a taste of community

Yesterday was a rather grand day for me. It was our California reception, the wedding reception we planned last Fall to have so that those who were SoCal based wouldn’t feel pressure to get up to Oregon, and we would feel happy about including them in our celebration.

We had the day at Waters, in Irvine. Worlds came together, and if they mostly circled around each other without colliding it was still a fine day of feasting, chatting, celebrating, and re-connecting. Both Amy and I had family there. Amy’s uncles and their families, my mom’s parents, brother and his wife, and my dad’s cousins and aunts. Amy has been close to her family for her whole life. My extending family relationships somehow have not been as steady, especially on my dad’s side. So it was particularly nice to see this wedding as a coming together.

A blessing and a message was given by Larry Feldman of Shuvah Yisrael, where my parents attend. And a good many of the people who came were from there as well, many of whom had never or only briefly met me before. They celebrated because my parents celebrated. My friends from present and past were there as well.

It was a fine day all around. And with that, the wedding season ends. Newleyweddedness continues.

Five years ago and a day, I had gone to an Irish festival, leaving my temporary isolation to join in with some Celtic fun with my brother and my dad, leaving the journaling of that day more particular. Here’s what I wrote exactly five years ago:

Morning — A jay screeched loud on my balcony early this morning, waking me up, though not making me alert. A cool breeze rustles the branches, I can’t see very well. Outdated glasses give rest to my eyes, but don’t really help me see. Oh well, I guess I’ll read throughout the day.

My headache lingers, becoming worse through the night, to the point where I thought if it did not ease I would have to go to the doctor. Thoughts of brain tumors and the like came to mind, the piercing, biting of every movement keeping me from moving. I drank water, seeing if I was dehydrated. I took more excedrin, popping four at 2 AM, and used some nasal spray, for my sinuses felt like the problem. Something worked, and I feel, if not great, then at least better. The greats said that illness was its own discipline, that those afflicted with bodily problems weren’t as needing the rest of the disciplines, for spirituality with illness is a great battle of itself. One day of a headache is not really enough for me to claim this path, though it does bring it to mind. Because we are sick is not an excuse to forgo our spiritual lives, though it does alter them in ways which too often people do not accept.

My reflections on yesterday continue, having been lost through an early bedtime last night. I had a very enjoyable day, full of good fun and community (as Christian lingo might say). There is a sense in the Church, or at least among many I know, to deprecate aspects of community. Family is this aspect. I have known many fine people in my life, greats of the faith, and I happen to be the son of two people I respect extremely highly. Their faith and wisdom in spiritual matters is always instructive. And yet, I have to defend myself at times when I say that they form a vital part of my spiritual community. I honestly don’t get it. I trust and respect their education and insight more than most full time pastors I have ever known, so going to them for prayer or wisdom is perfect sense. There is no benefit to interacting with those whose lives speak less only because they are of an acceptable status.

The Christian life is not a game to be played. It is serious, life and death. And because of this, community must be found where there are those who best help to spur one onwards. There is, I guess, a benefit to going down with the ship together, but not one I wish to pursue. I want to win this fight, not give it the ol’ college try and console companions how it’s too hard a journey, but at least we have each other. Casting off anything that binds, I take hold of those things which give a boost, which provide answers, wherever they may be found.

That all being said, the long drive with my pop was very encouraging and needed. The day with he and my brother was fun and valued. I thank God for my family and for the wisdom which is in those with whom I share my name.

Now, if I could just get rid of this headache once and for all, I’d be a happy boy.

Evening — There are days which are simply dull. Not bad. Just existing, and they can even be good. It was a beautiful day today, the weather warm with a cool breeze. Now dark and still. There is an animal outside, making a squeaking kind of sound, disturbed by my presence, chattering when I lean over the rail. I haven’t a clue what it is, though assuming it’s neither bear or coyote. My glasses are still on rather than my contacts, so I can’t exactly see. I’m intrigued. Nervous, though, with my precarious sight. Maybe it is a squirrel whose nap I interrupted by turning on the light. Now a white thing floats across from tree to tree, illuminated bright by my light. Flying squirrel? I don’t think we have those. Tomorrow, I’m going to check the right books. A few weeks ago, I saw two of these flying in about the same place. curious.

As for my day it wasn’t so much. My headache was better, though lingered throughout. I was happy and content to catch up on less than exciting tasks. Back at this site, catching up from lost keyboard days, adding and honing, learning. The sun was bright on my sore eyes so I did not go outside for very long, and one of the few times this is true I am fine with the fact.

It was one of those days where I have no idea how it was spent. I feel a yearning to move forward, and got to the tasks I felt were right for the day. Why? I don’t know, they just were on my mind, and today I got to them, only knowingly helpful in honing my attention to the breezes of the Spirit, trying to be reactive to the smallest of leads.

I end the day feeling fine, if not grand, and pray that God will continue to lead. We do not always know when we do something important, and maybe I in fact did so today. It was my part, and I feel fine with the fact.

But, I do think I’ll go after a wee bit more adventure tomorrow. Should be another beautiful day.

What is so interesting to me now is looking back at this seeing where it went. I know the end of the story, or at least the end of that chapter, and that makes faith so much more easy to assume. But when these words were written I had given up everything, had really no prospects, and was sitting in a forested well, trying to hold on to a faith without any indication of an end. Now, five years later, I sit to begin writing this week a new paper on liberation theology and emerging church for my PhD program. I woke up next to Amy, my wife!, and spent the whole day yesterday in communion with others and truly also with God.

Funny thing, this life.

Oh, and it turns out it was a flying squirrel. Got a picture of it a while later.

Flying Squirrel
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