Saturday, November 1, 2014

Go Gently...

First day in our new home city...

Hello my fellow Pilgrims,

We have safely landed in Southern California; we are freeloading off Jeffrey's beautiful sister Susan and her equally loving husband Greg. They have two grown sons, couple of empty bedrooms, and were kind enough to allow us to stay with them while we get organized. We will be homeless until the 15th and then we will be officially settled in our rental home in Santa Barbara. For the next two weeks we will float between two cities as we get the kids registered for school, Jeff settled at his new job, and wait for the contents of our home to arrive.

My thoughts are a bit scattered. While I try and sort through them, I have a little nugget to share with you first. As everyone can imagine the goodbyes were bitter sweet, filled with love and gratitude. I need some time to reflect and offer a clear understanding of where we are and where I have been on this part of the journey. For now take this little post as a teaser of what's to come.
xo, Kathryn

I have had so many good-byes in the last few weeks filled with every single emotion. Each and every hug has been a gift. Have you ever noticed that so many neglect to say how they feel until it's often too late?

My stunningly beautiful Wisdom Figure has told me, "You Kathryn, love outside of the box."

Which may be the greatest compliment I have ever received. I do love outside of the box. I LOVE, which is my greatest strength, but also my Achilles heel.  LOVE is my superpower and it has taken me some time to learn how to love completely and not let it destroy me. I have teetered, and faltered in my humaneness, but just as we watched our little ones learning to walk; I get up and keep on keeping on.  I like to say that I love best in the messy; maybe that is why this move has been both easier and harder than expected.

The move is easier, in that I can effortlessly tell people how I feel; where I struggle, is understanding the depths to which I'm loved. That love is humbling, powerful, and deep. When we share our love, we share an honest part of ourselves, our underbelly so to speak. This part of us, is our most fragile, our most vulnerable. Our truth becomes part primal and intensely personal, and what's more, it is a soul-connecting sharing with each other. I believe that through these connections we meet the Divine. That Divinity for me is God at work. Foolishly, I wasn't prepared for the intensity of that LOVE. I have felt the depth of this love many times, but this was different. What made it different was that I felt it constantly, it was unceasing.  Everyone I touched shared the depth of their love for me and my family. The intensity of that kind of love is remarkable and not something we often share in our daily journey.

So to feel that constant amount of love is overwhelming, because we don't have the skills to process the intensity on a daily basis. I'm not really sure why, maybe it's because we are out of practice, we don't see that type of love enough? It is something with which I need to wrestle.

I tell people all the time that I love them; but to hear them return that love was unsettling. The ability to open yourself and feel that kind love offered so freely is well... astounding.  Welcoming that type of love; being open to and accepting that love can be messy.  I admit, at times in the last month, I have gotten into my car and had the ugly, snotty cry, that hyper-ventilating, shit I'm scaring myself cry. I kept asking myself, "where is this coming from?" I just didn't see it coming-and that was the problem. I love so easily; but to see its reflection, to feel that warmth, to be vulnerable, to receive and be open to the Divinity of another, to welcome another's sunshine on my own face was profound. Life giving. Giving oneself permission to be loved is not easy... It can be uncomfortable and humbling. I didn't see, and perhaps wasn't open to welcoming God's grace in this way.

Life lessons are always BIG, just when you think you have it all figured out; you learn anew and aren't they the best lessons?  God humbles me often and it's in these moments that I learn the most.

Have you ever gone to a funeral and were shocked by the stories and the outpouring of love exhibited by those who attend? Often we hear folks say, "I never really was able to tell this person how important they are in my life." Listen I have no plans to die anytime soon; but that is what the goodbyes have been for me, the chance to get a glimpse of what I mean to others. I thought the lesson was how I was going to love everyone, explain the space I was creating that no distance could ever keep me apart from them. But the true lesson, that many shared was the thought, "I just never thought you would move away from here... I just thought we would have more time."  And my answer was the same, "So did I."

I never really believed that I would move from the East Coast. I love being an East Coaster! I love the seasons and everything about living in the DC area. We were close to our dear friends and family alike. We have the best community, support network and love anyone could ask for...

