The End: When endings are the doorway to beginning

In an interview released yesterday, Eugene Peterson said if asked, he would officiate a gay marriage. As I am sure you can imagine, the internet exploded. While I agree with his position, that isn’t actually the part of the interview that brought me to tears. Instead, a bit further down the article, the interviewer spoke of endings. Mr. Peterson is 84 years old, reaching the end of a beautiful career and lifetime. The interviewer asked, “One day, as with all of us, Eugene Peterson will not be someone who exists. He will be somebody who did exist once. When that moment comes, how do you hope people will remember Eugene Peterson?”

What a question, eh? One day you will no longer exist. Here is a portion of his response…

“I haven’t been part of anything big. I’ve never been a big church preacher. I’ve never been on the radio or anything like that. I’m so pleased that people care about what I’ve done and support it because these are difficult times for the church. I’m quite aware of that. Anyway, I guess I’m just surprised that anyone would remember at all.

This is where I cried. For a thousand reasons, this honest, gentle response touched my soul. Not three sentences earlier he uttered words that will echo across blogs and tweets and facebook rants for weeks to come, without changing much. No, it’s the gift of his long, consistently beautiful life which we will remember, and he didn’t do any of it for fame or recognition. This is beautiful.

Last week I told my husband, I feel I’ve written out all my bitterness. I still have things I am angry about, of course: injustice, 45, the ways we treat each other. These things make me angry, and they should. Anger is a catalyst for change; I hope I never lose it. But bitterness is anger we turn inward, hanging on to it like a trophy, to prove our rightness, our superiority. At some point, that feeling flowed out of my fingertips and disappeared. My heart feels buoyant, expansive, and filled with light.

I have changed. Nothing else about our situation has. I’m still checking the weather in other people’s cities. I’m still a misfit in a conformist culture. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I really haven’t figured out anything at all. But I understand myself better, and if that is the only thing I take away from the last 100 days, then it is worth the hours and days of effort I put into it.

But it isn’t my only takeaway, not at all. Writing for one hundred days has helped me rediscover my voice, the one I use to speak when I’m not defensive or wounded or (very) afraid.  I learned to sit comfortably with fear, but not with silence, not anymore. I understand now that  I am most powerful when I love well, and sometimes the best way to love well is to let go.

Most importantly, I know I am not alone. You all came with me. Maybe not every day, but you showed up. You spoke up. You let good enough be good enough on days when showing up was the best I could do. I didn’t take this journey alone. I hope that you may also have felt a bit less lonely you yourself. Deconstruction is a difficult, often isolating experience. It’s good to hear the voices of others to help you feel normal, sane or at the very least, not condemned. Like Eugene, I’m just surprised anyone cared enough to read at all. That’s the truth.

I love new beginnings. I always have. But endings? I haven’t always done well with those. Still, here we are. Together at the end, one hundred days later. It takes an ending to give birth to something else new.

There it is. Can you see it?



8 thoughts on “The End: When endings are the doorway to beginning”

  1. Thanks for writing! I have enjoyed this journey with you! Goodness, it was the one constant in a time of upheaval and all that accompanies good byes and endings as well as new chapter beginnings, Thanks again! And keep writing!!

    1. Thank you for making the journey with me! I am glad it could be a constant for you. We need those.

  2. Endings ARE hard. But thank you for always looking for the beautiful and reminding us that it’s there. Always. I love you my friend. I’m glad you’ve persevered and I’m thankful you’re here to tell your tails about how it’s changed you for the better…some days I don’t think that’s possible for myself. But you share your hope. I love that <3

    1. While I don’t know specifically what happened (and it’s probably healthier for me that I don’t), I DO know we can live and love fully but we have to make space and time to grieve and doubt and yell and throw things and feel those feelings. They matter and they have things to teach us if we make room for them. I still have hang-ups and things that anger me and areas that it’s simply best for me not to revisit, and that also is ok. Forgiving and moving forward is vastly different from restoration and remaining. Both have their place, but often not in the same circumstance. Praying for you to be able to let go and move on, but don’t rush it. And don’t beat yourself up in the process. Almost ten years later and I’m still walking through mine.

  3. I love what he said. And what you said. I feel your transition. The release of the anger. I’m doing the same. Maybe I should do 100 days! Except I just have my journal.

    1. I think it would work just as well in a journal. This was what I needed for many reasons, but most of all to keep showing up, and circling around, looking at poking and prodding and examining. It let me declare dead what is dead and let me see what still needed some life support.

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