur. I understand more about my body and my embodiment. I am more forgiving of my limitations than I have been in previous years.
I write in awe and in wonder of a much-revisited and much-revised perspective on faith and on God. I no longer am comfortable as I once was in knowing an impersonal and abstract Truth; now I embrace Truth as the embrace of a personal God. I feel little need to discuss ‘correct’ doctrine, much less to argue it. I learn from many who may not land within my expanding understanding of orthodoxy, though I greatly prefer learning from those whose orthopraxy overshadows their doctrines. I love the God of mystery, the God of the mystics, the God of beauty and presence and compassion and kindness. I have little interest in the easily-contained god of bumper stickers and fist-shaking platitudes. I have much less idea how I would label my positional beliefs than ever before, and yet am quite comfortable knowing that even these will change, and trusting that the Wild Goose is leading the way and that I follow on pilgrimage the best I can, and that getting lost is part of the adventure of faith.
In midlife, I am finding contentment in this moment, even though I know I can never stay here, nor wish to.
I finally can say that, if this is all I ever achieve or accomplish, it is enough.