I’m taking a minute (when I’m supposed to be writing a 700 word paper – how ironic that this post will likely be longer than that…) to pause and reflect on just how challenging re-entry can be.
For the last week I felt like “me” in a way that I haven’t in quite some time. I asked questions, I drank tea, I talked about Jesus, I moved slowly, I enjoyed sunshine and humidity, I spent time with people with whom I don’t need to have pretenses.
And then I came home.
It hit me first driving home from the airport sometime after midnight last night. Dad wanted to know how my trip was, and what I’d done. I sort of babbled an answer. Because what do you say to your evangelical pastor father when you’d really rather he not know that you flew across the continent to explore catholicism and dialogue about that exploration with dear friends.
I felt it again this morning as I talked with mom before she headed off to church. It was the same problem – how do you describe a trip whose major purpose needs to remain hidden for the time being?
I felt it as I stood at the kitchen sink and chatted with my baby brother (there was a meeting at mom and dad’s house after church, and I stayed to have lunch with them before heading off to get groceries while the meeting went on). I felt it as he described an odd incident in his search for a spiritual director – an email from a potential director that suggested that Tim would perhaps be more comfortable with someone else due to this director vaguely saying that he is “more liberal” than Tim is. The potential spiritual director referred Tim on to someone else, a Catholic priest, leaving my brother feeling baffled by the vagueness of it all, and leading him to comment to me on how he imagined that differences between a vaguely described “liberal” and himself couldn’t be any more different than the theological differences between what he holds as true and what the Catholic priest he was referred to holds as true.
I felt the ache of it as I wandered the aisles at Costco and Superstore, picking up supplies to begin again to manage my diet in a more proactive way. The ache of feeling far from a place where I felt safe to simply be.
And I felt it as my baby brother drove me back to grandma’s and it slipped out before I could stop it. We were talking about a someday wedding for me, and I mentioned that the two friends I’m closest to, who I would want to stand up for me live far away, and that I’d have to pick someone in Calgary so that I could at least have a bridal shower. He volunteered himself, this six foot baby brother of mine, and I smiled as I pictured him standing next to my two dear friends, smiling at me as I enter a church. And it slipped out, “Who knows, by then I might be Catholic”. We were sitting at a stop light and it escaped my lips, followed quickly by a plea that he not share that particular piece of information with our parents. And followed then by tears as I explained just a tiny little bit how I was feeling so compelled, how I’d travelled to talk about that compulsion, and how overwhelming the fear of moving forward is. I cry even as I write that out. And my sweet little brother listened to me as he drove and parked and helped carry my wine and chocolate filled suitcase to the front door. And he told me that he cares more about me following my own compulsions from God, my own convictions, and that he doesn’t believe it’s his place to tell me what to think and do. And I breathed just a little, even as he added that I need to be able to defend those convictions (and I thought about the long conversation the other night with Kirsten and James about the fallacy of sola scriptura, because when my evangelical family says I need to defend convictions, they mean with scripture).
I feel pierced to the depths of my being as I re-enter my life here in Calgary.
I have moved from the place I called home.
And I don’t yet have a destination in sight.
I’ve re-entered the same life I left a week ago, but I’ve re-entered with the awareness that I am living in a sort of no-mans-land. A place in between. A dry and weary and painful place.
I need another week of vacation to sit and process my vacation from a place of stillness while engaged in my day to day life. Instead, I came home and plunged in – there is that paper to write, and online medication administration modules to complete for the test that happens tomorrow. There were groceries to buy and unpacking to do. There’s a work shift tomorrow night after a very long and full day at school. There are friends to see and laundry to wash and hang. There is cooking to do, and scheduling and working to create a balance that lets me pursue healthier living.
Re-entry feels harsh just now, and I wish I could avoid it.