Like visiting your Home Church

I didn’t grow up Christian, but for those who did, the experience of leaving home and eventually returning to visit, including a Sunday morning spent in your home church, is probably familiar. For most everyone I know, they left home to go to college, so in theory they became more educated, and along the way they generally became less conservative, began to enjoy a different style of worship, and generally identified less and less with their home church. Returning brings a mix of emotions, from peace and security that carried over to childhood, to trepidation and anxiety about being accepted after having changed so much, and maybe some frustration or bitterness that the home church hasn’t changed. It’s a weird combination of joy and fear and nostalgia.

That’s what I felt last night listening to the Mixtapes last night at Patton Alley. That music was my safe space when I was in junior high and high school, and the alternative and punk rock of the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s gave me permission to stop caring what other people thought, to become my own person, and choose the type of life I wanted to live. Listening to a lot of my old favourite songs last night, none of which I had heard performed live before (and the band was awesome and did a fantastic job), was my version of visiting the home church. The nostalgia brought a mix of peace and joy mixed with sadness and loss.

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Can’t Burn My Bridges

Bridge

I had two dreams the other night with recurring themes. In the first, we were having a World Affairs Council reunion at our house. Except it wasn’t just WAC members, it was everyone who had impacted my life in the last seven years, crowded into and around our front yard, grilling burgers under the night sky and drinking punch beside a giant bonfire. It was a tense affair because the new WAC members felt threatened and intimidated by the old WACcers, afraid we’d come back and take over or something, while the alumni just reminisced about the good old days and how much fun we had.

The second dream was long and involved, but included a trip to my high school auditorium. While wandering up and down the rows of wooden seats, the backs of the chairs suddenly started to catch fire as if someone had smeared oil along the tops of them and tossed a match. I calmly bent down, blowing on the chairs to put the fire out, working my way along the aisles to make sure all the flames were put to rest.

If you ever do a Google search for the meaning of fire in dreams, you’ll probably find yourself as frustrated as I was because dream analysis is all a bunch of bologne. Apparently, fire can mean pretty much anything in a dream (surprised?), but there was a theme picked up by all the different articles. Though the writers observed that fire can be positive or negative, destructive or life-bringing, comforting or threatening, it was also often linked with destroying or cutting ties to one’s past. That, or an inability to do so.

I’ve had a reversal of fortunes in the last six years of college in regards to my memory. When I began college, I had very poor short-term memory, to the extent that I would often forget conversations while having them, couldn’t keep appointments, and had to write everything down to remember anything. I got lost because I couldn’t recall directions, and I had trouble with just about everything. But sometime during my freshman year, my memory drastically improved (which is a story for another time). Since then, it has continued improving, and now I remember pretty much everything. I haven’t gone to the complete opposite end of the spectrum (just like my memory was never completely non-existant), but I do remember more than most people I think.

I remember specific feelings, able to almost relive them, and I remember entire conversations, their twists and turns. I still can’t quote movies all that well, but that’s because I never try to remember movies. In general, I can now look back over the last decade and put just about everything together in my mind.

This means that I can’t let anything go, though, and while I’m much better at keeping myself from dwelling on sorrow and loss (having let it go emotionally, at least), I can’t forget any of those experiences.

But really, I don’t want to. I treasure the memories with fondness, and I am glad that I can look back and remember exactly what it was like to be somewhere or do something. It helps keep me from yearning for the past, or from putting it on a pedestal. My memory keeps me firmly grounded in reality.

No, I don’t want to burn those memories, or forget where I came from. But just because that bridge is there, that doesn’t mean I want to cross back over it either. I’m happy just to know it exists.

Seeking Closure

I wrote a pretty bad poem by this title around four years ago, when Abbey was ending her friendship with me. Amongst all the different failed relationships I had, I wanted to know why they had ended so poorly, what the final straw was, and how to make things better or, at the least, not make the same mistakes again in the future.

A few months, or maybe a year, later I read the poem again, then wrote another poem in reply mocking it. The original was sappy, and Granting Closure was what I needed; a kick in the rump telling me to get over it and move on.

Ever since Margaret got back in touch with me (around a year ago or more now, I think), however, I’ve been craving that closure once again. I don’t need to know what failed now, though. I have a pretty good idea that it was me: I failed.

The blame isn’t all on my side of the table; I’ve learned to not blame myself for everything under the sun. But I still feel, or felt rather, the need to apologize. To try and make amends. At the least, to let them know that I’m sorry for my part in the negativity and failure of the friendship.

So I’ve been contacting these people, apologizing and tying up loose ends. As of last week, I sent the final missive, and there are no ends left to tie.

There are probably two others I could contact, but am not, either because communication has been tried in the past and failed, or because it doesn’t seem worthwhile. When trust has been so badly damaged, an apology becomes worthless; how do you know they mean it, and aren’t just trying to manipulate you yet again? I have nothing left to apologize for in those instances, and their words could never mean anything to me. I’ve elected rather to let it lie in the past, where it belongs, and move on towards a brighter future.

There is an important part of me that has found peace through this process, and what’s more, I’ve discovered the wonder that is forgiveness. Its healing power is truly remarkable, and I never understood it before this last year.

Being forgiven by God is one thing, and difficult to grasp and understand. Being forgiven by Margaret, or Katie, or Jennifer, or all the others is another entirely, and helps me understand my Lord all the better. Jesus has forgiven me for far greater things than these few forgave me, yet how wonderful their forgiveness is.

The question has been posed many times elsewhere, “What would our lives look like if we were to act truly forgiven?” I suspect it would be happier, and far more free. It is something I need to work on, accepting and understanding God’s forgiveness. On a mental level, I have, but now that I have felt mortal forgiveness, I can recognize that a part of me is struggling to accept God’s forgiveness.

It will be the last great closure I will ever need to seek.

Cobblestone Jaunt

We’d set out as the sun would set,
Dusk settling like child’s blanket,
Comforting chirp of insect’s mate
And frogs who sought their hunger sate.
The small town crossed and crossed again
With naught an hour passed, and then
We’d head back home, assured we’d share
Another walk without a care.

Those days have passed, those times are gone;
Though can’t reclaim, still rise the sun,
And now I walk on clean poured stone-
The cobbles gone like bird that’s flown.
My eyes downcast in silent cloak,
Lost in my thoughts and sorrowed hope:
Someday I’ll find a friend to walk,
Someone to share cobblestone jaunt.

Sweet Sixteen

I have loved and I have lost but I have never lost my name.
I have fought the losing fight but it has never been in vain.
I have risen from the pyre and I will never be the same.
I have seen all that is in you and I’ll never look again,
For I have burnt the bridge behind me and filled in that noisome grave.

I have run with wolves and lions but have never caught the deer.
I have conquered Hell through fury but I still can taste my fear.
I have battled to draw near you but have never been drawn near.
I have walked into exile but I refuse to disappear,
For I have loved and I have lost you and I won’t fall to despair.

I have ever been a servant but have never bowed my knee.
I have always been a drunkard but have never tasted mead.
I have studied since my birth but I have never studied Bede.
I have let you pierce my heart but I do not have blood to bleed,
For I have renounced foolish love and on this day I turn Sixteen.

Compliment

You don’t want me for
whatever reason.
I don’t mind.
You needn’t justify your personal
desires; your dislike for facial hair
or the way I actually look
into your eyes.
Don’t think I worry that
you do not find me unattractive.
I don’t care.

I do not call you beautiful
because I want you.
I think you pretty
because you are.