around the middle of your life
you understand that
it is not the destination.
Nor is it what is waiting
where the road turns next.
It is the step that you are taking now,
or maybe what has stopped you.
It is this soft light, sifting
through the leaves,
the red-winged blackbird
calling from the mountain ash.
It is the secret whispered
in this breeze…
One of the gifts of crafting worship at RUMC is choosing a poem or bit of soul song for the front of the bulletin. My hope is that the words chosen will dance well with the text for the day, creating deeper soul nestle. I also hope that sometimes those bulletin covers make it to the vaunted place of proclamation: the refrigerator of parishioner’s homes.
The poem above was written by a Duluth poet; a woman near in age to my own. It speaks so powerfully to me because I am in the midst of that mid-life assessment of all that is and it is one wild ride.
I am always looking for thought companions and guides on the way. One of the books that has reappeared in my life is “The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife” by James Hollis. It is a gentle and powerful speaking of the sometimes tectonic plate shifting and readjusting that mark this middle passage.
It is good and holy work, this being present to what is. Hollis writes that “the Middle Passage presents us with an opportunity to reexamine our lives and to ask the sometimes frightening, always liberating question: “Who am I apart from my history and the roles I have played?”…(it is) a rite of passage between the extended adolescence of first adulthood and our inevitable appointment with old age and mortality.” Eventually, through the hard work of jettisoning the societal and parental teachings that have kept us from knowing our full selves, we discover that “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Well, no easy work, that. While preaching Sunday, I reflected on the invitation that Jesus gives us to be “born again”. In some sense, the work of the Middle Passage is to allow fullness of life, rebirth, and newness of being.
We aren’t alone in our labor. We partner with the Holy; a midwife longing for the emergence of our good. If we are wise, we find partners who remind us to breathe and trust this new life and its emergence.
And please God, we remember to savor breath. This breath.
The welcome of wisdom and the song of soul.