With a season of so much joy stretched out before us, I find myself stuck mining for remnants of melancholy. As if we must get to the somber bottom before we deserve what’s next. I am, lately, missing the beach for the trench I have dug, watching the water seep in after every handful of sand is excavated. On hard days, I take this as a suggestion maybe of the foolishness of faith. How naive to embrace the fake fortitude of the beachhead when it all melts to water 18 inches down. What will hold us up, I want to know?
Friday night, we stood around the campfire – tucked strategically under pine boughs that dissipated the rain (rather than admitting it was raining). Maybe it is the length of time since we have hung out, or maybe it is this season in which we respectively find ourselves. Each burning down and rebuilding. Trying to decide how we long to be built and how much faith it would take to believe that this resurrection, this glorious new construction, is possible. So much is rushing out of us as if it’s finally been invited to leave – loss and anger and hopefulness and parents and parenting and the miracle of men who actually talk, to whom we can actually talk. Who are as earnest and interested as we are, who are as purposeful and honest. And the men who fall short. And us falling short. Stories and confessions and analysis tossed out like kindling, feeding the fire that dances skyward and remains in my hair and my skin in a midnight bed and nine hours of sleep later.
I tell her I can’t figure out how to talk to God again. Sometimes, ironically, I even tell God. I could really use you right now, You know? I could really use that Brennan Manning, wildly graceful, adoring, patient God. But I am angry. And all I can see is the judgment. The punitive and withholding. The disappointment. No, merely the promise of disappointment. You cannot disapprove of me now because I am not asking for your opinion.
But I miss You.
We talk about the tenants and rigors of a church camp childhood. The safety of not questioning and the glow of approval in Being a Good Christian. I tell her that I don’t trust You anymore. That I have grown to believe that telling You what I want is the surest way to find it taken from me. And so I will not make such confessions anymore. I don’t know if I have lost my faith or if I am ignoring my faith; either way, it is lonely.
Late in the night I say this: We spend a lot of time talking about the people who have hurt us. But several times this spring, I have been overwhelmed by an understanding of the people I have hurt. The years roll out and out and I don’t know if doors really close behind us, but certainly there is a ribbon or a river or a carpet. And sneaking back under it to revisit that past, to steal that belated forgiveness, may be an intolerable wrinkle. I tell her that I wish I could just launch this apology out to the world like ash or seed. Retract the blame I cast way back then to cover my guilt and declare how wrong and small I was and have it blow its way across the prairies and woods to find its intended hearts. I am not sorry I left, but I am so sorry for how I left and how I made him feel about himself and I wish I could make that retraction part of his fiber now, could stitch it into the woman who became his wife and their baby and change the scars and dents I left behind and bind them even tighter now.
It’s hard to know if such remorse is just another form of narcissism. Maybe it’s more difficult to think that there are no ripples and footprints left behind – not even by our worst behavior.
So this is how my mind wobbles and spins these days, while I remain bent over that beach hole, cursing that damned water I keep pulling in.
On the drive back south from that crowd of woods and her silent lake, I take my time. Though there is so much waiting to be packed up and pared down and decided back home. I stop to call you and tell you, really smiling somehow, that this weekend was what I needed. That I am starting to feel cleansed and fortified. Then I tell you that this felt like the longest we have ever not talked, which it isn’t nearly. I am surprised to greet you with such a greedy gasp and clutch. Maybe the angry fire and the lost lake bouncing and lapping under the dock at sunrise and the swooshing maze of pines – all that hopefulness of nature that reminds me of you now – just made your absence more conspicuous.
You tell me to trust my gut on these decisions. On where I am headed next. My mother said that earlier in the day too. And Amber, on some old logging road we followed into a thicket of sinister trees smack in the middle of a sun-shone clearing.
I am just ready to come home, I tell you.
I stop and buy coffee from a small town woman with a crest of platinum hair and a face like Marilyn Monroe. I don’t realize until I see her fingers - her tiny nail beds and chipped pale pink polish – that she is just a girl. Sixteen at most. I turn off the radio and open the sunroof. Wait for an opening in Sunday afternoon lake traffic and pull back on to the road. I drive without any sound but the bluster of air and the wake of miles falling away like choices. I line my wheels up close to the edge of where this plush black tar falls off to gravel. Watch the fence of trees rise up into the sky, washing out from blue to chalky storm front. And listen very quietly to see if I can hear You after all this time.
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- nomadsoul said: so beautifully expressed, miss.
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