Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Date: April 21, 2015

When hard things are good things

JJ and I have an amazing opportunity in front of us. We get to move home, close to family, where he can teach in the local schools, as he had hoped those years ago when he decided to change careers into education. We’re excited – only as the stars perfectly aligned did this become a reality. This is a good thing.

Yet, it’s a hard thing.

It’s hard to leave. My friend dropped by with chocolate – and later with cilantro – when she knew I was struggling. I have to leave thoughtful people like this! It’s totally unfair. Our beloved school is only a Troy campus. Our church family. Our small group. My yoga studio. My work.

It’s hard to pack. We’re painting, de-cluttering and staging a house to put on the market with 4 nosy young children. This isn’t just hard, it’s nearly impossible.

It’s hard to find a new home. The size of our family makes us a tad needy in the space department. The size of our income makes us a tad needy in the budget department. And now that I’ve been surrounded with these delightful people who know about beautiful things, I want all of the beautiful things. In fact, I just hung up curtains in my bedroom tonight. DO YOU KNOW HOW FINISHED A ROOM CAN FEEL WITH A SET OF CURTAINS? People, this is valuable information that needs to be shared. Buy all the curtains! Even the cheap ones from IKEA that need hemmed! Hang them on an inexpensive IKEA rod and do a happy dance at the beauty of a properly clothed window!

I digress. Back to the hard things. (Although, cutting in a straight line to hem curtains is HARD for me.)

Part of me, in my early morning festering of woe, wanted to throw in the towel. Should JJ rescind? We could just stay. We can be in a house, with a yard, right here. (WITH BEAUTIFUL CURTAINS, let’s not forget.) Perhaps we made the wrong decision. This is too hard – if it were good, it would be easy, right? Things would happen with rainbows and butterflies and the occasional unicorn. Prices would drop, water softeners would be included in the price and the next 3 months would consist of mimosas with the ladies I love most. That’s how we know when we’re doing the right, the best, the good thing. Right?

Where did we come up with such a philosophy of life? That once a decision starts to cost us something, we’re doing it wrong? If it’s hard, it’s also bad?  These are terrible guides into life. Everything in my life that is worth anything to me has come with a cost. Being married, mothering children, often even my work – they all tend to be hard. But they are good. Beautiful, even. They’re my best offerings to my world. If I took steps away every time it gets a bit challenging, I would be halfway around the world by now, drinking Italian wine and reading old books by the sea. But that’s not good, it’s just easy.

So my mantra now is good things can be hard things. They’re not mutually exclusive. The Easy Button that Staples wants to sell us only rescues us from buying printing supplies. If we start using it with the rest of life, it could end up quite boring. It’s only through engaging challenges that we find out it’s true worth.

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Final Resting Place

**This piece has been resting in my drafts for over 7 months and I’m just now able to share it. I promise I don’t think about death all the time. 

After my grandfather died, our family tended to the traditional details surrounding death, one of them being a resting place. A grave. The four brothers, along with 3 wives and a significant other, ventured to Hale cemetery .

Aunt Judy, whose first husband had died many years ago, already had a place. Uncle Charlie found his site near hers, and it was decided the whole gaggle of Wingfields would buy their final real estate in that area. Each person wondered about, some showing preference to high ground or resistance to becoming a future walkway. Each couple found a future home, some “across the street” from the other, with Grandma and Grandpa’s presence as the center of them all – if not physically, than in spirit.

It seems like a mundane, even morbid, task to consider where you want your bones to dissolve. Yet intrinsic in our souls, we consider it.

The patriarch Joseph lived in full awareness of it. Raised in his father’s land but sold into slavery as a young man, he spent most of his years in Egypt as a foreigner, robbed of the connection to his people. He lived by foreign customs, likely even took an Egyptian name as he served the house of the Pharaoh.

Joseph’s wish, one he made his brothers and their children swear to, was to join the family tomb. After he died, he remained embalmed in a coffin until Moses led the nation out of  slavery and someone remembered the oath and thought to take Joseph’s bones along for the ride. Eventually he came to rest in a tomb in the land of his father.

Why take such interest in where dead bones lie? Why would the Bible even mention this in the story of the Exodus?

One writer mentions the burial as a final act of maintaining contact with the community, even after death. Our final presence with our loved ones gives some sort of guarantee that we won’t be forgotten, that we will be included and remembered as the local history builds in years.

To be honest, I’ve given thought to this question. While living at a distance from my roots, I’ve wondered where my body would return to the earth. On the one hand, it makes sense to remain close to the community in which you live – where you raise your children, build your friendships, and share your life’s work. Yet something pulls me homeward. How could we consider anything other than finding a spot near JJ’s sister, who already rests? Why would we not be a short drive from other family markers of lives remembered?

Something in my spirit says that in choosing a site in our current county we would be removed from the larger family narrative that comes with joining together in burial.

Which begs the question: If I want to be buried there, why would I not live there? I want to be included in our family’s place on this earth. Shouldn’t I be a part of the living and not just the dying? The life, not only the death?

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

 

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