Most of the time, we think of grief in terms of death. But there are other forms of grief too. We grieve all kinds of losses (both good and bad). We grieve when there is a divorce, a breakup, the loss of a job, the loss of trust, the loss of physical or mental abilities. We grieve unrealized dreams. We also grieve good things, we may grieve when we get married because we are no longer single. Or we may grieve as new parents, lamenting the freedoms we once knew while celebrating the amazing miracle of new life. We may grieve during a promotion because we don't have the same relationship with colleagues. We grieve all the time--almost daily even, big and small things. (or at least we should take the time to grieve those things, otherwise they weigh on us and continue to hurt our hearts).
I'm in one of those should grieve but haven't stages. For the last 3 years I have had the privilege of working with my spiritual mentor, friend, and pastor GP as co-dean for summer camp. By privilege, I mean immeasurable and indescribable blessing. GP is an amazing pastor and he has taught me so much, and accompanied me through many difficult transitions in my life and in my ministry. He told me last year, in confidence, that he would not be returning to camp this year because he would be moving to his home conference to be closer to his mother. So, in a sense, I've had plenty of time to grieve. Only, the part where it was "in confidence" really meant I couldn't talk about it with folks. There was no last goodbye from the campers (nor from me either), there were none of those "lasts" (at least not in the marked and special sense) to help me tap my grief and gain closure over a soon-to-be deeply felt loss.
Well, in recent weeks, as the pressure has been on to get ready for camp, I have missed GP greatly. Don't get me wrong, I have a great new co-dean with amazing gifts of his own who brings a whole new dynamic to camp--something to be cherished. But, if you know much about grief, having one doesn't have much to do with not having the other. No matter how much I enjoy or learn from the new co-dean, he's not GP, and that's the loss to be mourned. But instead of allowing myself to feel deeply how much I appreciate GP, I have busied myself with all the work of preparing for camp. On occasion, I have tried talking about my frustrations with folks, but it has not been to much avail. Most have responded, yep, that's life, now move on and finish getting ready. I understand their responses and I don't fault them for it. It's only that I've wanted to grieve. I've wanted to talk about all those things I miss and all the fears I have because I won't have my mentor there (after all, when there is a senior elder/mentor/pastor it takes a bit of the pressure off...he was the default guy, now I'm the default gal and I so don't feel ready for that
burden responsibility). It's lame in a sense, since I know I can do the job. We've shared responsibilities for 3 years, I've done pretty much every aspect at one point or another. But then again, grief isn't logical. Lame or not, that's how I feel. I liked our rhythms (which did take time to develop). I liked the way we leaned on each other and were able to fill whatever gaps needed filling. I wasn't desiring such a major change.
The ironic part to me is that normally I tend to be an agent of change. I tend to be the one to shake things up--intentionally and unintentionally. Sometimes I don't even realize I'm rocking the boat, it just works out that way. So all of this feels like Karma. A new dean. New expectations. New ideas. New ways of doing things. The new things are good. I'm not knocking what's new. It's just that I had gotten comfortable. Apparently too comfortable. It's one of those lessons where when I step back I go, oh yeah, I got so comfortable that I started leaning on my own skills (and those of others I knew) that I wasn't opening myself fully for God to do God's thing. After all, when you don't need God, you don't seek God and when you don't seek God, you don't find God. Not that God isn't there, only that it's hard to find something you aren't looking for. I mean, for me, it's hard for me to find the new thing God is trying to do in me when I'm not needing to try any new things. And so I get stuck in my ways and hardly change at all, until my co-dean is reappointed out from under my comfort zone and I get a whole slew of new things....