Thursday, April 22, 2010

The back of my throat

There is a taste in the back of my throat. It's been there a day or two--not just post nasal drip--something wondrous and so sweet.

You know how they say we taste different tastes in different parts of our mouths? Know about that? Somewhere for salt, somewhere else for sweet, another place for sour....Lips and the tip of your tongue for.....let that go.....

Anyway, back there in my throat there has been a taste for a day or two.

I finally figured it out. It is the taste of happiness....

It took me so long because I'm not used to that taste. I am a consummately "joyful" person. But I don't think of myself as 'happy'--too ironic and reflective for that. Oh, I know how happiness tastes--holding a grandchild, watching the night sky, listening to music I love, eating ice cream...sure, I know that. But I'm not attached to it.

"Happiness", it seems to me, is a Bobbe Prize--a 'feeling', not something chosen, like "joy", a passing fancy, here today, gone in a heart-beat, like that.

Being at St. John's all these years has been remarkably, profoundly, always 'joyful' for me. But I see so much pain and loss and longing that I'm seldom 'happy' about it all. But, 'leaving St. John's' is so excruciating and exhausting that I realize now that the 'leaving' is almost over and in the back of my throat I taste happiness. Not to 'be gone', but that the horror of 'leaving' is almost done. It's like when I stood by my each of my parents' graves. Life was finally still and done for them, I could take a deep breath and move on. Like that.

Today I talked to a 24 year old woman from New Hampshire who wanted me to give her $700 to fix her car so she could go home to appear in court in Manchester tomorrow. I had no such amount of money, but I offered her a bus ticket home. That I could do. She left to consider it and never came back. Why she was here, why she was stranded, why she didn't take the bus, why she needed to appear in court...none of that do I know and did not ask. I know what not to ask, have learned that well....But she was lovely in many ways, very articulate (which English majors like me appreciate) and I can't for the life of me imagine what such a lovely, articulate young, young woman needs to be in court for.....

Then I talked to a man twice my size--quite a man that is!--about his father's funeral. His father is not yet dead but will be and we were discussing the whole thing. And this huge, massive man sat and sobbed for half-an-hour for his father who is not yet dead. Deep breaths is what I need. I need to focus and taste the taste in the back of my throat.

We are all--you, me, everyone--like the wings of the little parakeets I can hear yelling downstairs as I type. So fragile, so delicate, so intricately created, almost painfully perfect...that's what we are, you and I and everyone. Stranded far from home, innocent but due in court. Huge, strong, invincible but so pained.

That's what hooked me on this whole thing--this life, this work, this ministry--just the fragility of life itself and how seldom, in the back of our throats, happiness comes.....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.