before the phoenix

My hope is placed less on the solid rock than on the phoenix.  It rises from the ashes, and so do we.  A dear friend reminded me of that truth this morning and I see it from my window as the once green leaves lie in a red and yellow pile beneath bare branches.  Seasons come, seasons go, and all will be well again.  (Thank you, Julian of Norwich.)

Most painful this week has been the devastation to the community for which I have given so many years of my life.  For the first time in all of these years, I am not compelled to fix a breach in the fabric of our common life.  I spent every last ounce of reserve energy that I had last spring doing just that, and I am watching the current wave feeling helpless to do anything but offer a silent scream.  I have nothing left to give.

Curiously, and I suspect importantly, the feelings I have are of extreme sadness but today are largely devoid of the guilt and shame that are typically so prominant for me.

At the governing meeting where I shared my retirement annoucement, one supportive leader said, “the most valuable legacy we can give to Katy’s ministry is to be strong going forward.”  (Or something similar.)  In the moment, I felt buoyed by the sentiment and heard truth in the claim.  Today I wonder.

Having seen a different view of the future in the hallway of the memorial service, a damning view of what might remain of our beloved community with the dramafest still offering salvos, I begin to see that moving forward with strength is not only impossible for me, but it will be difficult and not necessarily even possible for the community.  This is a difficult time, and a turn around is not in the near offing.  These are things that I can’t say publicly, truths I would rather not see, and a scenario that I hope will not unfold.

But a whisper of truth came to me midday yesterday.   If all that we had worked to build and share ceased to exist tomorrow, would it change the value that we have experienced?    I can only answer for myself, and the answer is a clear ‘no’.  To be sure, I wish that I could have walked away a moment sooner, but e’en so I can honestly and cheerfully say that it has been good, very.  Although we may not have left lasting monuments, we fostered experiences with the sacred and created heartful memories.  Were it to end tomorrow, I would still be absolutely grateful for this.

So the leaves fall and the decomposition begins.  The season squeezes my heart and holds my hope.  The phoenix will rise from the ashes and the tulip will emerge from the bulb.   My hope is not in the individual bloom but in the power of life to recreate itself from nothingness.  All will be well again… in it’s own way, in it’s own time.  For today, I honor the ashes from whence the phoenix comes.