I wrote last week about the death of old habits. What I had in mind was that I was already seeing, already feeling the tug-of-war between the past and the future in me. I also had in mind that others among us were experiencing similar tensions. I also hoped to indicate that these tensions were not all bad or to be avoided as much as acknowledged, examined, learned from and appreciated. In short, the tension is a good thing. And it is a good thing that it is a good thing, because it is not likely to end quickly.
At this point I need to say something I learned from another time in my life. It is that all change brings loss and all loss brings grief. As good as our future looks, there is still some -- or something very much like -- grieving going on.
For me grieving has a half-life of residual effect. As an example, I remember my divorce in 1982 and how I thought of my “ex” every minute that first week, then every hour that next week, then every day the next and so on. Re-exposure to the “radiation” would trigger a relapse to a previous level of pain and longing. I knew I was getting better when I noticed that my recovery back to a more normal rate of “decay” improved, too. Feelings for something that happened 30 years can still be triggered. Really I just want my LP’s back. But now I am not afraid to feel those feelings, to hurt just the little that I still do.
“My becoming Rector to Advent, Madison” is a huge -- and for me unique -- transition. It’s less like a divorce and more like a marriage. Still remembering that change>loss>grief applies, I assume the incumbent grief here will have something unique or new about it. I can only hope to acknowledge, examine, learn from and appreciate it.
Regardless, it is better for me to say before I forget: I am grieving, in lots of ways and sizes. Even when I reflect in an engaging and whimsical way, part of me is grieving. Even when I’m too busy to stop, part of me is grieving. Even when I am happy to be here and enjoying the new rhythms and moments of 338 Academy St., part of me is grieving. My smiles and laughter are not fake or superficial or in denial. They are part of the tension of living in two places, in two moments, with at least two emotions. And I believe this tension for now is a good thing.