Poets, writers, artists and musicians speak on levels beyond plain conversation. Often, I mark and save passages and excerpts. Consider this one by Denver Moore, in his novel “Same Kind of Different as Me.”
“If you want to know the truth about it, nothin ever really ends but something new don’t begin,” I said. “When somethin ends in our sight, it begins somewhere else where we can’t hear it or see it or feel it. We live in two worlds — a physical world and a spiritual world ... When we come through this world, we just change form ’fore we go on to the next.”
Nothing ever ends. Something new doesn’t begin. On a spiritual level, it holds plain truth. Life and death are not simply face-value realities. No, this is a shifting in being, existing. No longer does one exist to do. One dwells in a liminal space beyond the concrete and simple. Yet simplicity suggests this is the truest, plainest possibility. Otherwise, we would all collapse in mourning or in distracting ourselves from grief.
We prefer to picture the old and beleaguered year past like a mashup of Father Time and the Sickle-bearer of Death and Demise. But there is much to learn from that which was. Only in retrospect will we be able to fully comprehend the beauty and destruction, the evil and joy of 2019 and its larger decade.
This week I listened to a broadcast where an author invited the audience to contact him about their stories from a particular date. Tuning in mid-interview, I missed any of the specific names or program. When pushed by the original host of a similar interview years ago, the writer chose out of the air a date: Dec. 23, 1986. Listeners wrote and became part of the book. They called in and told their stories.
First, I listened to the stories of those who shared much as Robert Fulghum’s contributors to True Love. Many possessed vivid recollections. I heard the voice of a veteran who cared for a friend dying from AIDS for three days in an era of terror regarding the mysterious disease. Another told of being on a road trip for the holidays leading up to a season of significant self-understanding. Sometimes, such stories remind me that many of us simply want to speak our stories aloud and for others to make space for them.
Perhaps as we begin a new year, which truly is an extension of the one gone by, we can enter into it fully — not simply with hope or fading promises, but with intentional living and being and doing.
Another author writes:
As many years as I wanted to wear a clerical collar and as hard as I worked to get one, taking it off turned out to be as necessary for my salvation as putting it on. Being set apart was the only way I could learn how much I longed to be with everyone else. Being in charge was the only way I could learn how much I wanted to be in community.” Barbara Brown Taylor and I hold this in common. She wrote of it in her book, “Leaving Church.”
Sometimes, things that have been and are no longer ... well, we need to put them down ... if but for a little while. Sometimes, the shift needs to take place for restoration of wholeness. And, as she writes, salvation.
A blessed year to you all.