Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Pope & Letting Go

I didn't want Pope Francis to go home. The feeling reminds me of the times my grandparents would come to visit me when I lived in Columbus, and I would be so sad when they left. Once my husband found me sitting on the couch crying, and I realized then how very much I missed them. There was an elderly couple living around the block from my house, and they were so kind to me and Beezy, always inviting us to sit on the porch or come in for ice cream. It made me wish it was that easy to spend time with my own grandma and grandpa. So I moved. I did what some people thought was a crazy thing, to leave the culture of the big city for my humble hometown.

We had to let go of many things. For example, virtually nothing is open here on Sundays. That is as it should be. But in the beginning it was hard to fathom not being able to go to a coffee shop, book store, the mall, or the movies. In fact, you have to look harder for any sort of entertainment or social activity in our area. I'd have to drive an hour one way to even shop at a decent mall. But I am creative. Between thrift stores and Ebay, I manage to clothe myself reasonably well. What I have learned is that when most of the toys are taken away, you find out what you're really made of. Without so many of the distractions, the search for meaning in life becomes crucial.

Some days I am extremely annoyed by what is lacking. I want to shake people until they wake up. This could be a much more vibrant community. It was once a self-sufficient, thriving railroad town, a happening village. Today it's as if the ghost of all those yesteryears moans in the alleyways like an orphan. Yet the characteristic independence of the place stubbornly clings, and so there is hope for revival. And if it comes, it will be something new. My part in that transformation may be small, but there is power in a mustard seed.

I have to let go of how-things-used-to-be, because now is all we have. Pope Francis was here while he was here, and it was glorious like Christmas morning, but he had to go home and prepare for the next thing. Like Jesus' apostles who saw him transfigured in his heavenly glory on the mountain top, we have to descend again and press on with the task at hand. I don't have to go looking for my purpose in life. It is here, all around me. I'm sitting in the middle of it. I have a home and a family to care for, a book and blogs to write, and seeds of contemplation to sew. I am needed in non-earth-shattering ways, but my presence matters nonetheless. I am blessed to have my grandparents to visit, only a few minutes away. There are things unseen that come into sharper focus in the melancholy, fading fall light.

I think the Pope came to America to help us step up where we need to step up, and to let go where we need to let go. The trouble lies in discernment between the two. But I'm a little closer to Wisdom than I was before he came. Thank you, oh Francis, my Francis.