Dearest one and I went to town yesterday to buy groceries. We were sadly overdue to restock our cupboards. It was a blessing to be able to do it so freely. It's been three and a half years since we were on welfare and using the foodbank and I still marvel at the privilege of going and buying groceries without having to pick between toilet paper and milk. I hope I never take it for granted.
At our little church in the boonies we arrived today to find the furnace has been going out on and off all week. Most likely the propane has been gelling in the cold. Did you know propane gelled when it got too cold? Everyone took it in stride when I did the first and second readings with scarf and mitts still on. I took my mitts off during communion and then put them right back on. There are frozen pipes in the basement and a pressure pump that will need replacing. Such is life in the frozen north.
Just a few days until Lent begins. I've decided to forego blogging except on Sundays during Lent. I'm actually going to be giving up all internet use except on Sundays for the duration. That is probably the hardest thing for me to fast from. I spend several hours a day on the computer. Lent is a time for deepening conversion with attention to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Our priest is from India and he shared today several of the traditions he grew up with. One was how during Lent, before the daily rice was put in the pot, the youngest member of the family would take a handful of rice and set it aside. For the full 40 days this would be done and then on Good Friday every family brought their rice to the church and had the priest bless it. Then the poor of the community would receive this rice. He also shared that every family had a clay pot with a slit in it for money to be put in but no hole on the bottom for it to come out. Throughout Lent they would sacrificially put money in the pot and then after Easter Vigil all the pots would be collected and broken open. He said the parish had 5 to 6 thousand families in it and the money would be counted and then sent to a charity that distributed help to the poor. He emphasised that it wasn't the amount of money or rice but the intent of the heart.
I had a difficult conversation with my older sister yesterday. We are both going to only daughter's final project and she offered that I could catch a ride home with her and my dad for a visit. We live 8 hours north of only daughter and they live 5 hours east. I told her I didn't know if now would be a good time in light of homework I recently completed for my counseling surrounding the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. My parents still live in my childhood home and this would be the first time I'd go home without my brick walls of numbed feelings in place. I'm learning to speak my truth and in doing so I'm pushing up against ingrained patterns which is difficult for my sister. At one point she said to me, "why can't you come home and pretend like we've always done - that our family is normal? I told her I was past that. This was after she suggested that I get my counselor to give me homework to do while I was at home. I told her I wouldn't do that, couldn't chance it when I would be without my support group around me. It was a painful conversation. The worst was when she suggested I phone my older brother and suggest he meet us there as well. That it would be an opportunity for him to support only daughter, too. I couldn't tell her that only daughter's final project was a play based on the warped messages I gave her about sexuality while she was growing up. A play where only daughter works through those messages and finds some peace while the mother relives the memory of a rape. My sister distances herself when I talk about my pain of being molested. By the brother she thinks would be a great addition to the family reunion. I couldn't comprehend being in the same room as him while watching this play. I couldn't tell my sister why I couldn't phone him about it because I didn't want to take the chance of her minimizing my story. I hung up the phone and cried. I told dearest one that I was fighting the lie that I was a bad person for taking the lid off of family secrets, off the stuff we were never supposed to talk about. I fought against feeling like I was a bitch for speaking my truth. For not smoothing things over so she would feel more comfortable.
As luck would have it there is a great seat sale on right now so that it's affordable for me to travel back with them by car and then fly home later. I'm glad I don't have to make the decision today.
I woke up this morning spoonless. Not surprising, but still disappointing. Doing good self care feels like it requires the energy needed for mountain climbing. I've heard it said many times at meetings: What I'm doing isn't working so something needs to change. For me that means molding my day around doing basic self care. Dressed and showered. Eat 3 healthy meals. Drink enough water. Journal. Exercise. Prayer and meditation. I've gotten sloppy with all of it. Anything I accomplish above and beyond self care will be a bonus.
Lent will be a welcome opportunity to reflect, to pay attention to the littlest of disciplines that help my days be more peace filled. Often I get derailed as I walk past the computer on my way to eat breakfast. One brief "oh, I'll just check my email" ends up with me realizing hours later that it's midmorning or lunch time and I'm still in my pjs. Two new disciplines I'd hoped to begin this year were yoga and centering prayer. The resources to learn them came in the mail on Friday so they will be part of my Lenten routine. Both disciplines have been calling to me for a while and I'm willing to take the time to soak them both in and hopefully incorporate them into my self care routine.
I thought this weekend about my next counseling session. I envisioned walking in and asking my counselor if she wanted the good stuff or the bad first. Then I realized however challenging, however painful this past while has been, in reality, it's all good stuff. All necessary for deepening conversion. Every time I receive the Eucharist I ask Christ to transform me. Fr. Charlie keeps encouraging me that when we speak our truth the ripple effect of it is that our families experience transformation, too.
Dearest one questioned the healthiness of putting myself in harm's way. For speaking my truth and dealing with the consequences when I could've just kept my mouth shut and avoided the pain. I told him I was convinced that speaking my truth will only get easier as I practice doing it. That one day I will be able to have the same conversation with my sister and not end up in tears over it. That wounds can be healed. That transformation can happen. That, in the end, as Julian of Norwich says:
"...All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."Even the weather.