Well, since I’m on here, I guess it means I survived today. Briefly, the afternoon tea was a success – people showed up, program was completed, money was raised, etc. We inflated hundreds of balloons (about half by compressor, half by lung-power – and I gotta tell you, I think the surfing has drastically improved my lung power. That, or maybe it’s a carryover from growing up at 10,000 feet in the mountains. Who knows…), decorated, set up, herded kids around, and tons more. Most of it boring but necessary for the smooth running of a “tea event.” Of course, the highlights included the PV kids on stage (actually behaving – Dora put the fear of God into them) standing at attention and not daring to crack a smile – not even when I was making faces at them – and the singing of classic 3rd Day by Rich and myself. Oh, did I mention that I woke up this morning without a voice? And by the end of the day, when it was time for us to sing, it had barely returned. Fun times.
(As an aside, I kind of miss the old days when I first started writing here. Only a few people knew about it, and they weren’t around very often. As a result, I felt freedom to say whatever I wanted – complete honesty – and if someone found out something embarrassing about me, well, it was all in good fun. However, as people found out about this [OK, I told them] I began to feel a self-consciousness-ness. After all, who knows who might show up here – co-workers, friends, supporters, strangers, potential friends, future servant team members, people that annoy me, people I annoy… And I found myself censoring myself out of a fear of what YOU would think of me. If I’m too honest and vulnerable, what will you think? Will you think less of me? Talk about me? And although I would love to say “I don’t care,” I’m not there yet. I do care, and I wish I didn’t… But I’m working on it – an exercise, if you will. Cause when I write here, I want to connect with you – be involved in a conversation of some sort, even if it is very one-sided. And connection is hard when I only allow the Ben I wish I was out, instead of the Ben that I am. So what does this mean for you, dear reader? Not that much really… It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden all doors are open for conversation, and I will bare my soul daily on the internet for all to see. It does mean I will be more open about myself and the thoughts/reflections/ponderings that fill my heart, even if they touch on distinctly personal areas. It’ll be good for me, and good for my writing [which means it will be good for you too…] and hopefully… well, let me not get ahead of myself here.)
(And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming). So today, after everything was cleaned up and put away, I came home to grab some dinner and relax a bit. I watched a couple episodes of Scrubs (season 2), a show I’d always thought I would like, but never had watched. I was right. I like it. Funny and poignant at times… anyway, it made me think about relationships.
WMF is a relational ministry. We work through relationships. We highly value community. Yet in the midst of that, at times I find myself alone. Not just alone. Lonely. Through a combination of circumstance, my personality and the way I normally interact with people, and choices I have made, loneliness is something that is never far away. If it is not at the door, I can hear it howling to the moon just over the hill-side. And sometimes, I just get tired of it.
(Aside #2 – in my paranoia, I want to be quick to point out to you that this is not the totality of my experience. But you know that. Isolation is never complete or all-encompassing [unless you find yourself stranded in Antarctica – but even then you’d have the penguins for company]. But at times it feels that way. And tonight, it’s distant. But I know the feeling will return. And I’m wanting to nail down some thoughts while the cat’s away.)
I love my co-workers and colleagues with WMF. We have become more than just friends over the past several years – it truly has become another family. But many of them are spread all over the world, and I only have regular interaction with a few here in Rio. I love our friends from the street. But to be honest, it’s really hard to develop deep relationships that involve a give and take. They tend to be much more one-way… My family is currently in only two countries (last year we were spread across four countries in two continents). My friends from college and high school are scattered all over the world. And there is a part of me that enjoys this.
In one sense, it is easier for me to have intimacy (or the semblance of it) with the cushion of distance. I can be open and share with people, have the trappings of love, but when it gets too complicated, or demanding, I can switch it off. It’s a safety mechanism that took root long ago, and has turned into something that threatens to devour my ability to love, and to receive love. I’m hesitant to write about this, because I have a tendency to replace action with words – to write about what I will do, or should do, or want to do. But maybe this a part of what life is – what growing up is – what learning to give and receive love looks like… Learning to balance responsibilities and desires, learning to choose intimacy and love over isolation and selfishness. Learning to do so in the day-to-day, even when it’s difficult. And if that’s the case, though I still have a long way to go, maybe I’m on the right track.