I’m settling into a routine here in the native village in the house on the bluff that overlooks the sea and the mountains. I was visiting with an elder friend yesterday and discovered that he had given an Indian name to my friend Scott. He calls him Firefly, because he lights here in his plane from time to time and then disappears, then reappears, then disappears and on and on. I asked him if I could have an Indian name. He shook his head disapprovingly and muttered something about how impatient I am. I’m afraid my Indian name will end up being something like……..Siamese Cat. Ugh!
But I would like to be known as She-Who-Inhabits-The-House-On-The-Bluff-That-Overlooks-The-Sea-And-The-Mountains. Too long???????
Now that I’m settled, I’ve decided to petition the tribal counsel for permission to start a Sunday School for the children. I think the counsel meets again in a couple of weeks. I can have the class right here in my home. The children will say to one another, “Are you going to the house on the bluff that overlooks the sea and the mountains to hear She-Who-Inhabits-The-House-On-The-Bluff-That-Overlooks-The-Sea-And-The-Mountains teach Bible stories?
All is well, but in my mind I continue to feel the tension between loneliness and solitude. I am extremely lonely. I admit it. It’s the bane of my existence right now, the thorn in my flesh, the fly in my ointment, the……..what other cliché can I use????? …..or how ’bout this……the wet log in my easy-burning wood stove.
I was given yet another Henri Nouwen book to read this week (thanks, Scott). I know that I am on the difficult road to conversion, as Nouwen puts it, the conversion from loneliness to solitude. “Instead of running away from our loneliness” (and grief, in my case), “and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.”
Before Greg died, this would have made very little sense to me or at best, it would have seemed irrelevant. I’m not sure everyone experiences profound loneliness in their lifetime (and I’m sure mine is mild compared to some). But something deep inside me says that this is a very good thing, that the me who emerges from all the experiences of this remaking will be a me who feels a little more formed into God’s image, more intimately acquainted with His Spirit and His ways, and more trusting.
Perhaps my new Indian name will be…..She-Who-Got-Molded…….(not to be confused with She-Who-Got-Moldy, who I think is one of my neighbors).