When I asked my sweet man how long we have been together now, I was shocked when he replied nearly four years. Four years? Really? I guess I have been living life so hard that the time has flown by. It feels just like yesterday when I made the move that changed everything for everyone who was close to me. Sometimes change is so hard, but so necessary.
In retrospect, the words at the right sum up things quite nicely. Every year that passes results in me knowing and understanding myself more. My journey of study has brought about changes of thought that I could have never foreseen. Jimmy Carter isn't the only one 'losing his religion' - with each passing term, I move farther and farther away from the devout and faithful person I was when I resigned my formal religious obligation back in 2010. For myself, once I 'see' something, it is impossible to 'unsee.' This is definitely a truism for me, and have I seen some things. Once confronted with knowledge, we all have to decide what to do with it. My choice was to question everything I had ever been told. I just could not live any longer without finding the answers to questions I had been asking all along - those ignored but pesky inappropriate questions.
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What do people gain from all the toil
at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south,
and goes around to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they continue to flow.
All things are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
by those who come after them.
Everyone suffers, regardless of faith in...whatever you want to have faith in. That sounds so bleak, but yet, it is not. It is freeing; knowing that no one has it all right, and that everyone carries a human burden, fosters compassion and love for all. We are all in this together, and no one is getting out unscathed. That realization alone kills self-righteousness.
Now, dear reader, if you are still with me, I would like to say that at the start of this new year I am full of hope. Not hope in that which is not seen and all that, but hope that there is so much potential that I have not even begun to imagine. I believe we limit ourselves and our choices with restrictions, laws, and expectations. And for what? With so many possibilities that lie before us, before me, freedom to think outside the perceived box of accepted norms gives me hope. I am now living my dream - a dream that seemed so much out of my reach before. I was encouraged to stay in that toxic place, in that toxic relationship, that place in which I was dying because to leave would be unrighteous. Well, that advice was so wrong for me. I am now privileged to be in the most loving, respectful, satisfying relationship - it is the stuff of my wildest dreams. I am in my junior year at a university that is amazingly fulfilling and challenging, studying my most obsessive hobby and passion - religion and gender. My beloved children are grown (or mostly) and three of the most personable, interesting, and bright people I know (and for that I take very little credit) - every mother dreams of having their children be healthy and happy as they venture out into their own life. I have the absolute pleasure of living with my most closest and dearest souls in my favorite place on the entire earth - the beach - where I can breathe fresh air, commune with the wildlife, and feel the pulse of the very earth in and around me. Now, this is living.
One week at a time. One day at a time. One moment at a time.
It is only in the moment where we truly live. No where else.
Nothing is permanent.
Change is a constant.
Compassion is everything.
The letter-writer Paul says that "if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."
I have everything.