grief, self and significance

it's been a bit of a strange week. all the leavers have, well, left..., those of us who are returning in september have been hanging around, sorting out libraries and gardens and doing general tidying up.

we had a great day punting, attended various meetings, hung around, said goodbye (sometimes more than once to the same person - 'oh you're still here' type thing - i'm always up for one more hug, so that's okay with me)

it's a slightly strange grief process at the moment i suppose. i miss those who were just a 'presence', who i didn't necessarily know that well, but who made up the composition that i've been living in. i miss those who were significant to me and who won't be coming back in september, people who buffer me, love me, encourage me, make me more 'me', i only really have one person like that. i miss those who will be back in september, but whose absence right now makes me realise that their presence too is not for the long haul, even if, for a few of them, their friendship is.

but i also find myself grieving for what might have been. grieving for what i had hoped for. i am always a bit cautious about speaking about expectations. perhaps some of mine were too high. but i think that a number of them were actually just realistic. almost regardless of that, i suppose that the grief is the same. the loss is still there. i think that some of what makes it hard is the choice to give up the hope of things changing, or rather, that i will be part of that change, because i'm not sure it's desired yet. linked to the theology that speaks of the God who accommodates us within God's community, there is the sense that our presence is significant, means something, is valued. this is caught up in our humanity, the desire for the meeting of persons, the changing of the self in the presence of the 'other'.

but we can all mitigate against that presence of the 'other'. if we have fear of the 'other' we may defend ourself against any change. or there may be a fear of changing the self to a point that it isn't our self any more. and we can perpetuate this in each other, if we spend too much time in an environment that squeezes us, forming us into its own image, then, if we spot what is happening, we can become defended, and so we take this with us into our next community and become less able to accommodate the next 'other' that we meet, we are so concentrated on protecting our 'self'. i don't want to be so defended. but perhaps after all, i am not in this place 'for such a time as this'.

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