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At the Heart of Things... (Bonne Madone)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

...I'm a deeply-rooted soul... a fast-growing weed that sends her tap-root deep... before truth is revealed above ground.

Camping has always worked for me because I value "doing for myself." My Mom still talks about how my first sentence was "ya camah" (Ukrainian for, "by myself") as I'd determinedly push helping hands away... from everything. Camping is simply an extension... a modern expression... of how I've always lived.

I deeply value the skills I learned along-side my grandmothers, mother, dad, and uncle... I planted, grew, butchered, gathered, cleaned, sewed, sheared, carded, knitted, embroidered, built, repaired, harvested, shoveled... much of this done as young as five years old (I suspect that, inquisitive as I was, including me was the most expedient way to keep me out of trouble, LOL). If a grown-up in my world was doing it, I was, too. I was gathering eggs by the time I was 5... peeling potatoes by then, too. I was assembling farm machinery by the time I was 11 (I single-handedly assembled a seed drill when I was 14), and doing my share of harvesting bales and potatoes. By the time I was 14, I could take care of the house unassisted. I worked along-side everyone, who found ways to include me at whatever age/stage I was, and challenged me just enough to keep me both encouraged, and proud of my accomplishments.

I never saw myself as anything other than capable, no matter the circumstances... it's hard-wired into me. Every obstacle in my path (myself included) was, and remains, a problem to be solved.

(ASIDE: in this regard I rue the fact that my Divine Miss O and I don't share any genetic material. She is not similarly hard-wired. Rather, she has an innate and inexplicable helplessness that worries me... and I am often taken aback by how easily she gives up on things... despite our deliberate and conscientious efforts to empower her otherwise. She's slowly developing determination reflexes, but it seems so much harder for her.)

...And as we worked together, we prayed and praised. Everything we did was an extension of our faith in something much, much greater than ourselves. Amidst the tasks of daily living, my family also took responsibility for cleaning the Church, and maintaining the cemetery. My job was to pull weeds around the graves... I took special care around my twin brother's grave (a literal touchstone in my life), who left me 6 days after we were born. Pulling each weed, I'd ponder the roots, and rootedness... my brother and I apart, but never separate... eternity the same, either way.

I suppose you're wondering why I'm going on about this stuff, and will I ever get to the point.

Honestly, I'm not sure I have a point... except this is where my mind and heart are, at the moment: tracing my way back and forward, yet again, through my own story... in truth, what I've been doing the last six months... life around me a distraction from the whispered call I feel within me.

This past week away, the pull was heightened by my visit to a country church... one we visit every summer, and which hearkens back to when I was a girl. Lake for the weekend has always meant Mass as Bonne Madone... built in 1913, and rebuilt in 1919, after a devastating fire took the Church and the Rectory.


My heart hurts a little every time I go back and see the Rectory. A few years ago you could still walk into it and feel the presence of goodness and grace. It was SIMPLY beautiful... full of light... a little country home, butter yellow and welcoming. A decision was made to let go of it, along with the small, one-horse stable. They both now sit, stoically resigned, slowly being reclaimed by the land... ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I sincerely wish I had taken pictures years ago.

Every.single.time. I sit in this church, I am overwhelmed with a sense of grace, roots, and rootedness... the faith that inspired its building and rebuilding, the skill passed down through generations which shaped those beams and allows it to stand strong in all weather, the effort that maintains it... it's all there, as tangible yet ethereal as the prayers whispered within for nearly 100 years.

This church stands patiently awaiting our return 8 months out of the year (it's inaccessible in winter)... yet it is clean and polished... in perfect repair. It is an irrefutable testament to faith, purpose, mercy, grace, LOVE... it is maintained out of love... no one is paid to care for it... an act of rootedness, a commitment on the part of a handful of families to something bigger than self. And when the bell tolls... crisp, clear... echoing for miles across the lake... we come, and gather... to pray and praise. It calls us, and in that action of a tolling bell, we are reminded of who we are called to be... we are, each of us, a RESPONSE to a CALL.

Response implies responsibility... with responsibility simply being the ability to respond.

The homily this past weekend was all about what it means to faithfully live as a response to the world around us.

My fat-elimination adventure (a response to the call of my body in reference to the world around me) has brought my life into greater focus. As my physical lines have become more sharply defined, so too have my relationships... my attitudes... my pursuits... my dreams... my desires... my sense of purpose.

The work of 'losing weight' has delineated the particulars of my life in ways nothing else has before now.

