Spiritual Autobiography on the Road: Traveling with a Spiritual Journal
1/12/2013 2:57 PM
My spiritual autobiography has taken a new turn. My dad is turning 85 and my mom is turning 80. I try to visit them more often now, because I know they don’t have very much time left. It’s a 10 hour drive to get to their home. It’s a challenge, between work and the kids, to carve out the time to take the trip. I’m afraid if I wait too long between visits that I’ll miss out on some very last chances to be with them. My parents have always been central to my spiritual story. Knowing that at some point they will no longer be a physical part of my life makes me want to cry.
The drive to New York from Michigan is long. The road reaches out in front of me with no end in sight. When I leave my home and drive towards New York, I have to prepare myself for the differences. My dad will limp a little more and my mom will remember a little bit less. While the differences are slight to those who see them regularly, they are more profound to me. I pick up where I last left off with them, but time has moved things around. My mom and dad aren’t the same. Time has aged them.
I couldn’t have written my spiritual memoir without including my parents. They are important to my story. Entries in my spiritual journal connect my past with my present. The way my parents love me without condition shapes the way I look at myself and how I feel about myself. How will my story change when they aren’t around to offer me unconditional love? I have very few places where I can go to get this kind of love already.
My dad has referred to this kind of stripping often. Phone calls include mention of the last friend listed in the obituaries. My parents once had many friends. This circle of loved ones shrinks rapidly now. Getting old is lonely for them. People have moved on and they are left behind. Maybe moving on to heaven will be good for them: a big celebration full of joy, old friends and youthfulness. Maybe it will be good for them, but I don’t see how it will be good for me. When they are gone, I become one of the people left behind and lonely. I’ll be the one who aches for the people who have gone before me.
So what happens to my spiritual autobiography when my parents are gone? I will have to write about grief, loneliness and isolation. I will have to discover that place people talk about where God becomes their father and mother. My journal will be filled with the ways I am coming to understand how in the end all that is left is God.
The drive home from New York is so sad. I have a lump in my throat the whole time. I move away from my parents and my family with no promise that things will be the same when I return. In fact, as I drive away I have to face the truth that this may have been the last time. I have to face the truth that I might not see my mom and dad again.
My dad’s 85th birthday is on Thursday. I won’t be there for the celebration. I mailed him some cookies and brownies I baked. I will call and send a gift. On Thursday it will be hard to write in my spiritual journal. I might avoid writing all together. Sometimes the truth is just too hard to explore: the truth that I am not part of the celebration. Eventually, I will face my feelings and work through my grief. I will face the twists and turns of my story. God will give me solace as I write and remember that he is always with me on the road. No matter what direction I am heading, I am always going home. My parents are just getting home a little before me. At least they will be there to embrace me when my story is done and it is my turn to arrive.
I am glad I have my journals. I am glad that I have written my spiritual autobiography. What I have written down are memories. My words are like photographs that let me look back and give me hope for the future. I am so blessed by the ways my spiritual story finds a voice through my words. I hope others will be encouraged to explore the ways a spiritual journal can give voice to their journey. Perhaps what I share through this blog will help others discover that God is with them on the road. Perhaps, as spiritual journalers, we can travel the road as friends: sharing our words and encouraging others with them. Then, no matter what twists and turns our road takes, we will find ourselves among friends.
Visit Alisa's Spiritual Autobiography on the Road art at: http://www.journeyoncanvas.com/dnn/Resources/RecentArtWork.aspx
Road Home, Age 44
Goodbye Road, Age 44