Friday, December 21, 2007

A Momentary Lapse in Joy

I am finding myself in a strange place tonight. An odd brew of emotions. I have been walking in joy for so long, and last night was such an amazing experience. The culmination of so much, coming for so long. I slept the best sleep I have had in a very long time and woke in such a peaceful place. The meditation on the Henri Nouwen website this morning spoke to me powerfully: Some people say: "Although some people have unique experiences of God's presence and, therefore have unique missions to announce God's presence to the world, all of us - whether learned or uneducated, rich or poor, visible or hidden - can receive the grace of seeing God in the fullness of time. This mystical experience, is not reserved for a few exceptional people. God wants to offer that gift in one way or another to all God's children." What struck me was the connection between experiencing God in what he referred to as mystical experiences and the responsibility for mission. Somehow this had never been quite so clear as it was today.

By noon though, I was crashing. Exhaustion was the first thing that hit. I decided I simply could not be present in any meaningful way at work, so I went home, hoping maybe I could nap or do some of the house sprucing that needs to get done for our church dinner party tomorrow night. Listlessness precluded either of those things. I blog hopped, did some desultory TV watching, wrapped a present or two, and finally, when the work hours had passed, went out and ran errands. The evening found me back at church dropping off some things. Finally, in the dark on the same altar where we so joyously celebrated so few hours ago I found myself crying in the dark. I felt a kind of loss, emptiness, bereftness...that sort of stunned me. I found myself wishing that I could be in the presence of a truly incarnated Jesus...that is enfleshed NOW...not one that was once so long ago...not one coming in our hearts again and and song and story and symbol but here in the physical realm.

I have no idea where this is all arising from. I can't really get a handle on's a complex mix....exhaustion I'm sure. I have not been sleeping well this week...largely from just too much joy and fizz! It may also be a little bit of post-excitement let-down. This thing, coming so long is done. And even though my rational adult self knows that done is simply begun on a new level, some primitive part of me feels bereft. And a lot has been let go of....there is some...vacancy I guess, some loss, even loss of that which is not good for us is still loss. And Dear One pointed out something interesting...that, historically, I do not allow myself to enjoy my "highs" for very long. Hmmmm. From Dear One's perspective at least, in the past I have tended to cut myself off prematurely from my "radiant" moments, and I may be doing it again.

I have even entertained the notion that it may be the presence of evil sneaking up on me...I'm not always so sure where I stand on the embodiment of evil, but it did occur to me as I sat in the dark church between tear storms, to wonder of this might be possible.

I am calmer now than when I sat in the dark church. My plan is to go to sleep very soon , to get up early and write a sermon for Advent 4. Then I'll prepare to entertain my Dinner Bunch and find my joy again. I know it is there. It is real, solid and certain and it has not gone far...this is just a little momentary departure. Regular programming will resume soon. I remain hopeful.


"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...


Mother Laura said...

I have had the crash/countermovement/aftershock to such wonderful graces more than once. No fun but doesn't have to derail you or the Spirit....I am glad you know the joy will come back and think you are very wise to care for yourself and share about it, the measures I at least have always found most crucial and helpful.

Prayers and (((RDK))).

Kathryn said...

I wonder, too, if there is a small measure of disappointment that despite that huge threshold crossed, in many ways you're in the same place, with all its blessings but also with all its challenges intact - so somewhere inside you a voice is asking "Is that it??!..Just a thought
Either way, hope that sermon prep and loving people combine in helpful ways today

karlajean said...

love and grace to you...maybe some of this crashing emptiness is making even more room for birth?

I respect deeply the way in which you articulated this experience, and the love you offered yourself to be in it, and not perform/stay at work/ but intead allowed yourself to wander through it....


Tandaina said...


God is just as present in the darkness as in the joyful fizz. In some ways I think perhaps more present. Our mountaintop experiences can be their own reward, the God we meet there can be a little bit colored by our joy and happiness.

But we also meet God in those dark empty churches, when we cry on the altar (I've been there, done that too). And when we do that, when we're that vulnerable and open I think often God can draw even closer.

Sometimes we need the emptiness to make room for God. I spent a lot of time this summer running from an "emptiness" that scared and distressed me. Until I finally (I'm a slow learner sometimes) realized that emptiness was where I could finally meet God. Just God and I, without all the "stuff" getting in the way. As frightening and unwelcome as the emptiness had been, I needed it. I pray your empty moments might also be God making room within to draw closer to you.

Peace and blessings,

mompriest said...

kate, I think perhaps I am in a similar place. I am reading Tom Brokaw's book, "Boom" about the 1960's; a reflection on then and now. It reminds me that so much hope, vision, and dreaming died and never came to fruition. I weep often reading that book. I think a piece of my deep sorrow is a kind of "universal" sorrow, a Holy Spirit sorrow that is beyond my little life and reflects something deeper in the world.

Where indeed is the Incarnate Christ in our world today?

Perhaps our experiences of grace are multi-dimensional - containing both joy and sorrow simultaneously, because that is also how God understands the world?

I dunno, maybe I'm weird, but I sometimes wonder if I am experiencing "emotions" beyond that too mystical?

Prayers for you...

RevDrKate said...

Thank you all. A community of compassion is such a GOOD thing! I so appreciate the depth of your "getting" this and that I can feel free to process it here. It deepens and adds dimensionality to the experience, painful though it might be....I treasure your words and wisdom.

Barbara B. said...

Let me add my prayers and (((RDK))).

The thought that "done is simply begun on a new level" is a good one.