A friend messaged me this morning to tell me she’d been fired. The news was unexpected, as it often is, and she was understandably torn up over it. My heart sunk, and I hurt for her. I wanted to reach out and embrace her, but I couldn’t. There was only text between us, and the text was insufficient. Words are not the same as touch, the same as shoulders, the same as passing the tissue across the table. Words are sometimes not enough.
About a year ago I lost my job. It was non-traditional creative work, not the kind that pays regularly or has a set schedule. But it was still a job, and it was a central focus of my life. Losing it was devastating, and profoundly disorienting.
I didn’t allow myself much space to acclimate to my new state of joblessness. There was no time. There was a mortgage which had become, overnight, too much to manage, and I had a sense that the momentum I’d worked so hard to build in my career over the previous decade would be for nothing if I didn’t figure out, immediately, what I would do next. On top of all that, the people with whom I’d worked closest, who had become my support system — professionally and personally — were gone.
So, I scrambled. I called on friends to make introductions, and I began developing new business relationships. At the same time, my husband and I made the quick and difficult decision that if we were to stay afloat we would have to move out of our home. There was no way around that. So, in the course of a month we found a realtor, cleaned out most of our things, and put the house on the market. It sold in less than two months, and we moved across town into our smaller, more-manageable, for-rent abode. It was October, and a cold air had blown in. Hardly any time had passed, but nearly everything in our world looked different.
Turnover is a word misused in conversations about business. It’s vernacular for a cold, calculated process of comings and goings; new name-tags, new punch-cards; a new face to smile at, or laugh with, or avoid. But turnover would be better used to describe what happens in the heart, in the home, in the entire universe of the person who’s experienced a great loss. We undergo, perhaps even suffer, a turnover.
Many people “turn to faith” in moments of crisis, but it occurs to me that this phrase may not sit well with many contemporary Pagans, especially those who come from more literalist Christian backgrounds. Perhaps “turn to tradition” is less loaded, but I’m not sure it means the same thing. Turning to faith is often painted as an act of one rejecting logic, or practicality, or something sensible. Faith is the problem, it would seem. But I’m not sure I see it that way. People “turn to faith” because they hurt, and they’re reaching for something to sooth the pain.
We fall down, and we get up. Sometimes it seems that this is our only choice to make: to get up. As we sort through our faiths, our beliefs, our correct terminology, our religious traditions and our community disagreements, there are people on the edges of every conversation who are simply trying to get up from whatever knocked them down last. It seems to me that if our religions aren’t equipping us with the tools to help our neighbor get herself up, or to help us lift ourselves up from whatever tragedy has beset us, then they are lacking something essential.
I wonder –
What have you turned to in moments of crisis? Faith? Tradition? Have you experienced a loss which led you to become more religious, or less so? Do you feel like Paganism, in any of its expressions, provides us with the tools to support one another in moments of pain, of suffering, of turnover? If so, how? If not, why?
Please share your story in the comment section, and feel free to engage one another in dialogue about your experiences. Then, pass this post along.