Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Eden, pt 2

(part one)

The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
Paradise Lost, Book 12, 646-649

Rooney Mara in Vogue; by Mert and Marcus
All the world is before us, and it is too big to face alone. Our wandering is slow; our attempts to rail against the slowness rush us heartily into vast decision, and the search for meaning. We walk hand in hand, like Milton’s fallen, but this togetherness is a cruel joke; hands must part to do the work. At the base of our very humanity, we are alone. Solitude is a natural state; enforced on a will we’ve been told is free.

The truth is, we have not moved on from the struggle of Adam. We are all standing at the edge of the world, looking for a place to rest. Though, we know by now, rest is elusive. The act of completion isn’t ours to make. Our exile from the garden was the loss of peace, so our search for resolution is never finished. There is no rest for the wicked, and, as the story goes, we are wicked. Eve and I have a lot in common, after all, and the fruit of the justified upper hand appeals to me (and has lost me), too.

There’s an irony in the story of their exile, though. Adam and Eve walked out, under the eye of Providence. Imperfection demanded separation, but God could not bear it. He told them to get out, and followed them anyway. This new creation, so newly disappointing, was not ended, but rather, sent out to flourish. They were tasked by their seed with the salvation of humanity, though they themselves had doomed it. God left them in charge of the world when they could not handle Eden.

Though Providence may guide us, Providence eludes us, too. He is always moving on, and so we must move on. From our losses, from our deaths, from the peace that comes with entitlement; we don't get to rest. We must move on.

To what? 

To work, which is the burden of our life. To life and loneliness with others. Even held hands must part, to do the work of trying.

All the world is before us. It is too big to face alone, and yet in one instant: we are and are not.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sunday's coming.

Sunday's coming; Anticipation's rest.
Sunday: wherein the very bests will be upon us,
cause our heart's rust to be made new.

I used to imagine the storm was calmed with ease;
what a smooth surface, what a nice picture. Then a whisper came.
There is no surface healing; all healing is soul deep.
Jesus doesn't hand out band-aids, does he?
That body of water was not merely made straight so he could walk,
no: from the storm which caused its thrashing, it was freed.
The water was calmed

not just on the surface, but in the deep.
In that light I thought of my life as that very same sea; how in my feeble
boat where from I cast my desperate attempts, through wind and waves,
I beg the Lord to come here, calm me, walk through my life
as though my life were sea, and storms are raging.

Sunday's coming,
and in bliss, like sun after sleep, we'll know:
past surface, down into the deep, He's healed us.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday's here.

Friday's here.

This day, so familiar by now. Death in waiting, darkness as the days gone by.
There have been smatterings of light here, and there;
and now, on yet another Friday, we wait for something more.
For true solace, fulfilled hope we've oft' been called to want before.
Anticipation yanks us from our homes, draws our eyes upward, and out,
to horizons
along our spinning bit of earth, to sun-rises
and sunsets
and belief in the end of our Fridays.

Can we dare to face this dying? What loss have we felt, what marring?
Which ache leads us, holds us to the ground? This fear, which stands us up
and sits us down, is merely

Tombs do close on Friday;
and blood drips upon the ground;
and sweat, from holy and, alike, unholy brows,
does salt our faces
parch our mouths,
and we, unquenchable, thirst.

Because it is only Friday.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It doesn't matter if you're good

animus by rudruk

I yelled at the sky this morning. Not out loud (only a little bid out loud), but internally. My heart rushed heavenward, and in a jittery, quaky voice it railed in anger. But those gates are immune to my anger. By now it's not hard for me to imagine a giant nose on heaven's door, and windowed eyes, forever looking downward, in lofted glances, down that nose, to me.

"I'm done." I said this morning. "My religion is dead." Life is a house of cards, and apparently, I firmly believe goodness is the glue that God uses to hold it all together; that if I'm good, it will mean something. I no longer believe this. Being good is nice, it is nice to be good, I would even say it is good to be good. But it doesn't mean anything. And there is no glue.

I marvel at men like Job. Oh who are we kidding - who in our taught history has been pillarized like Job? Job, the man who lost everything all the time repeatedly and still said nothing disparaging. Didn't question, didn't let his heart rush heavenward in anger, didn't say "I'm done" and give up his religion. It's an impossible standard Job, and I simply can't live up to it. You are the golden older sibling and I am the muddy, ruddy fall-behind who trophies pain so I can pick it up and look at it later. That's fine. I'm sure you don't mind; I'm just making you look better.

I heard once that if you're too dense to pick up the lesson the first time, God or the universe will teach you again, and again, and again, until you get it. I think I'm dense. Unless the lesson is: goodness, kindness, gentleness and justice mean nothing in this world's economy. I've picked that one up, by now.

