The Sun Will (Probably) Come Out…Today

Weather-wise, it’s been an amazing summer here in the Twin Cities. I definitely see the sun much more often here than I did in NE Ohio, which is important to me. I swear I suffered from SAD in all our time there. I did some research. According to NOAA, on a “RANKING OF CITIES BASED ON % ANNUAL POSSIBLE SUNSHINE IN DESCENDING ORDER FROM MOST TO LEAST AVERAGE POSSIBLE SUNSHINE,” found here, Cleveland ranks below 50% at a mere 49%, whereas the Twin Cities ranks a respectable 58% and the gold standard in my formation, the D/FW Metroplex, ranks a lovely 61%. It hasn’t been too hot this summer in the Twin Cities, though we’ve had some nice hot days, and there hasn’t been too much rain. Right now, the windows are open; it’s breezy and sunny; wind chimes can be heard; it’s lovely.

We’ve done our best to get to know our new/old home again, and are thrilled by all the Twin Cities has to offer. We’ve ridden the amazing light/commuter rail system to a Twins game.

North Star

Target Field

Twins

We’ve been to a Saints game in their beautiful new downtown St. Paul stadium during this record setting season.

CHS Field 2

CHS Field

Saints

We’ve been to the amazing MN Landsape Arboretum:

Arboretum Map

Arboretum Flowers

Arboretum Lego Butterfly

Arboretum- More Flowers

We went to the Stone Arch Bridge Festival and caught this amazing shot of downtown Mpls.:

Minneapolis- Skyline

We hung out downtown a bit including on Nicollet Mall:

Minneapolis- Downtown

We met Kirsten’s old Gordon roommate and her family and borrowed their kayak:

Kayak

We checked out the amazing new Minneapolis Central Library:

Mpls. Library Exterior

Mpls. Library 2

Mpls. Library 3

We spent time at the Minneapolis Farmers Market (though Kirsten prefers St. Paul’s for its organic/local options):

Mpls. Farmers Market Tomatoes

Mpls. Farmers Market Flowers- Wide

We spent time at the awesome Elm Creek Park for Nathan’s birthday:

Elm Creek Park

We went to a Wolves scrimmage and saw their draft picks in action:

Wolves Scrimmage

Wolves Scrimmage- the fam

We took the kids out to check out the Maple Maze:

Maple Maze

…and even caught sight of a deer or two on the trail near our house:

Deer

So we’ve done our best to get reacquainted with our new/old home and continue to be amazed by what a truly progressive community that engages in regional planning and cooperation can do.  We’re fortunate to be back here and excited about the opportunities being here will afford.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and giggles now that we’re back.

Our exit from OH was painful in ways varied and numerous. The financial pain will take a good long while to recover from. The Twin Cities are wonderful in all the ways just named above and more, including being economically healthy such that our income has gone up a fair bit; that said, we lost tens of thousands of dollars on our house in OH including unexpected thousands at the end just to barely make it to a completed sale, thousands we didn’t have in the first place. We had to exhaust every bit of retirement savings (and not for the first time) and had to borrow from amazing and wonderfully generous friends and others just to get here and get into a place (rental) of our own. It will take years to recover, and our chances of owning a home again aren’t great, at least not any time in the next year or two. This all is solidly in the domain of “first world problems,” but it still feels hard, whether it should or not.

Moreover, the events of the past year+ leading up to our return to MN are deeply painful and, when “prodded” about them as we unfortunately recently were, those wounds are still quite raw. I left my longtime education job a little while before leaving OH under quite a bit of duress and with some painful assaults on my character. I chose to leave, but then was made to do so “quietly” without a chance to frame my exit in my own way. The same thing happened as we likewise exited our former faith community there just before leaving OH altogether- the same painful character assaults (but much more so in that case), the same exit without much of a voice.

And that’s not even the half of it. Much of the rest isn’t appropriate to share in this space, but suffice it to say it’s been a tough few years. There’s a lot of work to be done just to heal and recover, to figure who we are (here) again and settle into roles and rituals that are meaningful and life-giving. Being here isn’t exactly stress free, unfortunately, what with (extended) family drama and no small bit of caregiving to do, especially for Kirsten. Still, we’re glad to be here.

