Tuesday, November 27, 2007

thanks and then some

As life continually propels me forward, certain situations arise to draw me back. I am revisited by sentiments I thought I’d left long ago, far behind. Bike riding, wind-swept clouds, leaves falling; I’m falling. I love it when nature takes its course and leads to innocent wonder and childlike delight. I’m disconcerted when nature takes its course and leads to wondering what happened to lead me so far from who I thought I was to be.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

This is (I think) among Thomas Merton’s most famous quotations. I assume it is because Merton’s eloquent expression of his existential and actual journey so resonates with that of most of us humans. I have as of late come to the realization that I am not where I want to be. What this means in the scheme of pursuing my vocation, I don’t know. Does God call us to one particular thing or to walking faithfully through many passing particulars? I’m inclined to think the latter is more likely and thus, though I’m not at the most satisfying point on life’s road, I am on it, and He is with me. I hope.

The day after Thanksgiving I went to a meeting. Hannah, Jennie and Amblyn went hiking. At some point Jennie split off to go take care of some things at camp. She was lost for sometime and upon her arrival related the fear of being alone in the woods, without any idea of which direction was right.

The day after the day after Thanksgiving I stayed at Jackson House. Hannah and I went hiking. We continually lost the trail and wandered, looking for places where fellow travelers had preceded us and left remnants—worn paths, colored strips wrapped about the trunks of trees—of their journey. It was fun to find our way. Sheila even helped once, when the path was too obscure for our urban eyes to recognize. She also kept dashing between our legs as we swished through piles of leaves and wobbled along precarious edges; less helpful, but a fun addition to the adventure. With the three of us together the getting loss only enhanced our enjoyment. Everything is more frightening alone. I imagine sometimes that even for the agoraphobic, the true fear is not the crowd, but the realization of inner loneliness it elicits.

Hannah has been with me for so much of my little life’s journeying. For 21 years she slept in a bed across the room from me. Even still, when I wake at night, there is a moment of sensing her presence and simultaneously being confused by its absence. When an emotional distance came between us for a time, her presence was only accentuated in my mind, a plaguing presence I couldn’t shake or push aside. In Kentucky she has been my faithful friend and weekend companion. I don’t doubt the slopes in my mood of late relate to knowing that now there will be a physical distance of indefinite measure and no mental conjuring can diminish it. Admittedly, I am over-dramatizing an inevitable human experience. As pragmatism necessarily infiltrates my life, I cling tightly to the right to constructing dramatic prose.

My depressed mood does not in anyway denigrate the appreciation I have for all that has been and is. In fact, in the past few weeks, I have enjoyed some of the sweetest days in my memory. I am so grateful. I give thanks for the time with my sister that I have had (and still will have) for all my family who set my head spinning with glorious amazement. Our earth, great heavenly gift, is a treasure beyond my ability to express and Kentucky is a worthy representative of its beauty. I love the friends I have, though I know they too are transient.

Everything is transient. In adulthood we come to realize an aching, abiding lack. We are not home. There is, I think, no such thing as home in this world. Rather than allowing that to overwhelm one with despair though, embrace the freedom this truth presents. No one place is home. Thus, everywhere we go, everyone we meet; we can share pieces of what home means. Everywhere we go, everyone we meet, we can offer and view glimpses of true family—that is the body of Christ—and true home—that is God’s presence. Everywhere we go, everyone we meet; though lack presses us on, the fullness of grace carries us through.