Comforting Words: The Storm is Over

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Storm is Over

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I was in Walmart recently and as I waited for my prescription to be filled, I moseyed over to the electronic section and browsed the compact discs.

My intention was just to look as I don’t have a stereo system to make the most of the music available. My woman-friend Anni had loaned me an old ‘boom box’ (with not much of a boom) that belonged to her late mother. She brought it over one day in my darkest of despair after I told her that my Spiritual Director had given me some relaxation tapes to listen that she thought would help me to sleep; but I had nothing to play them on.

Further, my music collection is now very limited – having packed up most of what we did have and delivered them to my ex; because they meant more to her than me and two I could not bear listening to any love songs or any song that reminded me of an illusionary past.

My collection is now limited to a few gospel and spiritual compact discs and tapes; and yes, I must admit some tapes of programmes my ex did back in the days when she was a journalist and I was her unofficial producer.

Getting to the point of this story – as I reached the “Christian Music” section of the display in Walmart, I stopped and searched through and lo and behold I came across the last of Kirk Franklin’s cd – “For the Storm – Volume 1.” And it was on sale!

Since purchasing that disc a few weeks ago, I play it over and over again as I drive to work each morning. I bring it in and play it before going off to sleep. There are some songs that I would listen to more than others and then there was one in particular, after listening to it the first time, I never played it again until yesterday (Saturday, February 17) as I returned to Edmonton.

For those of you who are not avid readers of this blog (you don’t know the real life drama that you have been missing!) A few weeks ago, I decided to go on a solitary/silent retreat. The purpose was not very clear to me at the time, except that my spirit needed to get away from this apartment and the memories (although I have tried hard to sterilize the place) of what I now call an illusionary relationship and friendship.

On Thursday, February 15, 2007 – the day I turned 42, after being surprised not only by colleagues at work with the “Happy Birthday” song and gift but by the women I work with (Oh! How I love and adore them!) I set off to the retreat facility not too far outside of Edmonton.

I was the only guest there that first night and so I roamed the halls, sat in the chapels and the meditation rooms for hours, after checking into my “Garden Suite.” The poignancy of them putting me in that particular suite did not escape me – as I did feel like a seed that has been submerged in darkness since my first attempt on my life back in October 2006.

The plan was that I would stay there until Sunday (October 18). I had packed enough fruits and juices to last for the time. Oh, that was another part of the process for me – that was to be my diet for the time in retreat – fruits and juices, as I wanted to purge physically as well as spiritually any and everything that was blocking my forward and upward movement. I guess you could also say downward and outward movement too (ha-ha)!

All went as envisioned Thursday and Friday. My Spiritual Director had given me a package including books and most important – a reflection sheet to work through. I was particularly grateful for the reflection sheet as it guided my thoughts and kept me focus on my raison d’etre for the retreat. On Friday, I worked through most of the sheet but came to a standstill with the last question and exercise.

Basically, what she was asking me to do was to reflect on the places and situation where I find God. I rose at 4:30 on Friday morning and after having a breakfast of fruits only, I got to work. By early afternoon, my retreat journal was filled with responses to the question “Where We Find God in:

  • Ourselves
  • In Other People
  • In Nature
  • Everywhere
  • Scripture
  • Pain, weakness and poverty.

What stumped me was the last one as the reading that went with it included this quote from a book by Jessica Powers, titled “God is a Strange Lover:”

God is the strangest of all lovers; His ways are past explaining.
He sets His heart on a soul; He says to Himself, “Here will I rest my love.”
His jealousy is an infinite thing. He stalks the soul with sorrows;
He robs and breaks and destroys --- there is nothing at the last but her own shame, her own afflictions, and then he comes and there is nothing in the vast world but Him and her love of Him.

I read this over and over and the more I read it the more uneasy I felt yet some part of me – my soul - understood the truth inherent in the quote.

Then the instruction was to reflect on whether I would call this God – the one who “stalks the soul with sorrows” or let the beloved know shame and sorrow – a lover?

