It was an emotional week, last week.
The whole week led up to my first anniversary being married to the woman I love. My thoughts and emotions were constantly full of what her love and our year together has meant to me. This kind of love is not something I expected at this point in my life and while she has been part of me for nearly four years, I still find myself overwhelmed sometimes by it all.
My daughter has found a place to live. It’s another step in her growth and life, her own place. Watching her journey from the broken child that came to me to the woman she has become has been one of the great joys in my life. I’ll be moving her furniture, much of it from my parents’ home (they died just a few years ago), soon.
Mid-week, I got a lesson in forgiveness. A long-ruptured relationship began the path to restoration. I treasure each of my friends, maybe more than most people, and to have this one restored and rebegun has been, for me, an overwhelming surprise and joy. It left my heart and head spinning.
Saturday, we had the chance to go see Verdi’s Requiem at Bennington College. Over 200 singers from chorales in three states came together to do this. There was an orchestra. We had seats near the center, just three rows back. I love music, and I enjoy live music a lot, but this turned into something more than a good concert. I was moved to tears as the music flowed and built and washed over it. Being so close, in the perfect acoustics of Greenwald Hall, was overwhelming. Nothing got lost. Every instrument, every voice. It was like being in the middle of music itself. I found myself crying more than once.
Yesterday actually was our anniversary. After church, my love and I, and several parishioners from church drove to Rutland, where Erwin led a vow renewal ceremony.
Erwin is one of my heros. He’s 95. Until a year ago he continued to work a few days a week at Authentic Designs, making authentic reproductions of colonial lighting. He sang in my church’s choir, a perfect pitch tenor. Erwin reads a lot and I never know what he might bring up in a conversation. Anything from Ancient History to current events to medical science might show up anytime you talk to him. In his spare time he served at the local fire department and made wood canes he sold in bulk to the Vermont Country Store.
Erwin is part of the reason I ended up in my part-time ministry, showing up one day at my house, a near stranger, saying boldly, “Our church needs you.”. I didn’t leap into ministry that day, but he began the process of thought and renewed service that years later led me to pastor the small churches I now serve. He and his wife of forty years (who died last year) loved my wife and I from the very beginning.
A few months ago, Erwin took a fall at work and broke his neck. There was damage to his spinal cord and that affected his ability to walk, and the use of his hands. He’s been in hospitals and rehab for months, unable to get out, do the things he loves, and be with the church he loves.
Having Erwin do our renewal of vows, and having people from church be there was heartwarming, powerful and emotional for me. The reconnection of these people who have been a part of our lives and each other’s lives again brought tears to my eyes.
Yes, it was an emotional week. Nearly overwhelmingly so.
For some, that might be a hard thing. Even a bad thing. Even the woman I love, who knows me better than anyone, as I talked about the emotion of the week, said “I’m sorry.”.
But you see, for me, it was a week of rejoicing. A little more than a decade ago I was broken to the point that I no longer knew how to feel. And what emotions I could feel were so distorted by depression that I could not count on them.
I had not always been that way, but events, the combination of a rising depression and a divorce, had caused something in me to close down to the point where I could not feel properly. I could not even name what I was feeling outside the most basic emotions. I had put up such internal walls to protect myself from what I had come to believe I could not handle. I functioned, but without the emotional guideposts most people have. I functioned and responded more out of habit than from any properly functioning emotional system.
It’s been a long journey back. Not an easy one. Full of therapists, soul work, study, self-searching, journal writing, a touch of medication, and the grace of a lot of people as I rediscovered the ability to feel without shutting down in fear.
So an emotional week like last week? Yes, it can be a little overwhelming, but it’s also like a victory song as the emotions wash over me. If the joys and sadnesses of a week of emotion are perhaps more than most people have to deal with, just feeling is a reason to rejoice.
Don’t let anyone tell you too much emotion is madness. Too little is far worse. I’ve been there. Let the feelings roll. It’s better than living in the desert I once inhabited. Overwhelmed is, I have learned, an improvement.
Be well. Travel wisely,