Part the first of this blog was my December / Advent synchroblog: planting hope.
Everything about the city intrigues me; seems as if those of us who live, work, study, create, or re-create in the cities need a specific kind of stuff to keep them fed, productive and complete; to quote myself I'll call it "all kinds of urban fare for wayfaring." No one ever claimed it would be easy; given my total background, propensities, and history, I guess the hill's always been steep, but when I wasn't alone, it didn't often feel that way. I'm still an artist and a dreamer, but time's been lost, time's still slipping away. Will I find a road that leads me home? Will that road find me?
The day before Advent 1 I visited the University of San Diego site to find Sunday liturgy times; since I was planning to attend Lessons and Carols at 2 pm, why not attend church Sunday morning at the university and then chill for a while? I went to the University Ministry page and there was the famous quote from Howard Thurman, "Where does my deep gladness meet the world’s great hungers?" plus "What is the meaning of my life and what should I do with it? What is my life’s purpose?" Since I first learned of the To Write Love on Her Arms movement and cause, I've designed for TWLOHA Day every November. TWLOHA reminds everyone, "You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters." Our lives are about story; gradually I'm becoming aware my life has held no stories for decades now. Stories happen when we're involved with each other...
To continue with the Advent topic, on the first Sunday of Advent, I did attend 11 am liturgy at USD's Immaculata parish and hung around until 2 for Lessons and Carols at Founder's Chapel. I went Friday evening, too―it was that good! I wanted to hear it all again, maybe especially Daniel Pinkham's Christmas Cantata. Pinkham was music director at King's Chapel, Boston, where I played at least one solo recital, as well as recitals at quite a few other somewhat elite venues, not to mention the many vocal and instrumental recitals I accompanied. In a past life? I keep wondering if "time takes all but memories" is true. For a while I almost regularly looked through my stacks of recital programs and academic transcripts, trying to convince myself I'd been there, done that; the friends I was there doing those experiences with no longer were in my life.
Year round we watch military homecomings on TV; have I mentioned I get the impression people are supposed to be connected to other people, miss them when they're gone, long for their return, be excited to see them again? Again last week the local network affiliate featured a celebratory homecoming of troops who'd been deployed for months, "home in time for the holidays." I've been there, done that too. Achingly I remember counting hours, then minutes, for a plane to land, a car to pull up. Sometimes I was in the car or plane; other times I awaited a "loved one." I remember the excitement of getting tickets (yes, you needed tickets) for Lessons & Carols at Mem Church—first when I was a music major undergrad at huge university across the river, then later on as a seminarian on the other side of the river. Music and mood of the seasonal worship(?) concert(?) event both were immense draws, but so was connecting and reconnecting with people, maybe getting a snack or meal or libation afterwards, maybe promising to do so first thing next year.
The annual commercials blitz featuring snowy scenes, families, gifts, and dreams is on again. I try to remember and re-gather enjoying activities with family and friends. Parties, phone calls, invitations, overtures, givens and gifts, assumptions, expectations. I've cited Cornel West's "dangling people" terminology for individuals with no organic connection to community or to other's lives. Despite this being southern Californian 21st century, I constantly observe people on the street, online, on TV, enjoying activities with other people.
If you need to re-member, to re-collect, to re-call, re-invoke past events, they must have become dis-membered, scattered, ignored. God constantly charged the people to remember, remember, remember. My covenant with Abraham. I brought you through the desert wilderness. Fed you with manna, gave you water from the rock. Jesus commanded, "Do this; remember me." But those rememberings are about mighty acts of divine initiative, presence, and deliverance! My situation must be different? Only a little... as I recall where I've been, with whom I've sojourned, what I've done, how I've contributed, as I dare reclaim my dreams, I gain hope for a future related to that former life, yet a future cast in a different shape, with differing details, in another place. A few years back someone pointed out, "not a single door has been permanently closed," and truly, none have, but the door(s) only can be opened from the other side. Am I trying to live in a long gone past? I've buried 1,000 of those good, horrendous, splendid, and horrific pasts, made at least 1,002 new beginnings.
At about the midpoint of this blog's decade-long internet presence, I wrote some expressive posts about my current situation, though at the same time I was quite opaque, reluctant to reveal many details publicly (I realize there's no need to name actual names). At one point I wrote, "stories starting to be written, then suddenly erased." Some situations are ambiguous; many are not. It's one thing to put the best construction on a situation, esp when it's virtual rather than real; it's another thing to lie about it. I'm twenty years (two decades) post-recall; I've been back in San Diego a dozen years, and no matter how generously I construct everything, my life has not rewoven.
Someone I met in summer 2008 during my 1231,20,3998th attempt to connect to people with similar interests, and who's now a Facebook friend, not long ago updated about recently visiting people he worked and worshiped alongside at Church of the Saviour in DC. Rick referred to the "deep history" he shared with them. What about me? I also share "deep history" with some people, none of whom remained in my life. Does re-collecting those memories signal hope for a similar future for me? Maybe with people I've yet to meet?
Break of day truck stop in the Utah winter desert. North Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Shores Drive early Sunday morning. All things about the city intrigue me; seems as if those of us who live, work, study or re-create in the cities need a specific kind of stuff to keep them fed, productive and complete. I'm still an artist and a dreamer, but time's been lost, time's still slipping away. Will I find a road that leads me home? Will that road find me?
"Where does my deep gladness meet the world’s great hungers?" Death take many forms, and sometimes wields surprising powers. Via Ezekiel [37:12], God promises, "I will open your graves!" We're more than halfway through this Advent season, so "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" "What do you call soon?" "I call all times soon," said Aslan.