Tag Archiv: belief

Love and the abyss

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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.

 

Acts of Courage

David gegen Goliath, by Gebhard Fugel. Early 19th century

David gegen Goliath, by Gebhard Fugel. Early 19th century

 

It came to me the other day that to be happy was sometimes an act of courage. The idea surprised me enough to keep me thinking about courage for days. If being happy can be a bold counter cultural statement about being loved in the face of loud messages that beg to differ, what else might courage look like?

Like my mother before me, there is nothing so comforting in a trial or helpful in a confusion, as a list. A work in progress, but here’s where I’ve come so far.

Acts of courage:

1. To be happy. (i.e. to act as one who is unmistakably beloved and secure in the love)

2. To be hopeful when logical reasons for such sentiment seem lacking. (13.5 years into mothering, no child yet gives a hoot about cleaning their rooms or taking care of possessions, theirs or others. My attempts at book publication repeatedly miss the mark. And yet.)

3. To believe that I can change and become the person I have repeatedly failed to become. (Despite my elite level skills in flippant, sarcastic, and caustic remarks, I will someday be free of those crutches.)

4. To believe that others can change and become the person they dream of becoming. (I build the boxes I put people in too small. The timing of when they rise up to overcoming is not my concern. The least I can do is leave the lids off.)

5. To believe that failure does not define people. Me, or anybody else. (Failure, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. No matter who sees it or says it, apt or not, it remains separate from our value as human beings.)

6. To believe that others are doing the best they can and to make this the underlying premise and starting point for every relationship I have. (I cannot logically believe this 100% of the time, but I cannot see what there would be to lose for acting as if it were true the 5% of the time it isn’t.)

7.  To start each day with no strings attached, a day of new beginnings devoid of the weight of yesterdays dead ends, engine troubles, and thirty car pile ups.

 

That’s as deep as I’ve dug so far. I’m going to mine the hill a little longer in case there’s something I missed that applies to now. Then again, it might be enough of a challenge already.

An Easter story

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“Extra family is coming for Easter brunch,” I announced.

“That’s great!” said Girl one. “I’ve been planning an art, fun and games day as a special surprise for Easter. I was hoping there would be more people.”

“Wow,” I said. I changed the subject.

“You guys will like your Easter surprise,” I said another day.

“You’re going to like my surprise too,” said Girl one. “Want to see the tickets I made?”

“Sure.” Sigh. Did I have to pretend something which involved art and standing up, during time I reigned over (includes all holidays), was fun?

“Art fun and games day!  money gos to poor countries,” they said.

Not for spelling lessons? I thought.

“Tickets are five cents. I’m selling art after. I’m raising money.”

“Sounds nice. But it’s ok not to raise money on Easter. You can just have fun,” I said.

“I know I don’t have, I want to. I counted and I can raise $1.30 for poor countries.”

Easter came. Brunch was eaten. Girl one gave us our tickets and announced our teams. She was either oblivious to my reticence or simply confident in her ability to overcome it. She directed my team to the craft station, which Boy two was running for her. She ran the games station. She would tell us when to switch.

At the craft station, we were given twigs, tiny dried leaves, and cedar leaves. We were shown a model that used these elements to make a mock fire with a cooking pole above it and fake meat roasting from the pole. We were to follow the example and make our own. There would be a prize.

The craft took a few minutes at best, but honestly, it was fun. Their ingenuity in creating a craft from nothing delighted me. Building a fire, and adding flames and meat was hardly stressful.

At the game station, a large lid from a plastic tub had been inverted. At each corner of the improvised game board, a player was given half of a plastic egg. Each player in turn, flicked their plastic egg at another player’s egg. If they knocked it into the hollow ring around the lid, that person was out. The last egg standing won. Girl one encouraged those who got out and complimented those who survived. It was simple and it worked. It was fun.

I thought about it a lot afterwards. Why had I been so sure she couldn’t do it? She promised me everyone would like it. Why didn’t I believe her? What if it’s not just her? What if generosity of heart means believing that all kinds of people can do things I don’t expect? Should the benefit of the doubt be free?

An Easter story because love didn’t need my belief to pursue me with its gift. An Easter story because for a moment love cracked me open, slipped past what I thought I knew, and whispered in my ear.

“Keep the door open, there’s more where that came from.”