Following our divorce I decided to spend holidays away from home: Thanksgiving with Christopher, Christmas with Stephen and our daughters (Gabriella, Noelle & Natalie), and Easter with Eric.
Home has taken on new meaning without the father in the house and during these pandemic times, the meaning of family shifted again.
Clint Smith writes in the March 22 issue of the Atlantic:
…with our climate on the cusp of irreversible catastrophe, I have spent more time than ever before contemplating how each of our fates is inextricably linked to the actions of everyone else. Home is more than simply the residence where we sleep. It is the people we hold, and the planet that holds us.
At first, letting go of having my home be the center of all family celebrations transformed into hosting an annual family reunion at Himmelblau Haus on Kelleys Island. Then, when I followed family & friends advice to sell HBH before turning 80, simply becoming more present, has become my Leitmotif.
As the kids were growing up, much of my time was dedicated to political endeavors, my spouses and my own. In retrospect I wish I had better understood the importance of mother’s presence in the lives of our children. In those years I saw a good mothers task to create space for growth and independence for children by setting the example myself. They did grow up and I am growing old and all of us are independent but what I neglected was to create a safe space of belonging.
I suppose we either recreate our own home of origin or its opposite depending on how happy or miserable we experienced our childhood selves to have been?
My father was no fun to be with, in fact wounded by his war experience he was demanding and destructive. My mother while present and loving, was unappreciated, stuck at home and powerless. When I fled home I wanted to be nothing like them and free to reinvent my own family and home.
In following my call to ordination I finally learned to appreciate the paradox of presence in both its fragility and strength. The two sides of Ordination finally set me free to follow my heart’s desire, not as parental/patriarchal presider and preacher, but as priestly presence.
I used to believe that satisfaction/happiness is getting what I want? But over the years I have come to realize that satisfaction/joy is wanting what I am given.
One of the insights that earned Daniel Kahnemann & Amos Tversky the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics is that “…our urge for more is quite powerful, but stronger still is our resistance to less.”
This is why now I can honestly say, that I am deeply grateful for the hard lessons I learned from my parents, the many painful teachings, for better and for worse, I received from my spouse and the growing I was privileged to participate & witness with all our children and grandchildren.
I trust that as long as I have breath, just being lovingly present, close and away from home is enough. My promise to present & future great grandkids and other sentient being, in & around me is simply this:
From now on……with God’s help, I am going to be present in person and in spirit always.