After The Storm

Yesterday was another ride on my Trek Navigator bike, instead of the road bike, which is still in the shop. But that ended up being good, because the trail was almost impassible, due to storm debris. Especially on the creek portion of the trial, there was occasional thick mud and water, and even a wooden slat out of one of the bridges.

This is all the result of the big storm we had over the weekend here. Eight to ten inches of rain in many places, which tends to flood the creek-trail and make it impassible, and also tends to soil the lakeshore with tons of debris and trash…crap that probably floats 30 miles down from Frisco, and every little suburb in between.

The first few rides after a big storm are challenging, just trying to dodge the mud and the trash.

Unfortunately, it’s another bike ride today filled with a real sadness. There’s almost unbelievable news to add onto the already incomprehensible story of the murder of David Stevens, along the trail two weeks ago. The new news today is that his wife, Patti, has apparently committed suicide.

It’s just senselessness piled on senselessness, and sadness piled on sadness. There are three new crosses, planted at the place where the murder took place.

12187772_10208164800942094_703456796617769152_nFrom what I read in the press, Patti Stevens simply felt an overwhelming sense of grief of the loss of her husband. They had no children. Maybe they didn’t have other close relatives, I don’t know. But I’m sure she has friends and family. And I’m sure they are now equally devastated.

It’s always hard for me to be angry at suicidal people that you know are in such pain. Because I know that pain can certainly blind people. Pain can keep your from seeing that you do have options, that you do have a future, that there is some hope. Even if it’s dim and distant. Even if it’s far away.

So I certainly can’t judge her and certainly can’t say that I could possibly walk in the shoes of her pain.

But for all you reading, I will add as a closing thought…

Big storms like this tend to push the water high over the trail all the way around the lake. But as I got to the lake I saw something I’ve seen maybe a half dozen times before.

City crews have already come by with little front-loaders, and shoved the debris off the trail, and back into the grass. And what I saw yesterday was perhaps a dozen volunteers, with plastic bags and grabbers, picking up paper, plastic bottles, etc., beginning the process of once again cleaning up the lake.

11401579_10207098082314795_7657912356573570353_n
Debris from a similar Spring storm. All of this was cleaned in the days after I took this shot.

Such a metaphor for life, yes?

Life is going to bring you terrible and unexpected storms. Storms that pileup refuse, trash, and yes…shit that nobody wants to have to deal with.

But after storms pass, we get out and begin the process of rebuilding once again.

We do it after earthquakes and mudslides and tsumamis. We do it after floods and fires. We do it after physical illnesses. We do it after financial losses. We do it after the death of a loved one. We do it time and time and time again as human beings.

I wish that Patti Stevens could’ve found some way of holding on through this immediate and blinding pain she was no doubt feeling. Maybe it would have lessened over time. Maybe it wouldn’t have.

So, all I can do is pray a prayer that she has found some measure of peace.

And to say to all of you: When the storms come and cake you in detritus and shit, reach out. Call somebody. Call a minister like me. Call a friend. Reach out.

And even in the midst of what sometimes feels like more pain than anybody around you, know and understand that no human gets out of this life without painful times. The Buddha was right. Life is suffering. Remembering this helps us trust that the universality of suffering also points to another truth: we are never alone when we are suffering.

But life is not just suffering. Life is also filled with second, and third, and fourth acts. Storms are followed by rebuilding. New Life always comes out of death, and the hope for it is somehow built-in to our spiritual DNA. We’re wired for recovery. We just sometimes forget this. We’re just sometimes blind to it, in the midst of our pain.

So when the storms come for you, reach out and hold on. Even if life is “never the same,” life has a way of coming back, in some new way we often don’t expect, and that catches us by surprise.

After the storm, it’s built in to our spiritual DNA that we humans pick up, clean off, and find a way to new life, time after time after time.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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