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Leaving Home and Legacy

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I’ve been thinking a lot about dying lately. Maybe not so much dying as just not being here anymore.

This week I will be signing the papers that will detach me from the house I grew up in, the homey, red brick colonial that my family has owned since 1958. It is more than the end of an era; it is the end of *all* my eras so far. Although I’ve lived in my current home for twenty-seven years — way longer than I lived in my family home — somehow that house has always been “home.” Where’s home now?

Home

Home

At the same time, I am preparing to turn sixty years old in a few short weeks. This preparation mostly entails drinking more than is good for me more often than is good for me (perhaps trying to feel like I’m in my twenties again?) and frequently shaking my head and saying “I can’t believe this,” or “How did this happen?”

I’m crying a lot, missing my brother and my mom and even my father, who died forty years ago this May. It’s letting go of the house that’s stirring up the memories.

At any rate, these happenstances have brought to my attention the likelihood that I will die at some point. I knew this, of course, I think I just know it more now. What will be left when I am no more?

What Lasts?

A few weeks ago, we had a Lenten Quiet Day at my church where we spent time in prayer and reflection and meditation. One of the Hebrew scriptures that we used for meditation was Psalm 139, which reads in part, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

I got to thinking about that word “everlasting.” What is everlasting? For someone like me with no kids, no DNA spread about, what of me is everlasting?

I used to think that my legacy was wrapped up in the National Parks and forests and rivers that I helped protect for posterity when I was Public Lands Director at Sierra Club. But those aren’t everlasting. Even if they survive America’s insatiable need to drill, mine, and chop down every last cotton-pickin’ acre of wildlands, they will still be dust eventually.

So no everlasting legacy there. Nope.

I also used to see a trace of legacy in my role as chair of the pastor search process that released my friend Brian McLaren from pastoring the church he founded, so that he could be a full-time author and international speaker spreading a gospel of love and justice — at least a small flickering candle against the darkness of the judgmental, hate-preaching juggernaut that many people think of as “Christianity” and from which they understandably flee.

But Jesus didn’t come to establish a “religion,” and he doesn’t need Brian McLaren to save him, and Brian didn’t need me to save him either. Ten years has put this in perspective. I’m glad to have helped Brian and our church out, but God is God, and is likely by turns divinely amused and annoyed by the way humans represent Her/Him/Is/I AM.

True Home

So what truly is everlasting? Only love. Only the Spirit of Love that passes from one to another to another for all time and into eternity. And I believe what Jesus’s friend John wrote two thousand years ago: God is love. That’s where “home” is, always was, and always will be.

So let me not waste time, God. Let me not waste time clinging to brick and mortar or searching for meaning or significance in things that don’t last. Let me dwell only on the love in my past, and let me love well in the time I have left. 

Related post: https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/hope-or-hostility-in-a-multi-faith-world/

Birthing a Blog

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Birthdays are a time to reflect and take stock of where we are. For a two-month old, that wouldn’t normally entail much. But after traveling to forty-four different countries and being ogled almost two thousand times, my baby blog is no neophyte.

Hence, a moment of reflection on Writing with Spirit’s two-month birthday.

birthday cake large

First of all, thank you so much for reading, or even just for scanning, or glancing at my photos. Special gratitude to my forty-five “followers” (such an ostentatious phrase). I can’t tell you how much that means to someone who still doesn’t feel comfortable being labeled “a writer.” I’m sure some of you bloggers can relate.

Yesterday, I had a writerly moment. Unusually enough, an actual editor was waiting for one of my essays. I was ransacking my house looking for some lost interview notes I needed to revise the piece, when I remembered that I still had a tape recording of the interview.

Phew!

I unearthed the recorder, pressed play, and … nothing. The whole thing had been erased. This is not supposed to be possible, as in order to erase a file, you must provide two forms of ID, and then press three buttons simultaneously while reciting your social security number backwards in Swahili. Then the little screen says, “Are you sure you want to do this?” You say yes, and it says, “Really?” and you scream YES, DAMN IT, YES, YES, YES!!  So after my technology had betrayed me without so much as a PIN number, I was tossing papers into the air and cursing and even crying a few tears of frustration, when I suddenly stopped and thought –

Wow, I am a writer.

I don’t know why being thoroughly disorganized and panic-stricken matched my image of a writer, but there you have it. To complete the picture, I probably should have knocked back a tumbler of bourbon, neat.

I winged it and got the essay into the magazine editor. Nothing left but to wait for the rejection. (Even at my tender writing age, I’ve learned to be a cynic.)

All this to say that I think I’ve written more regularly in the past two months than I have since I started my writing career at Johns Hopkins University three years ago. A blog is great discipline. There’s accountability, even if it’s mostly in my head.

I’ve learned to observe more and to listen better, and life seems more interesting when I anticipate that I’ll be creating something fun out of it. Colors are more vivid, jokes are funnier, politicians are even more absurd.

The WordPress Photo Challenges were a wonderful surprise. I have thousands of fabulous pictures that I never share with anyone, and I’ve so enjoyed the challenges and the diverse group of people who “like” my photomontages. Even real photographers! I’ve tried mixing a little poetry with the pictures, which is new for me.

Another fun discovery has been all the good writing floating around in the blogosphere. I simply had not surfed around much before I started my blog.Wonderful fiction, poetry, writing advice, and travel adventures! Kudos, bloggers!

I am a Cat Person

I have, until now, resisted putting in a picture of my cat. But now that we’ve known each other for two months, it’s time. Isn’t she just the cutest?

Eliza Bean

Sorry.

On a more serious note, authenticity being good for the soul, I have shared some traumatic truths about sexual harassment and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/rubber-ducky-exposes-cia-sexual-harassment/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/hey-girl-youre-bald/

I’ve talked about life and death and politics and a way more eclectic collection of topics than I had planned on, from God to climate change to Henry James.

As I dimly recall, this blog was supposed to be primarily about spiritual and emotional de-cluttering. https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/emotional-house-cleaning/

Who knew how many synapses and leaps across random neural pathways that would involve?

Thanks for being along on the journey. And thanks for coming to the birthday party.

Tell me, WordPress compatriots: what have you learned since your blog was birthed??

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