It’s What We Do

This past weekend, I set my alarm for Too Early on A Saturday O’clock, showered, dressed up and then grumpily drove for two hours into the heart of Minnesota farm land. I had a funeral to attend. The father of a friend of mine had passed peacefully at 92 years old and, well, I guess we needed to bear witness. It was not my first choice of weekend activities, to be honest. But it need to be done.

So we gathered in the church, heard and said all the right things. Then we ate the ritual ham sandwiches on white buns and drank the instant lemonade. We made the required small talk. We toasted Leonard’s memory with the traditional weak, lukewarm coffee. Such are the Middle American Christian funeral rites. Continue reading

Portrait of a Young Six

One of the first questions we were asked in our enneagram training last fall was some version of “What’s your first memory of being your type?” I found it an interesting way to see how the different types reacted, often at a very young age, to similar early experiences. It also helped me get – deep down – how my type has been influencing how I move through the world for a long, long time. I found the simple answer to that simple question very enlightening, and from their reactions, I think my fellow trainees did too.

I first answered that question over six months ago, but just recently I started thinking about my answer again. Right now, to be honest, I can’t remember what got me thinking about it, or what my sudden insight was. I remember the flash that came with the insight – it truly was like a cartoon light bulb over my head – but no details. I have thought and remembered and pondered and rolled those things around in my head too much the past couple of weeks for me to remember what’s the original thought and what I have added on sense then.

But let me start with the story I shared in answer to that question. Compared to some early childhood stories, it’s pretty mild. Continue reading

Do You Have Family in the Area?

That’s what the lead pastor at my new job asked me at the staff pot luck. I was hired while he was on sabbatical, and now he was back and reconnecting – and in my case connecting – with the staff.

Do you have any family in the area?

It’s a simple question. Standard getting to know you stuff. But for me it touches on the death of my parents, the geographic distance between my daughter and me, the miles between my boyfriend and me. The painful and glorious journey from overburdened caretaker to free and easy single woman to learning at 50 how to be in an adult romantic relationship.

All those feelings – the losses, the gains, the hurt, the joy – well up in me when I am asked a question like that. To manage the seemingly unmanageable mess of emotions I am tempted to swing into sheer intellectual exercise. It depends. What do you mean by “family?” How do you define “the area?” Continue reading