Sunday, November 8, 2015

October Rumspringa

We have decided that “papa” means someone.
A neighboring tribe has decided that “padre” means that same someone.
A small child growing up in that language makes a sound, calling out for the person who protects him from the dark, who is taller than the deep end of the swimming pool, who lifts him on his shoulders into the cherry blossoms of the spring tree.
A girl grows up in a different language, and calls for the person who plays tea party with her in her little pink playhouse, who lifts her up to put the angel on the Christmas tree, who tucks her in at night and sings lullabies to her about laughter. 
They are different languages, but the same person.
Different forms of speech, but the same love.

--Genna the Goldfish Solves It All: Or, Enhanced Comprehensibility

I am out of town; wandering out in the fall countryside.
And I am sitting in the fall sunshine, remembering all the different places in the world where you can experience autumn.
And it's tempting to try to claim that autumn is the best in any number of them.
Autumn is the time that I fall in love with New York, because New York in Central Park makes me feel like When Harry Met Sally; and running through Hell's Kitchen (as fast as possible) is better in sweater weather.
I feel myself getting all soft and squishy as I realize: oh wait, this place is not so bad.
But I'm also the most restless: because autumn is weak in the city. The trees don't catch on fire, and the colors don't take up the entire horizon, like they do out here, not in the city.

It seems so strange to think it's been over a year, but somehow through shared emails, spaced-out letters, and lots of prayer/participation in the Eucharist it seems we haven't been too terribly far (though geography sure suggests so).

Friendship is such a comfort.
And this is what I have discovered this past year, when my daily life is not spent constantly surrounded by my dearest friends, by the community of people that I love and cherish so deeply, who understand me better than I understand myself: that friendship from afar becomes doubly cherished.
Your friends--the dear people who have helped you understand who you are--become a retreat. They become a space of kindness and gentleness in the lonely cosmos.
Friendship has become balm in Gilead. It has become something very different than it ever was before. We are scattered all over the country, and we are separated by great distances. But the friendship still comforts, across the distances.


I have made some terribly poor choices in my life. I can't really quantify them, because terrible, poor, bad, wrong choices can sometimes hit in you in the face like a giant wave of shame, or they can just accrue quietly, like one too many white lies or selfish, snippy, snide remarks.
But making poor choices is nothing to be afraid of, I think. Because there are so many choices that you simply realize were wrong, and then you correct the course.
Perhaps this just means I have never made a Really Big Choice: like whether or not to murder someone, or to get married.

I used to be afraid of getting all those small choices wrong. But it seems that, as I get older, grace becomes more complicated and vague; less easily comprehended and certainly more tortuous, not straightforward at all. I have to learn that grace pops up in the stories as we live them, and it is difficult to look at the story and find the primary arc of action.

We live day-to-day episodes, and the dramatic thru-line seems to be cloaked right now. But perhaps that is what it means to be in formation: everything has yet to be formed, because it is still in the process forming.

One of the most destructive and shameful aspects lying is that it convinces us that the facts ought to be a certain way to be beautiful, or we must live a certain way to be good. That if the story is different from the one we imagine than the one we have invented in our minds, we have done something wrong. We try to cover up our own faults, terrified of what others will think of the story we have written. The story we think that we have gotten wrong.

But the story can be complicated and inexplicable.
It can be messy, imperfect, and disgusting.
It can include detours and pitfalls, terrible obstacles and terrors we never envisioned.
Because the story contains grace that we could never imagine when we were just born, before we had read our first fairy-tale.
The story is so much more beautiful than you or I.
The story is so much more complicated, messy, imperfect, and glorious than you or I.

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