Holy Week(end)

Well, it’s Holy Week and I’m feeling about as unholy as I can be. I’m just not feeling the spirit. In fact, I’ve been questioning this whole “God-thing” lately. I want to believe. I do believe — most of the time. But I find myself wondering. I fell down the stairs a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been in a lot of physical pain since that time with my back and right foot. Nothing like pain to make a believer a little cranky.

So my God (if He’s up there) has a sense of humor. I have a daily devotional that I’ve owned since 1999, and I have a habit of writing in the margins. On March 26, 2011 (right after I had returned from Australia, Canada, and was headed to Fresno) I wrote “I see the loving hand of God in every area of my life.” Now, mind you, this was at one of the LOWEST periods of my life. I was probably writing it as an affirmation.

On March 26, 2013 (not long after the life-changing car accident when I was as sick as I’ve ever been) I wrote “Learn to enjoy the seeking, whether or not you find.”

And I think the whole deal with Holy Week (the original one) was about wondering if God was going to live up to doing what he promised. Something like that.

Those situations in 2011 and 2013 worked themselves out, and there was a blessing wrapped inside both.

Okay, God. I get it.

Again.

Indelible

eleanor brownn message

I had a dream last night. I guess it was kind of a nightmare. I was at a large speaking engagement. As I heard myself being introduced, I was overcome by the feeling that I didn’t have anything to say — or, at least, anything anyone in the audience would feel was important enough for them to listen to. I started to get sick to my stomach. Once again, I felt like I was not enough. It’s a feeling that has plagued me for most of my life. No amount of prayer, therapy, self-help books, or positive thinking has removed it. Maybe it’s just the path I get to walk. Or maybe one day it will heal. I have no way of knowing. I keep moving forward, anyway.

Which brings me to this blog, My Spiritual Sabbatical. For at least a couple of years, I’ve wanted to combine the writings here into a published book. But there’s so much I didn’t say as I wrote my way along the journey. Reading the entries is like trying to solve a puzzle with missing pieces. There were so many times my heart was breaking and I kept up a brave front — as much for myself, as for the reader. It was too raw, too painful to delve deeply into my heart and soul. So many times, I didn’t say all that could have been said, or reveal what could have been revealed. Sometimes it was out of fear of making myself too vulnerable. Sometimes, it was out of confusion; I was in the midst of the storm and didn’t know where I was going. There were so many tears and so much pain.

But I think there are those of you who read between the lines. I thank God for you.

After recently showing part of the manuscript to an editor for feedback, I now find myself torn between whether to do extensive rewriting to flesh things out, fix all of the grammatical errors, or leaving it the way it happened — messy, incomplete, confused, but real.

There is the illusion, too, that I must somehow resolve all of the grief and trauma of the last five years, answer unanswerable questions, and tie it up with a happily-ever-after ending for the reader. But that’s not how it is. I’m still in a transitional housing arrangement, still struggling with finances, my health is diminished since the car accident, I’m still suffering bouts of depression, and the road ahead is sometimes frightening and always uncertain. I can’t pretend otherwise. It hasn’t been all dreary, of course. Some incredible things have happened. Wonderful things. But that old feeling of “not enough” comes back to haunt me.

So… I’m moving forward with my production schedule! My goal to publish was Fall 2016. I think Thanksgiving Day would be a meaningful release date, since one of my biggest lessons over this journey was “Thank Him. Trust Him.” Living life always boils down to gratitude and faith.

My Spiritual Sabbatical is a story worth the telling, if only for myself.

MILE 27

Since MILE 9, whenever I feel uncertain or afraid, I think about what I achieved the time I persisted through my fatigue and my fear. MILE 9 is that certain unstoppable something inside of each of us that gives us the courage to continue against the odds.

 

It was a major turning point in my life when I completed a marathon on March 29, 1998 — that’s 26.2 miles. I almost gave up after MILE 8, but something shifted inside of me at the next signpost, and I have never been the same. I wrote a book about it ten years later called MILE 9.

I had spent my life eating junk food. I was in my late forties and more than 70 pounds overweight when I started the training, and still 40 pounds overweight on race day. It took me over nine hours to reach the finish line. I jogged a little, I walked a lot, and there was some crawling involved. Ha! But I finished.

Today was another anniversary of that day and sweet memories fill my head and heart. It was the most physically and mentally challenging thing this couch potato had ever done. The feeling of exhilaration at the end was indescribable. I did it. I didn’t quit. I finished a marathon.

Although I don’t know if I’ll do another one, life is like a marathon, isn’t it? You just keep going. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s all part of the Grand Journey.

best-way

Here’s to Life

87 years old. She walked out onstage — with a cane and an assistant, but she walked out. Wow. She had broken her back in two places and was performing anyway. She sat down in a wheelchair and sang her heart out and told her stories for almost two hours. She assured us that the wheelchair was only temporary until her back healed. After the standing ovation at the end, she sang “Imagine” without a mic. It was beautiful. Barbara Cook at the Annenberg in Beverly Hills last night. So glad I went.