Friday, November 10, 2006

changes

Change is inevitable, they say. And in a temporal world filled with things that are dependent upon time, this is true. Two things happened this week to remind me how change can be a planned thing, or transpire at a moment's notice, yet the effects seem the same. I have two friends who could not be more different, but both have a very special place in my life. One is my pastor of almost 10 years, and the other is a young man in prison, who I really just started writing to in the past year. My husband and I believe God is moving in such a way right now in our lives that it is time to move on from our home church. It took time to process through this decision, to pray and agonize over whether it was right because of the effects on our church if we left, and the fact that we'd be leaving many old friends behind. Certainly for me, the most significant relationship I'd have to leave would be Pastor Dave. We could remain friends and still e-mail, but things really will never be the same again. We have agreed to stay on until the end of the year, so it is a matter of trying to keep to the path knowing time is winding down. There is a cloud of grief that hangs over our times together no matter how much we know this is right and are wanting to leave with joy and the faith that this will allow both the church and ourselves to more clearly see the path we all need to take for the future. I'm not sure what to do with this except to walk through it.

I found out yesterday that my friend in prison had his sentence commuted. I think I knew it was coming, and I know what good news this is and how appropriate and right the decision is by the court system due to the circumstances of the crime and sentencing. What I didn't expect, as glad as I wanted to be for my friend, was grief that began to spread through my chest like an ink drop on wet paper as I rode to work. It was raining outside, and the rain reflected my mood all morning. I did not realize how much this man had come to mean to me, and the grief told me I'm afraid to lose him. The worst days I had in the past year were the ones where, like a thief, the realization of my son's situation grabbed me around the neck and choked any joy out of my day that I could scrounge up. Oftentimes there would be a snail-mail letter in my box from this man, and somehow his compassion and understanding of prison life, and his encouragements pulled the thief from around my life. In my last letter to him I told him I have never met anyone so free. Prison bars do not a prisoner make. He flew right through those bars by loving his fellow inmates and accepting them for who they are. He learned, grew, wrote and used his time in prison to change. And now that change is a change in his circumstances. I pray he embraces life on the outside like he did in prison, with gratitude and trust. It's a new start, but for me it's an ending of sorts. He'll no longer have the time or focus he once did.

I'm sitting here trying to find the way to hold this sincere grief in my heart without letting it become an unwieldy thing that I can't manage. To love is God's way. This I know. I have let myself love, and I believe my grief is underscoring that fact. All I can say today it, this is right, and I am sad. My life is forever changed from knowing these men and being a friend to them both. It's ok.

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