June is a difficult month to navigate. It’s a month of great sorrow and rich joy. It’s a time of remembering the people who’ve died over the years this month — my grandpa, Beth, a significant mentor, my dear friend, Amy, who died last June 19th, and my son, Baby Long Beach, who died nine years ago, a stillborn.
In contrast, it’s also a month of celebrating many anniversaries — my brother, Bryce and his wife, Shannon, my brother and sister-in-law, Tony and Sara, Auntie Chris and Uncle Don made 50 years this year!, and my own wedding, 18 years ago to my best friend and confidante, Dennis.
Added to this month was the grief of saying good-bye as my dear, dear friend and maid of honor packed her house to move back to her hometown of Sacramento. I’m not sure I even know how to process that one. Luckily, I have two more weeks with her at the end of July when she returns from vacation.
It’s like this, June requires an emotional flexibility I’m not sure I possess. On some level, I’d rather pull the covers over my head or put my head in the sand or walk straight through it without passing Go, without allowing anything to stop my forward progress until July 1st arrives. However, to do so, to escape, would remove me from touching good. Escaping doesn’t just eliminate the hard or negative feelings, it also removes the good and the joyful. When we escape, we don’t have the luxury of choosing what we’re escaping from. Instead, we numb it all.
So, I make it through June with friend gatherings of remembrances, with prayers from myself and others, with journaling, with celebrating dinners, with confessions…to God, to others, and with sharing — entering into my emotions knowing that whatever they are – hard or easy, I’m not alone. And I know that when I’m not alone, I can face whatever this life brings my way — in celebration or in pain. I’m deeply grateful for my friends. And for how deeply I feel my gratitude, I’m grateful for June. “She” reminds me every year that my life would be severely lacking without them.
The month started off with a trip to Julian with our friends, The Ekeys. Here Eden, lil e, Zinnie and Mek remind us to stay cool while hiking through alpine meadows at 80 degrees.
The next weekend was spent in Laguna Beach — rough I know! Eden found the perfect reading spot for the afternoon. We happened to be at the beach when 1,000 of Tuna Crabs migrated up from Mexico. I read in the news these wouldn’t die; they merely needed to wait until the tide came in to catch a ride once more. While visiting my parents in Washington during the last part of June, we met this adorable puppy and her 10 siblings. I honed my shooting skills. Hoping to bring me home some venison this fall. Also while in Washington, we hiked and fished one of our favorite lakes, Tiffany. We made out with our next day’s lunch, Eastern Brooke trout. Quotes Worth Chewing On:
“What deadens us most to God’s presence within, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are engaged in within ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort than being able from time to time to stop that chatter, including the chatter of spoken prayer.” Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets
“Silence helps us drop beneath the superficiality of our mental constructs to that place of the heart that is deeper in its reality than anything the mind can capture or express in words. It is a place of longing and desire and reaching for that which we do not yet have. In this wordless place the whole of our person turns itself toward God and waits to be addressed by God. This kind of prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart; that is, at the point of our being where there are no divisions or distinctions and where we are totally one. There God’s spirit dwells and there the great encounter takes place. There heart speaks to heart, because there we stand before the face of the Lord, all-seeing within us.” — Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Solitude and Silence
“Jesus dismantled our notion of identity as solely tied to a group, social status, or role. When He commanded us to love our enemy, He invited us into serious self-reflection about how we perceive our meaning and purpose in this world. The Incarnation represents the ultimate example of crossing and collapsing boundaries. Jesus crossed over into the natural world to form a bridge between Creator and created. He calls us to do the same with those we might consider strangers or enemies, because we were once strangers ourselves. This is not just to a call to those who identify themselves as Christian activists — it is a call to all who call themselves Christ followers…..The Gospel is offensive. Not just because it calls people to a higher moral standard or challenges a secular worldview. The Gospel offends because it confronts fortified structures of power and privilege. It threatens those who receive societal benefit for belonging to a particular group and trims the cultural hedges of a domesticated suburban life. The Gospel contests national, religious, and social identity. It demands that we cross over the dividing wall of hostility to reconcile with those who might threaten our way of life and to call the stranger a “native among us.” — Robert Welsh in an untitled article written for Azusa Pacific University’s Alumni magazine adapted from Welsh, R. & Alexander, P. (2012). Exemplars of Godly Justice. Peacemaking and justice-seeking in dangerous contexts. PentecoStudies: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Research on the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, 11, 67-86.
“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” — Steven Wright in The Best Joke Book (period): Hundreds of the Funniest, Silliest, Most Ridiculous Jokes Ever by William Donohue
The following three poems are from What Love Comes to: New and Selected Poems by Ruth Stone —
I must be serious, the widow thinks,
I must face reality.
This isn’t a temporary separation.
(Perhaps the widow’s must is expectation.)
Actually the widow thinks he may be
in another country in disguise –
that one day he will come back.
He was only fooling.
That was someone else that they buried.
The widow is told by a great seer
that fifty-two is a magic number.
She consults the muse.
“We must get into a higher gear,”
the muse whispers. “We must shift
out of this phase.”
“Just one more about shoes,”
the widow begs.
The muse shakes her head.
“No. We must get back to the real thing.
The blood and meat of the world.”
The muse took the widow in her arms.
“Now say it with me,” the muse said.
“Once and for all…he is forever dead.”
The human animal has turned a corner.
We no longer recognize one another.
I am the old species
but I must not weep. If I weep for myself
I am twice discarded.
“Don’t week,” says the old brain,
“listen – I have it all on video
at half the price.”
Songs on Repeat Mode:
I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad
Counting on Love by Matt McAndrew
Hot Gates by Mumford and Sons
House Party by Sam Hunt
Break Up in a Small Town by Sam Hunt
Girl Crush by Little Big Town
Round and Round by 3 Doors Down
Books on My Nightstand:
The Best Joke Book (period): Hundreds of the Funniest, Silliest, Most Ridiculous Jokes Ever by William Donohue
Thirsty by Mary Oliver
An Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Haley Barton
The Best American Short Stores 2013 Edited by Elizabeth Strout