Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dark Greens of Meaning

".... How we waste our afflictions!
We study them, stare out beyond them into bleak continuance,
hoping to glimpse some end. Whereas they’re really
our wintering foliage, our dark greens of meaning, one
of the seasons of the clandestine year—; not only
season —: they’re site, settlement, shelter, soil, abode
."
--Rilke

So it seems rather pathetic to go on referring to a single life as an "affliction," but I still can appreciate the meaning of these lines by Rilke in context of my life.

One of the people who helped me immensely along the way was a mentor and friend, I'll call her Teri, who met with me and my sister about 6 years ago for dessert and coffee at a tiny restaurant in New Braunfels, TX. In the course of our conversation, she asked both of us to talk about the next 5 years of our lives and what we thought that would look like. I took a deep breath, paused, met her eyes...and she interrupted me: "And don't say marriage or kids. You're not in control of that."

This threw me, but at the same time, I knew she was right. Not that I knew for a fact I would be single for the next five years, but I knew that I had indeed given up control of those decisions. There have been times throughout my life where I could have taken that control back, if I had valued marriage itself above God's direction in my life.

In the course of our conversation, all three of us cried as Teri shared her story honestly and helped us wrestle with discovering what we saw as essentials in our lives and projected those essentials into a future that was uncertain. It's been longer than 5 years now, and I don't remember the exact conclusions of that conversation. I know I probably talked about working long-term with Worldview Academy; I can guess that books and art and people and teaching were central to my core desires for the next 5 years.

But because of Teri's faithful, honest words, I walked away from that evening stronger in the knowledge that the next 5 years would be livable, no matter what happened; that the time was important, that I needed to watch for those "dark greens of meaning" in the years to come.

"site, settlement, shelter, soil, abode." Many people talk about single life as a "season," but the truth is that life is just LIFE, no matter the season, and who I am--and who you are--may be shaded, altered, and influenced by seasons, but our identity is not dependent on seasons, but on where--or in Whom--you abide.

2 comments:

Becky Perry said...

Jana,
I know it's been years since we've talked, but I stumbled across your blog again recently, and wanted to let you know that I've been both encouraged and challenged to hear your heart on this issue.
I'm moving to NYC in August -- if you happen to pass through New York this year, I'd love to see you.
Blessings,
Becky
Psalm 61:2

Single and Sane said...

"And don't say marriage or kids. You're not in control of that."

What wonderful advice, that too few people ever receive.

I'm loving your blog!

Blessings,
Margaret