Saturday, July 23, 2005

Praying In

Driving back from Berkeley tonight, away from the mild breezes of the East Bay and into the warm dry winds of the central valley, I felt a little lonely.

This is not only because Karen is away this week, presenting a paper at a conference in Montreal, but also because I had spent some time tonight with some good friends. I was invited back to Nichols, the apartment complex where Karen and I lived during four years of graduate school. There was a barbecue planned, and I love barbecues, just as I love my friends at seminary. So I headed back to Berkeley.

It's odd, isn't it, that spending time with such close friends could make a person feel so forlorn. These are friends I have traveled to conferences with, friends with whom I have shared countless glasses of wine, beer, and scotch. These are friends who have shared their frustration and loss with me. They are people to whom I have looked for comfort. These are good friends, so I liked sitting there at the barbecue, grilling steak and sausages, enjoying a moment that felt so familiar. I've grilled like that so many times, and it was like I was putting on my favorite sweater again, me smiling as I overhear conversations about picky professors, me talking about baseball with one of the Muller boys. It was just like I remembered it, and it was like nothing had changed.

But the conversation turned, after the grilling was done and as the sun was setting, toward next year's class schedule and who was moving into my old apartment. And suddenly I knew that things were not just as they had always been. I've moved to Davis, they remain in Berkeley. I will begin a new job in September, just as they are beginning another year of classes. For my friends things will be rehearsed and familiar, while I will start something fresh and unfamiliar. It was difficult to know in my heart now, what I already knew in my head. My life has changed, and it will never be just as it was on all those other mild evenings in the Nichols courtyard.

I wish I could write something, about God, or reconciliation, or how Jesus knows this feeling too. But it would be too facile to finish this one up neatly. It's not a neat ending, but a messy one, of confused feelings of loss and thanksgiving, of hope and desolation.

And I find that I am not praying to God for a wish to be granted, but in difficulty; in the middle of a hard time of aridity, and change.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Ruth said...

Oh boy do I understand! I feel for you as you go through this transition.
As I read this, I was reminded of a little dining room, wine, beer, scotch, sour cream and onion chips and a funny little chinese game! Pre kids seems a lifetime away and there are so many new challenges everyday. I'm comforted by new memories being built before my eyes, new things to laugh at and learn about. Life's funny that way.
I'm glad you couldn't sum it all up... I was beginning to think you had all the answers.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 6:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Julien said...

With each person's departure and with each person's arrival there is a perceptible change. CDSP is never the same. This too brings both joy and loss.

Preston you have left your mark here.

I feel the loss of not being able to take the 30 second walk to your apartment for the numerous activities we shared. I feel the joy of your Ordination and success in life. Most of all I know we are friends.

It is all messy and hard. I am sure God is in the messyiness. God has to be - how else would I have gotten a Candian,whiskey drinkin, A's fan as one of my best friends.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 7:48:00 AM  
Blogger Preston said...

As I wrote that post, I desperately wanted to have the answer, and sum it up perfectly.

But I couldn't do it. There was nothing I could say that made any sense.

It's hard to admit that I don't have the right thing to say, but I confess.

I don't have all the wanswers.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 1:20:00 PM  
Blogger Preston said...

Try this, Julien - God has got to be in my friendship with a Cuban-American-French Canadian BoSox loving Mojito drinking Roman Catholic JVC staff-person. Who is not very tall.

We sang a hymn this morning about how God gathers us together like we gather grains of wheat on the hillside in order to bake one loaf of bread. If it's true, it's amazing to think that all of us might gather sometime. Maybe one of the miracles of heaven will be six-hand mahjong, with me, Karen, Julien, Sabeth, Ruth and Chris all playing together.

With lots of sour cream and onion chips, and after that, the finest of spirits to enjoy together.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 1:30:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Preston, I read this post after coming home from serving at Church of the Advent this morning, and I can really identify with what you've written. After so many years of intense involvement with my parish I feel on the edge of things; "of" them but not really one of them anymore. I have loved spending my summer at my home church but I always feel a little unsettled and arid these days - like seminary and the ordination is a long goodbye with lots of changes and growth on all sides.

By the way, the thought of not seeing you around next year(especially at staff meeting!)makes me sad.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 4:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

I was sad to say good-bye to you tonight, Preston. In fact, I've been sad since our conference earlier this summer at Villanova, when I realized how very much I like you and how little I know of you. If only our time in seminary had found us more often in the same place at the same time. Better yet would have been my acting on my early sense of pull toward you in your wisdom and actively seeking you out while you were still here in the East Bay. The best I can do now is promise myself and you that I will stay in touch.

We do truly know one another well enough (if not simply "well") to begin to build on our friendship via correspondence...

Blessings on you, your family, and your ministry, my friend!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 2:38:00 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing this post. The further I travel on my own path towards (hopefully, someday) ordination, the more important it is for me to know that ordained folks are still vulnerable and still wrestle with things, just as I do. :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 4:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Dina vK said...

Left behind...
what a strange season... friends are gone, but not really gone, and new people are moving in that are nice enough and probably will become new friends, and I bought my books for fall but I'm busily looking to put Everett on Baltimore preschool waiting lists for fall 2006 by september 1st... and it's like one foot in seminary and the other on a banana peel (could be worse if I used the right words for this idiom!) Maybe part of saying goodbye to good friends prepares us in small ways for the hard goodbye's we'll face in the spring... at least you and Karen are close enough to visit... Can we come over on Sunday?

Thursday, August 04, 2005 4:19:00 PM  
Blogger Preston said...

DvK - I'll get back to you right away.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 4:42:00 PM  

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