I go through cycles; of being caught up in my life and experiencing the contentment it offers, and then of feeling the emptiness that exists because there are some essential things missing. I am in the grip of the latter these days.
In short I feel relationally isolated. In part this is a consequence of my vocation. There are peculiar and necessary boundaries that complicate clergy lives. Friends in my congregation cannot be friends in the fullest sense of that experience. I first knew that to be true in the theoretical sense and then fell on its sword in reality.
Quite apart from the issue of boundaries there is the paradox of the life of faith. To mediate the divine, which is what we are called to do in so many respects, the vulnerability of our own faith and journey must be somewhat transparent. That transparency opens us to wounding. Put yourself in the midst of other lives struggling with their own vulnerability and, well, shit happens. You get the brunt of human issues in all forms. It can be painful even as it is also a holy privilege.
This life can also limit friendships from forming. The public image of clergy serves to isolate. We are perceived as different and set apart. One of the reasons I love being a Pampered Chef consultant is because it has nothing to do with my professional life. It balances my experience of other people, and allows me to be "just one of the girls."
But there is something else at work here on which I cannot exactly put my finger. I suspect that the net affect of the above has caused me to withdraw and insulate myself, which makes me part of my own problem. I just don't seem to make friends, and among the friends I do have, I feel invisible. I fear I have created that. And if that is true, I want to find the means to reverse and undo what has taken place. I feel like, in most cases, I do all the seeking. I make comments on blogs and on facebook, and do not receive the same in kind. I have gone out of my way to acknowledge, appreciate and recognize others, and those efforts don't appear to matter. I try to do unto others (and yes, I could do more), but there are few who do unto me.
I am not feeling sorry for myself, but I am feeling.
The other day I got out for a walk, and enjoyed seeing the signs of spring through which we are moving in this part of the world. I love this time of year, and the metaphor of new life encourages me. If I could afford it I would go down to Publix and buy dozens of tulips. They were my grandfather's favorite flower (or at least one of them). Remembering him I feel held, safe, loved. He saw me, and his acknowledgement served as a blessing.
I think today I will go to the kennel and play with puppies. There are few things that give me as much joy as loving on them.