Sunday thoughts #21: Hospice faith

Posted: April 27, 2013 in believing, sunday thoughts

by Joni Martin

My faith has been in hospice for a while. I listen to James Blunt’s “Carry You Home” over and over, and I grieve what feels like a death.

As strong as you were, tender you go. I’m watching you breathing for the last time. A song for your heart, but when it is quiet, I know what it means and I’ll carry you home…

This weekend I spent time with my best friend, Angela. She is grieving the loss of her foster kids who images-121returned to their birth family. A beautiful new beginning, a heart-rending ending. It feels close to me. It feels earth-shattering. It feels as if I can hardly catch my breath from the fear and the loss and the end. Choking tears racked her body and I held her and tears coursed down my cheeks as well.

Today, I look in the mirror and I see my shiny new red hair, a nose ring, and large uncertain eyes. The same eyes I’ve had my entire life, but hollow, too telling, I think today.

This weekend, I talked to Matt, Angela’s husband. His faith is quiet and certain. He “knows that he knows that he knows” when it comes to faith. I can’t say the same. I weep a little over this uncertainty. I envy his acceptance.

But… my faith is in hospice and I’m not sure it will survive this crucible of doubt I have put it through. It’s not that I’m sorry for the loss of acceptance; it’s more that I’m sorry for the loss of certainty.

Floundering, lost… I find myself wishing my hope would return, wishing that God is not so distant. And… if I’m honest, I grieve the loss of all the things I was once certain about: being a mother full-time, my marriage (now 7 years dead and buried), my youthful dreams of a fairytale ending, my relationships that have been lost or gone along the way…

And in a strange way, I grieve the loss of my faith-label: a cornerstone of who I once was, now just a reminder of who I am not.

In seminary last week we talked about ritual, and transitions, and “honoring the end”, and I wonder if that would change this place I am in. It’s the “in-between” space, the “waiting place”, and around me haunted eyes remind me I am not alone, but still a nagging feeling persists:

it’s just me here.

I want to make a change.

I want to quit my job, dread my hair…

I want to throw my clothes on the floor and walk barefoot in hot sand.

I want to hoop and I want to sing and I want to cry and

throw myself on the grave of everything I feel is ending

weeping uncontrollably…

then, get drunk and raise my glass and in a drunken toast whatever it is I’m leaving

(whatever is buried in that grave)

and wonder if I really ever knew it at all.

I want to smash something and punch a wall

and look at my hand as it turns purple and black and green.

images-122I want something meaningful to hold onto… and remember, or move past, or … bury? burn? … whatever I’m leaving. My body feels too tight for me, I feel like running away from everything that I am or ever have been… and instead, I persist, asking questions in my head that have no answer.

My friend’s loss (not even my own) throws me over into the official category of grief.

I email her today: “Are you ok? Have you shaved your head yet?”

And… “I envy Matt. His faith is so quiet and certain… and mine is just shards.”

She responds that the clippers are waiting… and that grief is working its way through her heart… and that she understands.

I wonder if shaving my head would make this loss more bearable too.

I met Joni right here, on line, through sharing my own story, and we quickly discovered that we have a lot in common.  Joni is a writer and explorer by nature. Born and raised in a (fundamentalist Evangelical) family in East Texas , she lived in Washington State and 1660142342690North Carolina before settling into her current location in Fort Worth, TX. She has three extraordinary children, and has been committed to her Partner, Mark, since 2007. Although she works full-time as Human Resources Director for a large employer, her passion is in building community and community activism.  She is currently enrolled in a Masters program at Bethany Theological Seminary and she helps to lead a collaborative blog and online spiritual community called hatch* that was born from four years of interviewing and writing about women and spirituality in the 21st century. 

More of her writing can be found at
  1. Susan schugars says:

    Wow … Beautifully written. I totally understand. And at 52 i can tell you that your earnest searching will take you to a special place spiritually … Absolutely beautiful writing !

  2. Joni says:

    Thank you, Susan!! I’m glad to hear I’m not alone!

  3. Torger Helgeland says:

    I thot I was confused and messed up (and still do). What in the world drives such an experience as this woman’s? I admit, I’m more critical than compassionate, but I haven’t walked in her shoes. I suspect she’s exagerrating for the sake of artful expression, for I have done the same and it’s in my nature to. All I know is her article is disturbing. Torg

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