We are broken, all of us. If we do not weep this night, we have wept another night. Some tears we taste. Others carve unseen a myriad of hidden rivers, our insides quietly rearranged without our having any choice about the holes, their shape, their size.
This is what makes us so nervous about loving each other. We’re not that put together ourselves. Touching broken people reminds us about the rivers.
On the good days, we’re Swiss cheese in clothes talking cheddar. Other days (against our wishes) we go topless covered only by post it notes with arrows pointing to the holes. In a world of hurting people, our own holes ache to be filled but the when and how are confusing.
Suffering come with complicated formulas. It’s okay to be suffering only if the diameter of my pain exceeds my neighbor’s. Measurements in my favor spell relief. But carrying rulers to relegate sorrows hurts everybody.
When my neighbor’s pain exceeds my own, it stops me short. What do I even have to offer them?
How do I love into the abyss?
My neighbor’s apartment is on fire. (This is a metaphor.) I am afraid to look at the flames. They bother me. Keep me up at night. I don’t need reminding. My eyes still burn from the smoke of my own recent fire. The power is out. There is one glass of water half full on my counter. The fire department is not here. They are supposed to be here. No one knows if they’re coming. Maybe my neighbor told them not to. What if she wants her place to burn?
Share your water, love whispers.
That much water cannot stop a fire. It’s not enough even to quench her thirst, I say.
Love waits for me to see.
It isn’t about rescue. We aren’t saviours. And yet by simple things have each of us saved. The 1/4 cups of water, half the kingdoms of our fellow pilgrims offered freely where they could not possibly make the difference between life and death. And yet they have.
When all is dark, it is in the arms of these moments that we are held. There is no promise for tomorrow to grab hold of (except by wings of faith notoriously difficult to strap on properly enough to stay in place). But there are moments of brokenness into which we can declare each other beloved.
The woman who washed God’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair didn’t fix anything. The feet were going to be dirty and smelly the next day. She washed them anyway.Tomorrow’s addictions and confusions will haunt unheeding of our sacrifice. But we offer the treasure of our love and into the ground a stake is struck.
I believe, we say to each other, you will be well. Whether or not I live to see your wellness, my love is not wasted on you. I see here, now, the promise of your wholeness.
We are ill suited to save each other but to love like this, into the abyss of dusty roads and canyons, perhaps this is what we were made to do.