Yesterday, while I was in Seattle for an appointment, my daughter called me asking if I could spend some time with her. At first, I hesitated; my day was packed, I was feeling maxed out, and I was eager to make the two hour drive back home as soon as I could. And yet, I felt that inner urging to say, yes, and so I did. After my appointment, Joy and I had dinner in Capitol Hill. A Vietnamese restaurant on a Friday evening in the heart of the city. Lots of gay people mixed in with others. I loved looking at the clothing, the Friday night dating scene, the colors, the earrings and hair. I loved the open air of the restaurant, the warm air, the life of the city. I loved talking with Joy. For the first time in two years or so, I felt a shifting in my spirit. I could feel that I was letting go of the anger I have felt about her being gay. I felt that I was finally able to look beyond my own feelings, seeing more clearly this beautiful young woman whom I love more than life. Maybe I could finally be present for her in her places with no agenda but to listen and love.
We talked about what to do when all our friends leave us and we are left to figure out life on our own again. Do we go on living in those dysfunctional relationships, or do we open the door and let them go? As she talked I saw a picture of someone sweeping a beautiful hardwood floor, of the doors open to the warm breeze, of white gauzy curtains gently moving in the air, of sunshine on the floor. Space made for what is next without knowing what is next. I saw room for newness, for friends who are healthy, who give of themselves in concert with being given to. All light comes from the Lord; I saw Light there in that room. It was peaceful, and though grief had lived there and hard words and angst, the peace overrode them all and filled the room again.
We talked about having brilliant minds and how we are not satisfied when that brilliance isn’t fed. Former VP Dan Quayle, in a speech to the NAACP, botched their tag line and said, “It’s a terrible thing not to have a mind.” Which always makes me laugh. It’s wrong in so many ways. And yet, I think that’s true and it’s also a terrible thing not to feed the minds we have been given. And so I encouraged Joy to feed her mind – maybe form a writers group because writing is so powerful and such an integral part of her very being. Writing fills her mind and her heart and is part of the beauty of the room with the hardwood floor. Joy will probably bring into that space a new friend or two who share her love of naming what is, what was and what is to come.
We talked about community – where the hell do we find community? Especially when we are sad, alone, and weary of communities that take and take and never give. For Joy, though no longer a Christian per se, the church has been a place of community. Is it appropriate for a lesbian, non-Christian, young woman to hang out in the Church? Yes. More than appropriate. I see in the room with the hardwood floor, room to dance with the idea of that. Room to move and listen and swirl with the deeper Love that is in the church for Joy.
I shared with Joy a bit about my thoughts on her dad remarrying. How will I care for my heart and its sacred wounds as he officially seals the deal on the deal that broke open the dysfunction of our marriage? I talked with Joy about my plan to use art to name who I am today, where I’ve come from and where I am hoping to go. My dreams and the intricate web of God in me and me in God. I suggested she do the same, find some medium that will use words to show who she is now and what she dreams of becoming.
After a large amount of Vietnamese food, Joy and I walked back to the car and I drove her to meet her girlfriend, Ang. On the way we drove by an old church with “Jazz Vespers” listed on the reader board. The old architect, brick and stone and spires, surrounded by new buildings; the ancient call to vespers with a modern twist. It seems symbolic of who we are now. The old, solid walls butting up against new forms of art – glass walls and square corners reflecting light onto the gray spires and old wood. Jazz weaving into worship, calling us to reflect on our day and sleep well with our toes tapping to the sultry sounds of saxophone and bass.
I dropped Joy off by Pike’s Market where Ang works. We hugged and said, “I love you” to each other. I drove off and headed out of the city back to my country home. I thought about how I could have said no to Joy’s invitation to spend time together. I could have pleaded the very true condition of my fatigue and need for sleep. And yet, the time we spent was sacred time. It was space in the room with the hardwood floor to gently look at life together, to think about how to be mother and daughter in a new space together. Old walls and spires next to something new and as yet not defined. Warm breezes blowing into a new space, where Vietnamese food, jazz vespers, light and something as yet unnamed weave together in peace.