Friday, March 23, 2007

past lives

Is the Easter promise of new life really possible? Well consider this. How many lives have you already had? I counted 5 last night as I was falling asleep.

There was the child me. Living with my family, dependent, curious, happy. Then there was an adolescent me, that started when I was about 13 and lasted through my second year of college. A very different person than I had been as a child. More interior focused, more independent. During this second life dawning sexual awareness provoked me to start seeking intimate relationships outside the family. A third me was born when I finally claimed the adult identity I had been anxious about as an adolescent. I would be openly gay, and I would be an artist. I left UCLA where I had been unhappy and failing for two years and finished my college at Cal Arts. Then I worked for several years as a musician. My life changed a fourth time in response to the AIDS epidemic. I started volunteering at AIDS Project Los Angeles and that led to an administrative job on staff there. I ended my life as a musician. I found a new apartment. And I met a boyfriend. That life, that relationship, and that job, all ended when I left for seminary and started my fifth life, the life as a minister I'm still living now, with my husband who I met while I was in seminary.

These lives do seem very distinct as I look back at them. I see how one led to the next, but the separations are also clear. I was pruning one of the trees in my backyard yesterday afternoon. Up in the tree with the clippers, feeling safe on the branches and enclosed by the cool leaves, I remembered climbing trees as a child. THe memory of one paricular tree in the backyard of my childhood home returned strongly. And though the experience yesterday reminded me of the similar experience years ago, I also felt this yawning chasm betwwen that child and me today. A gulf as wide as death, but also, perhaps, as easily crossed over.

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