I was having a moment a few days ago- I felt overburdened and I wasn’t coping well. Lindsay suggested we take a drive to a nearby mountain town to escape the pollution and visit their excellent library. I grumbled and picked fights. I felt cagey, and didn’t want to go.
We stopped at a great local coffee shop. The staff was bubbly, and listening to the Ghostface Killah remix of Amy Winehouse’s “I’m no good.” This, and a perfect vanilla latte were obviously conspiring to make me get over myself and cheer the hell up.
As we drove into the mountains, the air cleared, and so did my stormy head. It was a sunny day after all, and the kids fell asleep in the car. I asked to stop at a Trappist monastery to visit their bookstore; it keeps odd hours, and each time we’d previously visited, the store was closed. We’d gone before to take photos of the sheep grazing on the mountainside, the grumpy old sheepdog tolerating our presence, but eager to assert his dominance.
Inside, I met an old monk at the register in the otherwise empty bookstore. We talked a little, he said hey used to have a larger, proper bookstore, but they had to close it a year or so ago, because there was “too much work and not enough monks.” I’d not heard that phrase before and he tossed it off like a common cliche. He was reading Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. I asked if it was Latin or English, and he said it was Italian. I told him I could read Vulgar Italian, but had trouble reading Aquinas even in English. I selected a rosary to buy-I decided I was going to start praying the rosary for lent-then discovered he shoppe was cash only, which I did not have. He wrote his address on a slip of paper and said “You send me the money when you have the time.” I was scared and anxious at this. I said “really, it’s no trouble, I can come back next week.” He said “I didn’t come to the mountain to make money, I came to find God.” I said “I can’t argue with that.” He blessed the rosary for me and we went on our way.
I daydreamed the monk and I became penpals, with me asking questions about being a spiritual person in a violent, materialistic world, and he encouraging me with simple words I already knew, but needed to hear from someone else, or taking me to task and telling me to get over myself and shut up. I’d take both.
I am at a crossroads. We are permanently faced with decisions which can impact ourselves and our communities, but at the moment, in the parlance of the younger end of the Millenial spectrum, I am “woke AF.”
I went to a poetry reading last week, and read for the first time in 8 years. I had great conversations with cool people, who I kept interrupting because I have gone feral, and don’t regularly talk to people who are not my family members, barristas, or EMTs.It was good energy, and I hope to go at least once a month.
I was elected and ordained as a Ruling Elder at church. Part of my responsibilities are finding and organizing opportunities to impact the community. I’d had an idea, partially inspired by the Saturday Night Live writer’s practices, to organize a monthly event where people gather some evening, are given a story topic, and everyone writes together and presents what they have at the end. My hopes are the table readings during editing/revision organically influence and improve the stories, and art is created as a collective effort. It wouldn’t be a religious event, just “Hey, we love you, come hang out with us, we have snacks and coffee.” I told this to a table of people at the poetry reading. One guy said it sounded neat, and he was definitely interested. One lady shared she was LDS until about 2 years prior, when she was hurt and shamed by the church. As of late, he has been seeking spiritual something, and the thought of coffee at church made her tear up. She smiled and slowly said “that sounds AWESOME.”
I’m at a place where I need stability, community. I mean, I always am, but especially now. I have some life changes zooming toward me, and I need a thread of continuity, of apostolic succession, of coffee. I’ve put together an advisory board to help me navigate this murky passage; and if I’ve been emailing you questions about your career and life experiences, surprise, you’re on it and I consider you wise enough to be a mentor. Some of you are younger than me. If I haven’t questionbombed you, I probably haven’t gotten to you yet.
So, here goes- I already told my boss. I am planning on leaving the Air Force after nearly 15 years of service. I tried this in 2014, when they were giving out sweet cash bonuses, but now it’s just leaving. My last day will be the 1st of July. The plan is to stay in Ogden and work in private industry. We may move after a few years, we may not. I don’t know. I do know, however, I AM DEATHLY AFRAID OF MESSING THIS UP. I know a lot of people will think me foolish, but this is a family decision, and not made on a whim or from an emotional place. This is also too large in scope to delve into now, and will need a few posts of its own.
So that’s it. We’re staying. We’re going to get to really know people, have them over for dinner, throw parties, do stuff, build a swingset. I’m excited, and my head feels like a hive of bees. Oh yeah, we’re getting bees.
I need your advice, your encouragement, your emails and fb messages and Linkedin endorsements and texts, your prayers, your quietly sitting next to me. But I’m doing this, and fiercely.