Wednesday, May 27, 2009

t.s. eliot

i'm awake too late, because there are many things on my mind, and i have a hard time sleeping when that happens. one person who i love just told me recently that she hates the word 'hope.' hates what it represents, hates the idea that there might be a promise of something better that turns out not to be true, not to be reality. and i wish that i could say that everything will be okay, but i know enough to know that this is not my phrase to say, not my consolation to give. i am grateful for the Lord, even though my heart is heavy.

i said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith,
but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought;
so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

-ts eliot, east coker, four quartets

Monday, May 18, 2009

the shepherd who goes out to me

“It often seems that the more I try to disentangle myself from the darkness, the darker it becomes. I need light, but that light has to conquer my darkness, and that I cannot bring about myself. I cannot forgive myself, I cannot make myself feel loved. By myself I cannot leave the land of my own struggles, I cannot bring myself home, nor can I create communion on my own. I can desire it, hope for it, wait for it, yes, pray for it. But my true freedom I cannot make for myself. That must be given to me. I am lost. I must be found by the shepherd who goes out to me.”
—Henri Nouwen, The Prodigal Son

There are some days, more than others, when I need to remember these words for the sake of my heart. They are usually days like today, when I feel a bit anxious and am sure that God has put me in the back of his mind, like a chore that he’s meaning to do, but may not actually get around to for awhile. Days when I am so worried about finding God that I forget to remember to let him find me. And that’s what he does; God is in the business of finding lost people. Not halfheartedly, either – it is his passion. And that’s a good thing – such a good thing – because then it doesn’t matter if I forget or remember. The shepherd still goes out to me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

the hook.

i used to have this really close friend. we spent a lot of time together, and we got close with each other's families, took road trips, the things friends do. as an artist, she was always making cool things out of leftover fabric scraps and photos, and this one time she made me a small plaque, if you could call it that, out of cardboard with splotches of paint and a funny quote on it.

our friendship wavered, flagged out, reignited, and finally ended with something between a whimper and a bang. and that is okay. it is good, really, even though it's been hard for me and sad sometimes.

one of my friends wrote this book and in it, she talks about forgiveness. she uses the picture of taking someone off the hook -- and in my mind, it's always giant me picking up tiny her by the extra fabric of her sweater and removing her from a closet hook -- as a way of helping us remember what it looks like to forgive. this is what she says:

'When I'm trying to forgive someone, I picture myself physically lifting that person off a big hook, like in a cartoon. I never want to. I prefer to stew and focus my anger on them like a laser pointer, and wish them illnesses and bad skin. I hope that they will get fat and people will talk behind their backs and their toilets will overflow and their computers will crash. I work on my anger toward them like I'm working on a loose tooth with my tongue, back and forth. I work on it like I'm training for the Olympics, with tremendous dedication and force."

me too. oh my gosh, me too. i can sometimes notice myself, in the middle of a thought, wanting bad things for other people, and even picking those bad things out. this plaque that my friend made me, for instance. i still have it; it's above my computer in my bedroom where it's been for years. mostly i don't really notice it except as another decoration. but sometimes, when i look at it, there's this anger that bubbles up inside of me and i start to want justice (my version of it, at least) and people to tell me they're on my side and for her to call me and tell me that i was right and she was wrong and will i ever forgive her?

will i ever forgive her?

it is a lot of work to take someone off the hook time and time again. it is hard, and i don't much like doing it. plus, it's been going on for years now. i didn't sign up for that. i thought i'd take her down, take anyone down, one time and be done with it. how wrong i was. i have been given a good gift in my friends who listen to me and pray for me and read my page-long emails of new ideas i have that are really things they've been trying to tell me all along.

one time, awhile ago, i had the nice idea of praying for my friend every time i thought of her. and i never did it. i don't think i've prayed for her in years. but that seems like one small way to take her off the hook. it will feel weird, probably, at first, and i won't have the right words. but i can ask for those.