Saturday, 29 October 2016

Settling but unsettled

Given that you're reading this post, you know that the title of this blog is "Reflection from the Road: a progressive Christian minister's musings on life, spirituality and following the Way of Jesus." If you've been reading my most recent posts, you will know that my musings have been decidedly tilted toward musings on life. Understandable given the huge transition we have recently made in our lives.
Fortunately things have started to settle down for us. 95% of boxes are unpacked at home, 100% at church. Most of our paintings are on the wall. I've settled into the groove of commuting 35 minutes to the church on a busy highway. I'm getting used to schedule of RHUC and will slowly get used to the congregational culture. I've even got into a rhythm of driving up to see dad after church on Sunday, bringing him some meals and then going out to dinner with him before heading home.

You know things are settling when you see snow on the lawn before Hallowe'en and you say "This feels like home now." Ironically the same statement tells me that I'm not really settled yet, still betwixt and between, Only an Edmontonian feels a sense of comfort when it snows before November. Every one around us was pulling their hair out that it had snowed already and were feeling very relieved when the temperature went up again and all the snow melted. It reminds me that I'm missing Alberta, missing the northern vibe, the landscape, and of course the friends I've left behind. The lack of a new friendship network is a good part of why I'm feeling unsettled. Glen is here, of course, and I can share anything with him, but it's nice to have others to talk to about my experiences so far. And he certainly doesn't want to be the only person I share with. There's only so much the strong and silent type can take from a Chatty Cathy like me.

And to be honest, I need a listening ear because I've had some unsettling experiences. For example, it was great my second weekend to go see my dad (Glen stayed home), make sure he was well, chat about a few different things, check in to see what he thought of our plan to bring him meals. It was nice to talk about life, especially for my dad to share about when my mom died, to share his memories. But the next weekend we cycled through many of the same topics, including things he shared about my mom, many of the things he said were word for word repeats of the phrases he used the Sunday before. As I pulled away I knew I'd be going through the same thing tomorrow. And that realization brought a sinking feeling into my chest. "Can I handle this?" I wondered.

That unsettling feeling was compounded when I drove to Barrie for a church meeting. As I drove along the 400 and passed various road signs I was brought back in my mind to living there as a boy, and of course the experience of losing my mom. This was amplified when at the end of the meeting someone was introduced to me and without missing a beat he looked at me and said "You're Alan's son. You look just like him." It turned out the person I was introduced to had been in medical practice with my dad. We started to chat about my dad, questions asked about how he is doing, and memories shared about happy times, and of course the sadness of my mom's death. "Is that why I'm here? Not just to minster with the good folks of Richmond Hill, not just to help my dad, but to process through some of my own memories?" As I drove back to Keswick my eyes filled with tears and I wondered again, "Can I handle this?"

In the end I know I can, but it was a shock to think about this additional layer of work. It will be unsettling, I'm sure, but needs to be so that I can become settled.


  1. Wow, those are some trying situations, to be sure!
    I always used to hate comparisons to my dad and uncles, but even before he passed, I began to take a sort of comfort in it. Revisiting the past this way can be trying, but I hope it holds some rewards for you too.

  2. Thanks Stephen. Dad was in good form on Sunday.

  3. we miss you, james! change is so hard, even when it is worth it....I (fairly) recently made a huge professional change and remember this well. it's overwhelming. but, on the other side of it, I can say that I see the gifts in it now. I will be praying for peace for you as you continue on your journey. I know you will bless your new congregation as you blessed us.

  4. Thanks. It is hard but I will get there.