In all likelihood, the second part of the lesson is this: Be good, kind, just and gentle anyway.

This is hard. I do not want to do this. I do not want to continue building to code if the bulldozers are still driving around with their eyes closed. By compulsion though, I still try. I still try even though I can see those wreckers trundling over mindlessly. I would like it to matter that I try.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I love you every day

I try to explain it, but it really doesn't work that well. How much I love you, that is. I feel like you'll never fully know. You frame my poems and you melt me with your buttery brown eyes and you say I won't know either, how much you love me. This is a good place to be, and I know this. But I still wish I could tell you.

I love you every day. It breaks my heart to know I've been an idiot, and anxious, and scared, and in the greatest irony of my life time, have, by my own faulted hand, tainted the truth. Of how much I love you, that is. Of how good you are. How unequivocally good, and kind, and truthful, and patient, and undeserved.

I can not get enough of you. Sometimes I think I'll burst open if I go there, to the depths where my love for you is rooted. But when I get down there I see it: I'm not myself anymore. I'm a new thing, wholly entwined, completely attached, totally one, one hundred percent yours. It scares me, in the way something wretched must shrink back at the sight of God. I know this love, I've seen it, in the northern lights, in sunrise, in newborn babes and forest fires. And now, even moreso, in my love for you. It's all consuming, it overtakes the heart, awakens my world.

I love you, and those three words feel very little.

Friday, February 12, 2016


from instagram

I heard someone say this a couple of days ago: "I give mercy, not justice, because it has been given to me." So often I am caught up in trying to make sure things are right! or fair! and forget, entirely, to be merciful. Yet I am often unfair, unjust, and wrong, and still demand the good things come my way; I beg forgiveness when I will not give it; I ask for grace and in turn, respond in graceless wonder. Mercy, though. Mercy grounds. It is by Grace I have been saved, and Mercy that I am not left to wander. It is Mercy which allows my plank-filled eyes to see, sorrowed heart again to breathe, broken legs to stand. Mercy has been given to me. I cannot explain it, could not justify for you how or when it lands, will not be able to describe the feeling of Mercy in my dying hands. So I will give it, and Mercy, doing what Mercy does best, will go on from here. It will meet you. In dying hours and feeble attempts, it will meet you. Accept grace, give mercy. This is living.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

it was a baby to me

I miscarried.

God, it's hard to write that out. I've been avoiding that sentence since I first had to utter it, last summer. We had just told our families the week before and felt the joy of fulfilled anticipation and then I had my first ultrasound and then, and then, the ultrasound was empty. My blood counts started dropping, and within a week of that ultrasound I was in surgery, because even though there was no baby my body wouldn't let the pregnancy go.

As it turns out, there was never any baby, not at any point. This is what they tell me. Like some excerpt from a terribly written science-fiction novel I learned that my body was pregnant, but it was pregnant with a nothing. Six weeks in the nothing stopped growing, but my body stayed pregnant. Seven weeks, eight weeks, nine weeks along. Only I wasn't along.

One of Nature's crueler jokes, as it turns out, is something called a blighted ovum (or anembryonic pregnancy). Everything goes according to plan except that whole part of the process where a baby is made. Common, I've learned. Heartbreaking, too. I am not mourning the loss of a baby, but the loss of an idea. So I got the positive tests and the spiked blood counts and the growing uterus with stuff inside it and the weight-gain and the INSATIABLE HUNGER and the bigger clothes and the announcements and the planning and appointments and no baby.

But nobody died.

Nobody died. I pierced myself on this double-edged sword for a long time, and I'm probably still on it. On the one hand, that there was no loss of life is a blessing. It's a good thing, isn't it? Nobody died. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child at any stage past conception is survivable, and had somebody died, well, that would have been much worse. My grief over the loss felt and feels like cheating, because there was, not really, a loss.

On the other hand, I lost something. As it was explained to me, the positive sign on that pregnancy test immediately changes the lens on your whole life. Now everywhere you look, you see life through the lens of having a child. When you miscarry, it's as if the lens is stolen away, and without warning or preparation, you just have to deal with the sudden change of vision. Every time you encounter a view you haven't yet looked at through this scope, you have to adjust yourself. It takes awhile. That while and that adjustment hurts.

We are well into what would have been my third trimester. And I'm still sad. By instinct and without thinking I can tell you how far along I am, or would have been. Maybe not by week, because it would be too sad to count the weeks. But, generally. Generally, and also somehow quite acutely, I know. It's there like gravity, it never leaves. I wake up and fall asleep with the knowledge that I'm not adjusting my posture and I don't have any trouble standing up and I haven't had to pee in rather a normal amount of time. I'm back into my pre-no-baby jeans and I'm working myself up to run a 10k in the spring. And I wish I wasn't.