My head was screaming no way! And I threw the reflection sheet aside and like a ghost haunted the corridors of the retreat centre, upstairs and down. Finally I came to a window looking over the valley below and to the corner of what in spring should be a glorious garden I saw this message wrought in iron – “You are my beloved child.”

Stunned and in tears, I returned to my room and cried for hours and then the song, the song from the Kirk Franklin cd started to play in my head and I knew it was time to go home. I knew that through the sorrow, the shame, the feelings of rejection and abandonment, the betrayal, the lies - though I walk alone, I am not on my own. With that thought in mind, I went to sleep.

In the suite there were two journals on the writing table. Many guests who stayed in that suite had written about their stay, the gratitude and the peace that filled them, etc. After packing my bags and emptying the garbage at about 5:30 Saturday morning (February 17), I sat at the table and wrote:

“I came here seeking clarity on how to start my life anew after having it abruptly and coldly turned up side down.

I leave here with courage – knowing that it’s time to let my flower bloom.”

There was no need for me to be there another night. The storm was over.

I placed a call at 6:30 a.m. to an ‘estranged’ friend – one who was upset with me for going into seclusion without warning – and invited her to meet me for breakfast at a Denny’s Restaurant downtown.

After breakfast and catching up on what has been going on in her life for the few weeks we have not spoken, I had this urge to check my email and so I did. Among the many messages, there was one that the subject line immediately caught my attention.

Remember my post about being in the closet and my ex refusing to come help me and being ‘rescued’ by this lady? Well the message was that that lady was in the hospital. I immediately called the hospital to confirm she was still there, then my woman-friend and I went and bought flowers (I bought her orchids as I know she absolutely loves them) and went to see her.

When we got there she was sitting in a chair in her room, all dressed and waiting. After hugging and a few tears, I asked why was she dressed and who is she waiting on – she responded, “You.” She was being discharged and needed a ride home and I was it – synchronicity in action.

After taking this dear woman home and seeing her settled, I called my daughter and we went shopping for the rest of the afternoon. I have lost over thirty pounds since October, 2006 and only have one pair of pants that I have had to be literally girding to keep from falling off me. I had had enough of looking like a scarecrow!

Later that evening, “my boys,” a group of gay men who are such an important part of my circle of friends came and got me to go celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve in the northern part of the city. We had a meal of dumplings, fish, rice and muesli – this was the most and the best I have eaten in four months!

The point of all this is to say, as the words of that song from the Kirk Franklin's cd states:

It’s over now, it’s over now
I feel like I can make it
The storm is over now!

I also knew that I could now answer that last question on the reflection sheet – God does not stalk our souls with sorrow – we unconsciously choose sorrow and shame when we walk out of Divine Light.

Where Light does not shine – there is the impression of sorrow and shame. Choose differently and you experience differently. That is what free will is all about. You and I make choices everyday – consciously and unconsciously – and those choices will determine what we experience. Gary Zukaz says it best:

“In order to make a responsible [conscious] choice you must ask yourself, “What will this produce? Do I really want to create that? Am I ready to accept all the consequences of this choice?”

Yes, there are still many rivers to cross. Yes, there are still outstanding financial and even legal matters to deal with. I am still diagnosed and being treated for clinical depression. There are many more choices that I have to make. But the storm, the emotional and spiritual upheaval, is over. And like with ever storm – at the end of it you see the wreckage and you see what stood the test of time.

My daughter, in her 19 years of wisdom, said to me yesterday, “Mummy, isn’t it funny how after 16 years there were no postcards for Christmas much less gifts; not even an e-card for your birthday from any of them? I guess we never really mattered; we got those obligatory cards and gifts as long as Aunty J was in our lives!”

My response to her, “Baby girl, blood is thicker than water and we – you and I - have got each other, that’s all that’s important now!”

The storm is over.



P.S. By the way, for those who have asked, the picture in the last post was taken in December by and at a gathering with “My boys.” I am resting on the shoulder of one them. The picture in this post was taken later in December, as the weight kept falling off, in my re-decorated apartment by my woman-friend, M, who came from Toronto to take care of me over the Christmas (there are a few M’s in my life and I am grateful for all of them).


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