Tag Archives: anniversary

Mixed Emotions

We are coming up on 2 important anniversaries.  Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of my father’s death.  I think about him every day, and miss him more than words can say.  Fortunately, when I look back on my life, I have many special memories of our time together – riding in the car on road trips or just to his farm in Maryland, dancing to big band music at the officers’ club on a ech college gradnearby military base, moving me into my college dorm, the smile on his face when I graduated, and the hug he gave me the last time I saw him.  I am grateful for those.  They usually bring a smile to my face, albeit often with tears in my eyes at the same time.

I know I am lucky to have had him in my life for 48 years.  His life was a long, successful, happy one.  He worked hard, provided well for his family, and loved me unconditionally.  I know it is selfish to want him back, but I do.  Even with the Alzheimer’s robbing him of his memory and his intelligence, I miss his gentle smile and warm eyes.  But then I remember that several of my students over the past few years have lost fathers to cancer or heart attacks or other tragic causes, and I feel terrible for feeling so sad about my dad.  At least he got to see me grow up.  He got to know me as an adult.  And I got to know him too.  My loss isn’t easy, but it isn’t as tragic as these other men who were taken from their families, their daughters, too soon.

I know I will miss Dad every day, but I don’t want to go through the rest of my life as sad as I have been.  The problem is that I don’t know how to miss him without feeling sadness too.  I think I am afraid that if I let go of the sadness, it will feel like I don’t miss him enough.  I try to focus on the fact that he would not have wanted to go on in his condition at the end.  But it is still hard to let go and move forward.

Moving forward is what the 2nd anniversary is all about – processing inSunday will be my first wedding anniversary!  I have mixed emotions about that too. Don’t get me wrong – I am beyond thrilled to have married the love of my life!  It was a long time coming.  I am just sad that it didn’t happen years before, when my dad was still able to travel and could have been there to give me a hug and to welcome Jeanne into the family as my wife.

Recently, I have become obsessed fascinated with the idea of a medium being able to channel loved ones from the “other side”.  I am beginning to believe that the spirits of those who have passed remain with us, sort of like guardian angels, hovering over and keeping tabs on what we are doing.  The one positive thing I can hang on to about my dad passing away 3 days before our wedding is, as our Best Woman put it, that was the only way Dad could be at the wedding with us.  It isn’t quite the same thing as if he had been there in body, but I do hope that he was there in spirit – and was as happy for us as we were for ourselves.

I am ready. Are you?

Today, Neshoba Church celebrated our 20th anniversary.  The actual anniversary happened in January.  Or maybe March.  It depends on what you count as the beginning.  The 1st service was held in January of 1992.  The charter, officially designating us as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America  (also known as the UUA), was signed in March of 1992.  The reason we celebrated in April this year was due to scheduling issues.  The church’s first minister, Rev. Jean Rowe, who retired to North Carolina 7 years ago, was going to be in town this weekend, officiating at a wedding for a Neshoba family, so it made sense to tie the church’s celebration to the date that was convenient for her.

Because we are in transition, and don’t have a settled minister yet, our minister emerita was asked to lead the service.  A long-time member, Anthony Culver, helped plan the details, and Rev. Jean gave a lovely sermon that helped paint a picture of Neshoba’s past while reminding us that we need to continue working on a vision for the future.  Members of the youth group helped with parts of the service, making it truly multi-generational.

Jean spoke of three charges she gave the congregation at that very first service 2 decades ago. What she told them then holds true today as well.  First, we need to remember to hold each other with “care-full” compassion.  We are a family, and as such are bonded together, for better or worse, so we need to care for each other as we learn and grow.

Secondly, we need to heed the words of hymn #311 – Let it be a dance by Ric Masten.

Let it be a dance we do.
May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times
And the bad times, too,
Let it be a dance.

Let a dancing song be heard.
Play the music say the words,
Fill the sky with sailing birds.
Let it be a dance.
Learn to follow, learn to lead,
Feel the rhythm, fill the need.
To reap the harvest, plant the seed.
And let it be a dance.

Everybody turn and spin,
Let your body learn to bend,
and, like a willow with the wind,
Let it be a dance.

A child is born, the old must die,
A time for joy, a time to cry.
Take it as it passes by.
And let it be a dance.

 Morning star comes out at night,
Without the dark there is no light.
If nothing’s wrong, then nothing’s right.
Let it be a dance.
Let the sun shine, let it rain,
Share the laughter, bare the pain,
And round and round we go again.
Let it be a dance.

Together, we should always let our church life be like a dance – joyful and full of purpose – through the good times and the bad times too.

The third charge was to allow ourselves to occasionally step back from leadership roles, trust in each other, and go along for the ride.  As the line in the hymn says, we need to “learn to follow, learn to lead, / feel the rhythm, fill the need.”  There are times when we need to step up and take on responsibility for various aspects of the church and there are other times where we need to trust in the leadership of our fellow Neshobans.  Let others be the guide while we just help paddle the boat.

Hearing about the beginning of Neshoba has renewed my commitment to this special place.  The people who started Neshoba had a dream.  They worked hard to plan and build and grow from a seed planted 20 years ago into the community we are today. On this Earth Day weekend, it seems appropriate to continue that metaphor.  The roots of the church are strong, and the body is growing.  We need to feed the soul of the church, prune her branches where necessary to remain healthy, and protect her from the storms of life that threaten to do damage.  With care, she will continue to grow strong and stable and will shelter generations to come.

20 years into our story, we are at a crossroads, getting ready to bring in a new minister.  There are exciting opportunities ahead of us. We need to continue to work hard to achieve the vision the founding members set forth.  I am ready.  Are you?