Wed morning my Great Uncle John was found dead in a field. It sounds solemn, but the way he was found there, makes me wish, hope, pray, that he thought he was going to sleep.
After hearing the news that he had gone missing Tuesday afternoon all kinds of worry consumed me. As a man in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, I knew his wits were not about him. I remembered my late Grandfather’s battle with the disease, and how confused he could be about his surroundings.
When the search resumed Wed morning at 8 am, I wanted to help however I could, so I took off work to volunteer to search. Our team of 6 volunteers and 2 Fireman searched neighbors’ barns and hidden places until we got word that another team had found John.
When I looked around at all the folks I knew, from second and third cousins, to great aunts/uncles, to fireman and EMTs that had volunteered when my Dad was an active fireman and EMT, to my high school prom date who now serves a great organization, I felt the deep sense of community and my Mennonite roots.
For the past 5+ years I’ve struggled to find peace with religion, particularly my Mennonite heritage. I think I’ve been holding a grudge against my Mennonite upbringing and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because in adulthood, I’ve been forced to face some deep and dark questions that were not posed to me in my youth (widowhood, death, sex, other religions/beliefs, acceptance). I feel blame because I felt unable to ask some of these questions for fear of being judged. I don’t know where that fear came from. Religion, God, Authority?
The blame, though, is misplaced. There is nothing wrong with asking or raising questions, especially about religion and faith. I am seeing that now. I also find that my upbringing has helped me find a deep appreciation of community, moreso even than my appreciation of faith. I see the strong ties of being a part of a deep roots community and the way that community steps up in times of need; as they did this week, and as they did 4 years ago when Kevin was ill.
This past week also unveiled life to me again. Being outside in nature sometimes does that for me; being invigorated by the Sun and the Wind, elements that help to sustain life. I had a similar feeling a couple of years ago when I was driving past a cornfield and saw the Sun in its brilliance for the first time in the months since Kevin had died. The unveiling of grief.
Yesterday could have clouded me again, with the loss of life, of family. Instead it made me look at where I am heading in life and how I am getting there. Fretting over my disorganized life living between 2 homes; worrying about cleaning up and staying organized after the holidays; thinking about entering the publishing contest for my memoir; wishing my wedding plans would just be set so I could enjoy the present moments. I’m forgetting to live in the now and thinking too much about what “needs” to be done in the future, completely forgetting to live in the present.
It’s hard to relax, to soak in what I have now. After all I’ve been through, all I’ve been shown, you would think living in the now would come the easiest to me, but that’s the furthest from the truth. It’s sad to me that the death of my great Uncle is what causes this refocus, but sometimes that’s what it takes. I hope my restlessness can find peace just as I hope John is finding peace above at this time.
_ _ _
How do you strive to live in the now? How do you embrace what’s in your life now? How do you put off worrying about the future?