Back to being in my cups after a time of abstinence…
After a few weeks away, I’m joining the staff blogging on Mondays, although I’ve been enjoying regular connections with many of the St. Alban’s family from my suburban residence ‘across the river in Virginia.
My earlier communications on ‘the cup’ shared my reflections on the process of moving. An experience that was brand new to me, since we’d lived a few blocks from St. Alban’s for nearly 40 years. Living there gave me a sense of the geographic community of the ‘village in the city’ that we’ve talked about as a sort of ‘identity statement’ of what that St. Alban’s family really is.
It’s ‘felt’ like a village, to me. A strange thing in the sort of urban, traffic-jammed place the northwest Washington has become. It was a place you walked around — for Polly and me. Some of our most fun times were walking around the warren of alleys around behind the houses in the neighborhood. You get to know when something big is happening to people when you walk the alleys — extra big piles of trash when they’re getting ready for vacation. Worn-out tricycles as the children grow up. Wierd stuff in the alley when the children go off to college. But you also see the WONDERFUL evidence that a neighbor has bought a new snow-blower, or a hand ‘plow’ when tomato planting time rolls around.
That sort of life is what I’ve always known — in South Carolina as a child and youth, in Chapel Hill as young married folk — so my brain is sensitized to living next door to others, to seeing children grow up and go off, to knowing people at the grocery store, and even having people wash your car window at the gas station.
Weeks ago I chronicled my efforts to adjust to living in an apartment 14 floors up. And not having dirt to shovel and things like that.
There’s a real sense of disconnect that you have to work at getting over. I can’t tell you how much it means to re-connect each Tuesday morning to the corporal’s guard that gathers for the 7:30 eucharist, and again when I can make it to the Sunday morning big-time gatherings. And WHAT a celebrative Gala we had this year. Spoiled only because Polly couldn’t make it this year.
What have I learned? Some new friends. Beginning to face into my reluctance to change — realizing the problem is not in ‘moving.’ It’s a problem in ME — holding back from changing. Sort of afraid of trying new stuff. But I’ve learned that I CAN change. I haven’t learned to LIKE changing, though, and I hope I’ll learn that soon. Meanwhile, I bought an I-Pad and have begun learning that technology. Wednesday of this week, I try my first triathlon (a more modest, ‘senior-type’ marathon, never-the-less). So, I’m trying, I’m trying. (Remember Jack Benny’s great line when a robber approached him with a gun and said: “Your money or your life!” And Benny said, in his characteristic tight-wad way, “I’m thinking! I’m thinking!”). If you really LIKE nostalgia, here’s one for you — We’re doing the triathlon in teams. I’m the swimmer on our team, and Sarah Eastman (wife of our ex-rector from a few years back) is the cyclist on the same team! “Go, Alban Team!”
Meanwhile ALSO — Polly and I have planted a tree on our 14th floor balcony, and I’ve got three tomato plants still surviving. And maybe most hopefully, some birds have found their way up here. I’ve learned that even nostalgia isn’t the whole truth about birds. They spit out the seeds shells all over the balcony for me to clean up. And when they sit on the balcony railing they do disgraceful things to the railing itself.
Won’t be long before I’m fully at home here. Like I got fully at home in South Carolina back then, and later Chapel Hill got under my skin as a new home. Maybe that’s today’s lesson. Wherever I am, I’m living as a sojourner. Thank Heaven — literally — that my people, the people who go back to Abraham and the apostles, the people of whom the St. Alban’s family is one small unit — those are MY people, and we’ve learned over the centuries that our God has a special thing for our sojourning life. That God is with us wherever we go. There’s no place where I have to be a stranger, because everywhere I go, God is already there to welcome me. For now, that means even across the Potomac.
And in the future, there will be other rivers to cross.
Beautifully written, Loren.