The sun’s shining at least, or at least there’s a 58% chance it will.

The Revelator

So here I sit at the Dunn Brothers, where, little more than two years ago, I also sat not to write and reflect as I am now, but to prepare. Much was different then. We were visiting from OH, where we still owned our home and couldn’t imagine any reality in which we could sell it without much pain (which, it turns out, was a reality we lived through to finally do so). I weighed about fifty pounds less, and I was here at Dunn Brothers then to get ready for a video interview for a job back in OH that I was hopeful about. It would have been a promotion and would have meant a new challenge for me in the organization I had already given 5+ years to. We enjoyed getting out here to MN when we could and always were amazed at all the area continued to have to offer amidst all the ways it kept changing, but our ties to OH still felt strong and though I would loved having a coffee shop like this close to home, I couldn’t quite imagine living here.

Today, of course, I do. This coffee shop is now just a few blocks from home. Indeed, much has changed. I’ll get to writing about some of those perhaps more significant changes later, but for now, allow me to discuss what hasn’t. As we’ve learned all too well from all these cross country moves, including the ones that meant some sort of homecoming, we know very well that you “can’t go home again.” We know too that while a change of scenery can disrupt unhealthy routines and provide an opening to create new, more healthy, and more sustainable ones, whatever brokenness inside us that led to the development of those unhealthy routines will remain. Thus, it’s vital that we give every effort to making whatever change we hope to, or those old patterns will reset and retrench, perhaps with a different view outside the window. In other words, old habits die hard, and we bring our problems with us wherever we go.

Today I’m faced with an old, stubborn problem. Someone’s mad at me, for something I may or (as I recall) may not have done 20 years ago. This person is talking about it to others, but not to me, and their filter/lens is giving them cause to take offense at present actions on my part that have little or nothing to do with them. Moreover, as this person is talking about their anger at me with others, but not me, I’m left with little recourse for resolution without confronting them, which I’m told is inadvisable at this time. What, then, am I to do?

I’ve been afforded all too many opportunities throughout my adult life and especially over the past year to learn how to be “okay” with others’ (“mis-,” from my perspective)perception of me. I’ve had opportunity to receive the judgment of others, sometimes delivered angrily and with vitriol, and learn what can be from it while rejecting the impulse to internalize it and loathe myself as much, apparently, as some others do. I’ve been subjected to genuine assault on my character and challenged to respond not in kind, but with, well, character. I fear I have largely failed to do so. Is that, too, a learning experience? Have I learned anything?

Regardless, I’m left to wonder, still, at the ripe old age of 40, who I am. Am I a better-than-average student? A voracious reader? A basketball player? More recently but not of late, a runner? Relatedly, a fat guy? A miracle weight loss guy? A diet yo-yo-er? Am I someone with theological training who puts it to use from time to time? A preacher and church leader? A writer? Am I a “stand-up” guy, someone of whom someone would say, as they once did, “I’ve been watching you, and you’re all right”? Or am I someone about whom it could be said, as it once was, that, “on account of me Gentiles curse God”? Am I someone who would try to tear apart others and who could say something the effect of which was to “hurt, cut, divide and separate” people? Am I all these things and more?

Probably. So what?

Here’s the one thought I have now, which I’m holding on to with all my might: the present person who’s been holding on to anger directed at me apparently for 20 years is clearly in a place of hurt and has been living there all this time. Out of that hurt, this person is lashing out now, perhaps seeking to cause me pain. I do feel hurt myself, but as always, I have a choice. I can live in my own pain and find myself in a situation very similar to my accuser, or I can release it and try to move on. If I desire vindication, it will not come through retaliation, which will bind me to my accuser in his place of suffering. I myself have suffered enough, in my own privileged way, and so I choose to walk away, to be free. Or at least I hope to.

Through it all, I’m reminded of one of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite artists, Gillian Welch‘s Revelator, from Time (the Revelator). It begins:

Darling remember when you come to me
I’m a pretender; I’m not what I’m suppose to be
But who could know if I’m a traitor?
Time’s the revelator, the revelator

It is, indeed. I guess time will tell about me too.