Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quiet for Christmas

I'm giving myself the gift of Quiet this Christmas season.

I spend hours every day reading blogs.  Good ones.  I read about current events, politics, theology, ecclesiology, missions, science, cooking, crafting... I'm addicted to information.  I've always been a reader, since I was a little child, and I enjoy having a broad range of topics to learn about.  Staying informed is part of being a responsible citizen, after all, and a responsible part of the Church.

All of those are good things, to a point.  But sometimes, all those topics, all those voices, all those websites, become like so much noise, drowning out my own voice, my own heart.

The Christmas songs are playing, the lights are going up, and in the midst of trying to figure out what I want to get and give for Christmas, I have rediscovered Florence + the Machine's fantastic anthem "Shake It Out," and somehow, it has become my Advent theme song.

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
'Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out! Shake it out!
Shake it out! Shake it out!
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off!

I just want some quiet, some time to think.

And so I'm taking it.  Today, I cut my Google Reader list down from 25+ blogs to 6.  Just 6!  And for the rest of 2012, I hereby forswear any news program that isn't aired between 10 pm and 11 pm on Comedy Central.

After Christmas is over, I might pick some of them back up.  I might not.  It depends on what I find while I sit in the quiet, I guess.

This is going to be good!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Missing

It's been a month since I made the time to sit down and write a post, but it's been a good month, so I'm taking it easy on beating myself up. 

I took a trip with the kids.  We stayed with Greg's parents for several days, visited with his sister one night, and had a couple nice visits with my mom, and then I went to the wedding of a dear friend.  

Things at work are going reasonably well.  Greg's parents came up for Thanksgiving and spent a few days.  The turkey was excellent, the gravy was passable, and a good time was had by all.  Then we put up the Christmas decorations, and spent a wonderful, quiet Saturday morning just reading and relaxing together.

All that is to say, life is wonderful.  And yet, something is missing.

Yesterday in Sunday school, we discussed church. And Church.  And communion, community, authenticity and vulnerability...  It was interesting.

It left me feeling lonely and alone.  

We have lived in Omaha for exactly 11 months today.  We've been attending our church for nearly that long.  I know most of the regulars well enough to exchange greetings in the hallways.  I know the moms enough to lament potty training and unfortunate 4-year-old fashion choices.  A few people know enough about me to ask how my new job is working out and how we're adjusting to my going back to work.  

I like our church, and I like our people.  I feel reasonably at-home there.  But when the service ends, I go round up my kids and head home, and the folks there aren't a part of my reality for the next six days.  Maybe that's my fault for not being more engaged.  Maybe it's no one's "fault" at all.  We knew this was a possible outcome when we decided to attend a church we were not geographically close to, but I hadn't counted on the loneliness in the other areas of my life exacerbating the isolation.

I've never been alone like this before.  We bought this house at the end of June, and I know my neighbors on either side well enough to pass the time of day or borrow a cup of sugar.  I know Greg's coworkers well enough to enjoy their company, but that isn't exactly an intimate friendship.  I am getting to know my coworkers, too, now that I have some, and I enjoy the interaction, but I miss having friends.

Our nearest friends live two hours north of us.  Another close friend lives in North Platte.  One lives in Chicago, one near Little Rock, one in Phoenix...  Greg's family and both branches of mine live 500-600 miles away.

Greg's parents can and do visit.  My family doesn't really.  My friends all have school and work obligations, kids in school, et cetera.  

I just feel alone.  The blue-and-white glow of Facebook is a sorry substitute for tea and cookies in the living room.

Five+ years ago, we moved from Waco, Texas to North Platte, Nebraska, and the adjustment to the isolation of the Sandhills was hard.  I felt so far from everyone I had known and loved, but I also had a loving church family surrounding me, and I haven't realized until now how very much I leaned on them, counted on them to help me stand up tall.  

(I don't want to sound like I'm blaming our church for falling short in some way.  Our church is a great little place, and we enjoy the people there very much, particularly the way they love and nurture our kids.  I really like several of the people, and think if we lived closer, we might be closer, but we live quite a distance away, and so I don't know what to think.)

Our little nuclear family is doing great, and I enjoy living in the Midwest.  Omaha is a great place to live.  I derive much pleasure from living north of the Mason-Dixon line.  I don't miss excessive humidity or mosquito swarms, and I certainly don't miss the politics of the SBC... But, if given the chance to move "home" today, I'm not sure I wouldn't grab some boxes and start packing.