For the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

“Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara (מרה), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” Ruth 1:20

I find fleeting moments of happiness as I walk in this desert. A remembered song, a laugh, a scripture I understand far too well. “For if she but touched the hem of his clothes she would be healed.” I sit, and think, and cling to memories of laughter around a large communion table. On a porch in the mountains with rocking chairs and beers. At a mellow mushroom trivia table. Along a bike path. In a car too small for five people with one bag of starbursts and a long wait in a line to cross the border.

And I long for community. Communal living, gathering at a table daily, feeling whole.

There are moments where I find myself in tears for the hole in my heart that I cannot fill on my own because this piece of me is just as empty as it can be, next to other empty pieces that have stayed empty for years, voids that will never be filled because that person has been gone, will be gone, until I meet them again. I push forward, knowing, praying hoping. But sometimes the tears come, like they did at that empty communion table in past months. But at least in that station of trains in and out often not stopping at the same time, we occasionally made connections at the same time.

As silly as it seems to quote from a book that was so over quoted at the time, “and in that moment we were infinite.” Because I felt we were. Because together, when we were willing to let go, to let ourselves be open to community we were more than ourselves, we were truly Church. Not church. And really, it doesn’t have to be the Church of my God even. Something Holy where two or three are gathered, there a spirit of more than we ourselves will be because we can prop each other up through the best of times and the worst of times. Through anything that might come into the path of ourselves and each other.

My heart is heavy with the grief I have for what I miss most of all and that is my little intentional community. I miss sharing meals. I miss not being alone in a physical space. I miss being Church.

Perhaps there is much good, and I see it in many ways. I do not struggle with the good. I rejoice in it. I am thankful for it, because it is sugar to swallow the bitterness I find in many places right now.

Rachel

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