Archive for February, 2011

Subjunctive

He said “jump” and I did.  I jumped—before thought, before worry, before any hope but that when I reached the apex of my leap he would be proud.  There is a mid-air moment of desperation when I pray that he will think it high enough, graceful enough, complete enough.  It is a terrible demand that requires both inhuman strength and an inhuman grace at odds with that strength without any apologies.  Yet, within that mid-air moment, there is nothing to do but come back down.  If I grant these fears more than a moment, I will slip and come down hard, broken.  I must not.  He must be proud; he must know that every word he says nests in my heart; he must know that I have worked as hard as I could make myself.

It is insanity enough that I rebel.  I want to scream for the disconnectedness of it all.  Steamboats, recipes, sieges, debates, Christmas, actors, punch—can I be forgiven for not caring just now?  There is no sense in them that I can see, and I trust my sight.  But I cannot trust my sight, because if I do so, I will despair.  If there is no point, I should not be here.  So, what is there to do but trust and obey?  I know him, and I know he is a good man.  He is a better man than I, by far.  I know he sees each and every one of us, and in that way of his he cares deeply, but what can he do?

My mother’s hair is falling out.  It is all falling out.  I am not there.  I am a son and a brother, and I said I would always be there.  I can despair, certainly, and sometimes make time to do so late in the nights when I am all alone.  But it is foolishness, for I know that there is a reason for this.  I do not mind that I do not see this, because I have learned that it is beyond my sight.  So, I trust the Lord whose name is Jealous, because He loves me and guides me.  He places before me what should be before me, and tells me to stand because standing, rooted, through the storm is what I need.  He loves me, and knows (knowing far better than I—I cannot see beyond the hair, falling).  He will guide me ever to Him, because He is Jealous.  So I stand through the storm, jump, bow, but never break.  I trust.  He loves.

And—smaller and shallower, but still True—a less capital he demands what I do not understand, inflicts upon me what I do not deserve (‘Lies, lies—of course you do’).  But I still can trust that he loves, too.  I can trust that he knows what he is doing, that he can see me (probably better than I mean to be seen), and that he is doing what he is doing because it will build me up.  So, I suppose, I shall jump—keep jumping—and pray that he will accept my rather silly gift of loose leaves and call it good.  And I shall hope that when I land on the other side, my muscles and bones will have learned and grown.

Dear Lord, I AM, be.  Be and let that content me.  But content me with Presence, not merely hope.  And let me sleep….

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Forgetfulness

I forget why I am here. I forget why I do the things I do. I read books. I love books. If nothing else, I read. I am a student in a college. I read assignments and think things about them. Sometimes I think merely the things I am told to think about them, sometimes I think of new things to think about them. Sometimes, the assignments are read without any understanding whatsoever. I am occasionally just another one of those people who reads without imagining or interpreting anything at whom I, utterly elitist, shudder. I forget that I am not here simply to go through the mechanical motions of the student life. I read what is assigned. I learn the facts about it. I make a few comments in class so that my teachers know I am interested and thinking. I turn in papers and homework on time. Etc. I do these things; I do these things well. I am a good student. But, regardless, that is not why I am here. I have long repeated the mantra that “grades don’t matter”. Over and over, this statement was kept floating at the surface of my thoughts. And yet, somehow, it has never cemented itself in my thoughts. I believe it, certainly, but I believe it as I revel in that 4.0. (Well, for all semesters but one—thank you, Dr. Mac, and your infuriating A- that will forever elicit imprecations.) I read the Iliad and Beowulf and know things about them. I can say smart things about both. I can talk about themes and underlying assumptions. The way the Iliad portrays mortality, how Achilles and Hector contrast one another are both fully within my consciousness. This knowledge comforts me, warms me, befriends me, and consoles me. And yet, in the midst of its presence, I forget why it matters to me. The mechanical habits of school seep into my blood while the purpose behind it is pushed to the wayside. That they are important and relevant is never forgotten. Instead, I simply forget to relate them. My pursuit of learning has become so mechanized that I forget they should. I collect information, I analyze it, sort it, label it, and hide it away for future reference. Slowly, ever so slowly, I think I am dying.

When I escape from school, I read excerpts from Middlemarch, from Lewis, Tolkien, Donne, Milton, and so forth, and it hurts so that I can barely stand it. It is terrific and terrible. At the Back of the North Wind broke me. Yet, it is only these, when I am away from the routine of academic travail. This is not how it is supposed to be; this is not why I am in school. I do not care for the facts. I care for the stories that pierce like arrows and burn like frozen iron.

I give up. I cannot write at this hour, when I can barely form a thought. I will shudder at these paragraphs in the morning.

This song has been incredibly pleasant: perhaps someone will enjoy it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTL_3FLNCfk

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