New Beginnings

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

~Lao Tzu

So true!  Going to college. Getting my first job.  Going to the seminary to study for the priesthood. Leaving priesthood to enter a relationship.  Leaving a full time job to begin my own business.

All new beginnings.  All with endings that preceded them.  Some endings were excruciatingly painful, while others may not have been as painful.  But, none-the-less, there was some kind of pain involved.

Leaving home. Leaving studies to enter the workforce. Leaving the country to study in Belgium. Leaving a vocation I loved and was quite good at. Leaving job security for a new venture.

I wonder if in the excitement of the new beginning we dismiss or don’t take notice of that which is coming to an end?

My relationship with my family as I have known it was going to change when I left for college.

My life of studies and college would change to a 9-5 work day...and no homework!

My life in the workforce ended and I entered studies and discernment for ministry.

My life and world as a single man would become filled with another person.

My 9-5 daily work life now changes to managing my own hours and time.

A lot of external changes, but oh so many more internal changes.  My emotions/feelings. My body. My experience of the world. My experience of myself as I moved into these new beginnings.

I have found that in the process of beginning something new, attention also needs to be given to that which is ending - relationships as we know them, daily contacts, my schedule, my time, my money and resources, my feelings, and my very self.

I find that in staying with, or reflecting on my endings, I have gained much wisdom about that which is going away, as well as that which my body is feeling.  My head may say, “I’m ready! Let’s do this!” But, my body and my emotions may be saying, “Wait. We need to grieve this, feel this, take this in and really experience it.”  The painful ending is about saying goodbye to that which has been. To the ways that we have “known” others, the world, and most definitely ourselves. Sometimes we are not good at saying goodbye because it can resemble a death.  Dying to something that is going away so that something new can emerge.

Transitions in life have both endings and beginnings.  And these transitions have all kinds of emotions, from sadness to anger to joy and exhilaration!  I have been through many transitions and can attest to all of this. Never easy, but always worth it because I have grown through each of these transitions.  They have contributed to the person I am today, and I would not want to change any of it.

What kind of a transition might you be immersed in right now?  How can I help you with it?

In the end, it is always a new beginning, and it will always have so much more to it than just the sparkly new thing.  It will involve growth pangs and your entire being. After all, the new beginning is really about you anyway. 

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Letting Go....to become

These past 2 days, the readings from scripture are centered around Mary Magdalene and her visit to the tomb.  She is inconsolable, and wants to know where they have put the body of Jesus. She misses her friend, the friend she knew in the flesh.  When he visits her in his resurrected form, she doesn’t recognize him. When he calls her by name, her vision becomes clear and she says, “Rabbouni,” which means teacher.  Jesus then says to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” She was holding on to him, in his fleshy form, in the way that she knew him. She was clinging to, and pining for, his pre-death form and presence.

In this way, Jesus cannot grow.  He cannot become. He will always be what she knew him to be, in physical form.  Yet, Jesus’ death and resurrection were meant to take what was and make it even more!  He had more to give, beyond the physicality of his earthly existence!

How often do we cling to what we’ve known….about ourselves, about others, about God.  We see what we’ve always seen and nothing more. Growth stops.

And yet, we are always growing.  Always changing. Even at the cellular level, our cells shed and new ones take their place.  Our skin is in a process of constant change.

We can look in the mirror and see the same old, same old.  We can look at our partners and spouses and see the same old, same old.  We can look at our co-workers and see the same old, same old. They never change.  We never change. Or do we? Might these initial Easter days be an invitation to enter into and experience a newness of life?  Of ourselves? Of God? Of others?

Over the past week, I have had the honor of sitting with a friend and several of my co-workers.  They have shared with me their stories filled with the height and depth of emotions, and some very deep intimacy.  I’ve heard about suicide, trauma, brokenness, and shame. I’ve also heard about hope, trust, companionship, and creativity!  They remind me that I’m never really done getting to know them. They have much to tell me. They have much to teach me. I must let go of them as I have known them, and let them become who they are.  Their intimate stories show me more authenticity, integrity, brutal honesty, and new life. They show me resiliency in the face of adversity and accusation. They show me that new life is a constant in this world and that I cannot hold on to them as I have known them.  I’m deeply thankful for their confidence in me and for showing me more dimensions of the Easter resurrection.

They also hold a mirror up to me and remind me that I’m not finished yet either.  I cannot hold on to myself as I’ve always known myself. There are times when I must let go of the things that are just not me anymore, and move into the new life that awaits me.  Cells fall off. New cells grow. Old ways of knowing myself fall away. New ways of knowing who I am emerge. It’s the cycle of life, death and resurrection. I am thankful for the many Mary Magdalene moments that these people over the past few days have given me.  To become more of me. They are truly Easter moments.

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