Good relationships have become better. Dysfunctional relationships are now obvious for what they are. My character (for better, or worse) has been honed to a rapier sharpness. Like those weeds I so patiently pulled at my brother's graveside, I am being pulled (not unlike being called)... and the disentangling is messy, and painful, and even frightening... yet I have to trust I will be safely transplanted... roots, and all... or (perhaps?) transformed into flower and fruit (harvested, maybe?). Because that's the question, isn't it? Where are the roots, in flower and fruit?

At least that's the question before me... right now. I don't exactly know how to go forward in the rest of my life. It wasn't until I wasn't fat anymore (or at least now in sight of goal weight) that I came to realize the extent to which being critically and morbidly obese, and chronically ill, anesthetized me to much of the truth of my life.

...and maybe this is, in part, why only 5% of people maintain significant weight loss. Going forward is like giving birth to yourself anew. Nobody tells us that, just like your old clothes won't fit anymore, likely neither will certain aspects of your life. I have to admit that I'm making a bit of a mess of it... this rebirthing... on several fronts... at least that's how it feels. My accomplishment seems more fraught with criticisms, than accolades.

Frankly, going back would be a lot easier than is this floundering around, trying to RESPOND with authenticity and grace... and in the figuring of how roots are carried forward in flower and fruit. To go forward, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable, until you no longer are... and no one can tell you how long that will be. What I can tell you is that it will be significantly beyond the point at which your scale reads 'goal weight'.

...and I end up at Bonne Madone... or somewhere similar... bringing The Call into sharp relief... and I am renewed in my sense of purpose and authentic RESPONSE. I have to trust, even while I don't understand how, that there is a place for my roots in flower and fruit.


Did you see that coming? I sure didn't.

I guess I did have a point, after all. If you find yourself struggling in the midst of your weight loss journey, slow down. Stop even. Successful elimination of fat doesn't happen in a vacuum. Your weight loss journey isn't something you can compartmentalize within the rest of your life (as you likely do with so many other things). The more you integrate your weight loss journey and your life as one in the same, the more likely you are to succeed on all fronts once, and for all.

Still 155 lbs.... but I'm not maintaining... I'm integrating.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Integration...I'm trying it. I say something about it and get no response except when I'm on Spark. I guess that's enough. Every ounce of weight lost seems to free up some artifact that I have to deal with, toss it or keep it.
    927 days ago
    that was a good blog. we grew up in a different time. things mattered then, we were given a purpose because it needed to be done .... the young people now have no purpose.

    the church is lovely, and you have such nice memories
    928 days ago
    Your last line is perfect, "I am not maintaining, I am integrating". We are all the sum of many parts.
    930 days ago
    Ramona, great insights.

    I think I know how you feel. Losing the weight frees up a lot of the mental and spiritual energy that you used to need to cope this huge "issue" in your life.

    And once the weight is gone, you realize that there was a lot of stuff left over that you need to work out. Surprisingly, not everything is an effect of being overweight like one thought and life doesn't just snap into place like one thinks it should.

    930 days ago
  • *JENNIE*
    Loved reading this post. Your beautiful soul shines through!
    "The more you integrate your weight loss journey & your life...." - YES! Exactly that :) I know I'll repeat that to myself along my journey too :)
    930 days ago
    Terrific blog.

    Love your church.

    Sorry about the manse.

    And love your analogy too.

    I suppose that for most of us there are (or were) "secondary gains" to being obese. That extra weight served a function and when we drop the weight we have to deal with the underlying issues that made that weight comfortable. Or . . . resume the weight. Yeah. And we do NOT want to do that. Sigh.
    930 days ago
    "My accomplishment seems more fraught with criticisms, than accolades."

    My experience has been much the same. As current as today, in fact, along with eye rolling.
    930 days ago
  • BERRY4
    Thank you for sharing a life's worth of process, progress, meanderings and such with those of us on the sidelines. As stated above, your thought process shared in writing is part of "finding your way there".
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    930 days ago
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    930 days ago
    What a wonderful blog.
    930 days ago
    Ramona, you are an excellent writer, and you strike me as the kind of person who finds out what they think by writing their way there. I enjoyed it so much I subscribed to your blog, and I'm not certain but I think that might be my first subscription. I'm still figuring out all the different aspects of community life here on SP. You've had a robust life, and a thoughtful take on your journey. Thank you for sharing.
    930 days ago
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