Which is why this move has been so painfully difficult; I never saw it coming.

So maybe that has been the other lesson; don't wait to make that lunch date, or movie night or to go visit some place or person that is close to you. Because we never really know what is around the bend. We think we do... but we really don't have a clue.

So as I begin the new work of creating my place in the Cali world, I'm reminded that the Divine, works so beautifully where we need it most, where we miss the sunlight. So I will keep my head-up and do the work here that is required.

This move has allowed me to understand, that I'm loved so beautifully, so completely, that I need to drink it in a little bit more, accept it and own that love, too! I was able to understand what I offered to another person, how the little things I do makes a difference in someone else's day. I admit it surprised me; I'm not doing anything special, truly. I'm just trying to navigate this world just like you. So being present, listening, crying, sharing that you matter to someone in a very meaningful way... that is a gift. A gift to both the giver and receiver. And it's that love that surrounds me that will keep me grounded as I navigate this new West Coast world.

When I leave my Wisdom Figure's home she says the same thing... As I skip down her steps fumbling for me keys, I always hear her voice call after me... "Go gently, Kathryn..."  I wait for it, smile and know that I'm loved and protected out in this big world.

I always know that I'm carrying her wisdom and the wisdom of the ages with me, out on my new adventures.

It is with this knowledge that I walk with more love than can be imagined... I hope that you do too.

Go gently, Pilgrims.  Go gently...

Namaste, until we meet again on the West Coast...


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Go West...

This post was written a week ago. Since it was drafted, we accepted an offer on our house. We will move in October, just shy of 12 weeks since Jeffrey came home with the news. xo K

As people of faith we spend our life saying that we believe, that we trust, that we understand that we put all our eggs in the God basket. But do we really?  Oftentimes in moments of crisis we do it flawlessly, we BELIEVE. But when life is going as planned, and life is going really well, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road...

Do we trust, in a plan that is not ours?

Well that is where I'm meeting God on the Pilgrimage. To be honest, it is why I haven't published in a month. For one, I have been so busy that my writing isn't even on my radar, and for me that is a significant problem. You see writing, I have learned, is one of my forms of prayer. The ideas, feelings and thoughts are the very nuggets that I struggle with in my daily prayer life. This is a place where I meet God.

Jeffrey and I made the decision a few weeks ago to move to Santa Barbara, California. As with all good marriages, I was folding towels in the bedroom, Jeffrey breezed-in and from the top of the stairs, (he didn't even come into the bedroom, he remained in the hall!) says, "So listen, there is a NOAA job in California that will be open in the next month, I'm going to go for it unless you say, NO.  I love you, gotta run, "IAAAAAAAN  we are going to be late for tae-kwon-do.  Will talk later."

And he gave me that sheepish, sweet-as-pie grin that I fell madly in love with.... And that was it. He rolled out for tae-kwon-do. I sat on the edge of my bed and said...O' MY! Immediately followed by, "my secret word". Guess we're moving to California!

Now to be honest, this California job had been bandied about before, we had discussed that if it ever came up, Jeff would go for it. He has wanted it for years.  And only when I'm being honest, will I share, that my major prayer focus from the winter was, "Please Lord either let me go into remission or find another way for us to live."  Some would argue that the planets aligned; I don't agree.  It was simply God's hand helping us find a new road on this journey. He has steered us in a new direction.

So honestly, the only logical answer was, yes. DC winters are brutal and while my health has improved every month for the last year, it can't survive winters. Not to mention the steaming summers of high heat and humidity that are just as hard on my body. It was a fait accompli. For the record, it is the job my beloved wants to do... He is thrilled, excited and he deserves this job and that is why I'm so peaceful. This little family of four will blossom in California. In a year, I will look back on this very post and have great insight into this year.

But my heart is more than a little broken... There lies my struggle.

