I think that might be a line from the Rolling Stones. Been a long time since I heard it, matter of fact, even longer than the time since I last wrote here. A friend and sometimes reader wrote me privately awhile back to see where I’d been. Working on assignments for a new writing class, working on a new day care web site, I answered, but also, I realized as I thought about it, not here, just not here.

I’ve been writing this blog a long, long time, since the fall of 2008. A lot has happened in those seven years. I’ve had a lot of projects, a lot of traumatic shit’s gone down, my kids are nearly grown, whereas when I started writing here they were my whole world.

Much of this time I’ve been thinking and dreaming a lot, differently than I have for much of the rest of my life. I’ve read and reread a book that captures it better than I can, The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife. Still working on that bit, though I’d like to think I’ve made some progress.

Tonight I spent another few hours of midlife in the company of my favorite every other Wednesday night people in the Sharing Circle at Cambridge Friends Meeting, where folks who’ve been in prison and those who care about them meet for a good meal, conversation, and a sharing circle. This particular circle was lead by a man who was recently released from a very long prison term. He chose to allow us to remain in silence until one of us felt moved to speak. Much to my great pleasure, that was a long time. The longer it was silent, the deeper I felt the group going into our own quiet places, and perhaps as a result, once it began, the sharing tonight felt especially deep and moving.

One regular member shared news of a health issue which sounded quite serious and which he is choosing not to diagnose or treat. This news deepened our listening, and what followed was so moving I want to write a little about it here so I don’t forget. He talked about heaven and how he likes to think about it. He talked a long while about his belief that if the Creator made humans so beautiful, so individually unique and so amazing as a group, that same Creator must have created a heaven where each human would experience the things he or she was by nature perfectly suited to experience, but had been unable to experience and most wished for on earth, whether the joy and freedom and abandon of a child for those who did not have true childhoods or the experience of a deep love as an adult for those who were unable to experience that. The speaker talked about heaven in such a way I had to use the back of my hand and my shirt sleeve to wipe my tears and drippy nose. I can’t do justice to his words here, but they have caused me to reflect on his beliefs and my own.

It’s been a long time since I’ve believed in God or a Creator or Heaven or an Afterlife. Yet this man’s yearning to spend time in these realms, imagining how they might rightly be, caused me to question my own lack of faith. His descriptions this evening and the last time he talked about this fascination referenced beauty, the human capacity for joy, the great and wondrous diversity and complexity of the earth and all it’s inhabitants, animals and plants, his belief that the justice that is not served on earth will somehow be served in heaven. All these things make me wonder if I’ve stopped short, if I’ve missed out in not allowing my own mind to wander in these directions.

It’s not weird, he assured us as he closed his statements. It’s not like I’m thinking about aliens with three eyes. It’s human nature to think about these things. I found myself wishing he would get better, get a diagnosis and treatment, not only for his own further life, but selfishly, so I could go on listening to his thoughts as they unfold. I wondered what further revelations will pursue him as he continues to live his mainly solitary life contemplating it’s end. I felt the awe of a deep listener privileged to hear the wonderings of people who I hardly know outside of the Sharing Circle.

I wonder as I do whenever I write here about other people’s stories, and especially about stories shared in confidence, if I have a right to share this story here. I hope I do. If not, please let me know I’ve shared too much and I’ll take this post down.

For now, I’m going to try and keep writing here. I’m not sure why my heart’s not been in it. Perhaps seven years is long enough to keep on with one project. I never thought about how this blog would take shape, much beyond the initial wishes that it would help me figure out how to make a new school, which I never did and may never do. By the time I realized that I had grown so accustomed to writing here, I continued, though much less in the vein of learning how to make a school and much more about how little of life I understand, how much is a mystery, and how hard and beautiful it all can be.

For now, good night. Sweet dreams, farewell until we meet again. I do my best these days to keep up my writing habit, but it’s shifted away from free form blogging to attempts at creating content for a more professional day care web site and to working on poetry and creative nonfiction that might feel wrong to share here..At my last writing class I was encouraged to work on a series of short pieces and to think about how to work on publishing. That felt great, far off, unreal. I’ve wondered about creating something less ephemeral than this blog, haven’t known how to begin or where I’d be headed. Maybe someday soon I will. Wish me luck or suggest direction or tell me what you’d like to hear. Can’t hurt.

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