So here is what I can say... I'm peaceful about the move, but not entirely happy. Will I feel better? Absolutely!  Will the year round 70 degrees mean that in January I can walk my children to school? Will I not need to hide under blankets away from doors? YES and YES!   Will I finally get to be a wife and mother year around. YES! Will the weather change my life in ways I can't comprehend? Yep. Is Pilgrimage Gal destined for West Coast greatness? Of course. Because at my core, God is carrying all four of us.  I'm far from alone and that is where the peacefulness resides.

I have to be honest, as I write this I'm in a place of grief, tears start to roll down my face. Oftentimes, I don't even realize that my eyes are leaking. Last night while I flipped and flopped like a beached fish; suddenly my face got scary cold, and it was only then that I realized while sweet Jeffrey purred sleeping, that my face was hiving from my own cold tears.

How utterly ridiculous, but the truth.

Because If I were well, we may not have made this move.

So this very moment is why I have to put my money where my mouth is.  Moving has happened so quickly, so effortlessly, like it's just supposed to be.  It is not our will, it is the will of the Holy Spirit, plain and simple. So while friends and family alike try to offer encouraging words... UGH, it just stinks. I will miss so much and so many. Bonds with friends and family that will be broken.

But, in my heart this move is not mine, it is God's. And as a Pilgrims of Faith, I must be obedient. A hard place to find yourself.

Yesterday at Mass the visiting priest was talking about obedience. He explained that Jesus has even asked for intervention. Even Jesus was looking for the "Plan B" in the garden, but even Jesus was obedient, finally saying, "Thy will be done."

So I'm in good company, every so often it's nice to say, well Jesus rocked that.  We don't like suffering, Americans stink at grief and we certainly don't like to be obedient. We want control. So few of us are obedient, who really wants to  listen with an open heart, to be willing to accept what we don't want to hear; to find the grace in the struggle...


I hear crickets!

And once again for the billionth time, God has met me on this road, dusted me off and reminded me... "Sweet one you are mine, you are my child, but I have big plans for you... trust me."

And AGAIN,  I have to once again swallow hard and realize that this isn't my rodeo, I am following a road that I never wanted, to be that girl with the chronic disease that makes lemonade daily. That I will leave my sweet girls in my "hood", the girls who are the key to my wellness, and begin again.

Because I'm obedient, to living this life as a woman of faith.

I want to be clear, when I speak of obedience, I don't mean submissive, or obedient to Jeffrey. No. We are partners in every sense. I mean obedient to doing for my family and not for myself. Choosing what WE need over what I want. I want to be healthy, live and die in the house that I helped design, that every detail was a decision. That my neighbors are the family we created, and have cared for us in ways that are impossible to imagine. I want to stay with my Harvard, who has been with me on the darkest days and now has to watch me leave... to a new local California medical team that will never ever comprehend where "WE" have been together! (Don't worry I will fly back twice a year to check in with NIH who will continue to manage my long-term health needs)

I don't want to have to work to establish new friends, new church, new doctors, new schools, new therapists. I want to sit back and bask in the sunshine of feeling well. While, getting to enjoy that with my core friends and family.

But, that is not what this life is. I have said it so many times. Life is hard, full of choices we don't want to face. That we aren't living the script we wrote, we are living a very different one! We learn who we are in the struggle, you watch your marriage blossom, you see your children become more confident, you see what you are made of. And that is peaceful, that is the reason I have a smile on my face.

I'm really excited to move, to find what God has planned, what work HE has for me to do in California, what new adventures HE has planned for all of us. That is why we are smiling and crying; because life is full of the bitter and the sweet. This move is both... and I do know that as I sit in my house with boxes around me, this is the bitter.

The sweet is still to come, and it will be delicious, remarkable and full of promise.

So maybe this is my Good Friday and Holy Saturday. We know the Resurrection is coming, that Easter is breaking through the morning dew and warming us in the warm golden sunshine, the struggle is over... That is where I am. Waiting.

Why you ask, well because... I'm on a Pilgrimage, this is not a coincidence, it has been chosen just for me... and I'm running down the lane toward the beach to find the next mile marker. Easter is almost here for the Fergusons, we are anxious to leave Lent and Holy Week behind.

Thank you as always for walking along with me.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you!

photo credit: Leshaines123 via photopin cc