Monthly Archives: February 2009

Let Us Have a Little Silence on the Subject

Some people say this world will end with a whimper
And some say with a bang
No matter how much your theories might differ
It’s passing just the same

—Rich Mullins, Prisoner

There have been a lot of people lately saying the world as we know it is ending. That’s very sweet; I’m glad they took the time to tell me. I don’t understand why they are all so surprised, though. This is what has happened, since the beginning of times. Things rise, but things ultimately fall. Gravity will tell you that; entropy will tell you that. It was bound to happen, and it is happening. I wish they could accept that. They could handle this whole disaster so much better if they did.

Denial never helped anybody. The first thing you learn when you are about to attempt something dangerous is how to fall. If you fall the wrong way, you will surely break yourself. If you fall properly, you will be back on your feet in no time. And what is falling wrong? Trying to stop yourself from falling. Anyone who has every tried any remotely stupid stunt can tell you this. It is better to agree with the fall and fall gracefully than to fight the fall. A deliberate fall leaves you unharmed; a fall struggled against can easily cause pain, agony and death.

You don’t put out your hands to stop yourself from falling. You tuck your arms in and roll into the fall. Putting your arms out to stop you can leave you with broken arms. If you tuck and roll, you will spring back up and try again. You put out your arms when you are afraid of falling, and in doing so, harm yourself. To face the fear and roll into it spares you the very pain you feared. And yet, out of blind terror, so many people try to stop their fall. It is a very sad thing to watch.

But what is worse, and here I must rebuke a lot of the world at large, is the people who interfere with the way you mean to fall. What I mean to say is, it is all very well and good to tell me the theater is on fire. I thank you; I am glad to be warned. But now I would like to very orderly walk to the exit, and you all are running around and screaming and inciting panic and shoving and pushing and turning this all into a nightmare, and I do not thank you.

I don’t understand these people who make lofty sounding arguments out of human dignity, when it is the very first thing they throw out the window. The plane is going down, and there is nothing we can do about it? Very well, let us spend our last few moments in dignity. If you would like to comment on the water below, that’s all well and good. But let’s not spend our last few moments raving like insane people. It’s not as though the raving insanity would fix anything; in fact, if nothing else, it will most surely make the ride down much more unpleasant.

I’m not referring to people who’s job it is to report on these matters. I’m not saying we ought to all close our eyes and pretend we aren’t heading for certain doom. But I am just about ready to let loose both barrels on anyone who drags it unnecessarily into the conversation. You aren’t allowed to say, “Boy, today sure is bright. . .UNLIKE SOME POLITICIANS!!!” You aren’t allowed to say, “Boy, today sure is gloomy. . .JUST LIKE OUR FUTURE!!!” You aren’t allowed to say, “My toast is burnt! As if I wasn’t suffering enough with the economy the way it is!!!” And you aren’t allowed to play Chicken Little and hop around in circles screaming “The world is ending! The sky is falling! And it’s all someone else’s fault!” Even if it may possibly be true!

Now is the time to pull yourself together and act with dignity, grace and restraint. In the difficult times is when we must put aside our childishness, and conduct ourselves not by what we feel like doing, but by what we ought to be doing. Now is the time to take stock of what is truly helpful to the situation. . . and what is only harmful.

And again, just because it is true and that is the way you feel does not mean it is helpful to keep talking about it over and over and over again, bringing it up at every opportunity. Yes, the world may be ending. Why let that ruin a cup of hot cocoa? If you can do something about, by all means, get to it! But if not, why spend all of your time so worried and fussed about it that you can no longer enjoy the pleasant things in life?

Don’t you realize the disaster will get here soon enough without living through it in our minds 70 times over before it gets here? When it is here, we will deal with it. Until then, put a few more marshmallows in your cup. If you can’t stop it, and you can’t fix it, why are you thinking about it? If you can think of something you can do to prepare, to roll into your fall, do it. But you might as well whistle while you do; there’ll be time enough for tears later, and they aren’t needed now.

I am a hairs-breadth away from dropping a certain blog from my feed-reader. Like many people these days, she is obsessed with oncoming disaster. I don’t doubt it’s there, but my blog roll is not about making me feel glum with anxious thoughts and indignant outrages. One of the first things I do in the morning is read my blog subscriptions, and purely uninformative frothing is not only of no use to me, it puts me in a bad mood right from the start. “The world is ending and there’s nothing we can do about it!!!” is not conductive to anything productive or pleasant.

If I am reading your catalogs, I don’t want to know how bad you think the economy is, and I don’t want to be reminded. I know already, and having you remind me only spoils the time I was spending on your catalog. I came to look at your products, not listen to you moan and wail. The market is already saturated with moaning and wailing, and no one wants any more of it. We aren’t buying. Please take it away.

Everybody can talk about the strength and courage of the pioneers that formed this country, but no one wants to buck up and show a little strength and courage. Take, for example, the Ingalls in the long winter. The blizzards keep blocking the trains from getting the supplies to De Smet. The guy who was supposed to make sure they stayed clear made a few fool-hardy attempts, and than impatiently quit.

And the Ingalls, who depended on those trains for food, for their very sustenance? Used the superintendent as an example to their girls of someone who did not have enough patience nor perseverance. And dropped the subject.

They didn’t yell and scream about how they needed that train, and they didn’t moan and wail about how without that train they would starve to death. They didn’t blame, and they didn’t harp on it. On the contrary, when Laura discovered exactly how short on food they were, Ma quickly chastened her that she must never complain, and she must always be thankful, because they could always have even less to be thankful for.

Did they starve? No, they did not. It was not because they had enough food. And it was not because the trains got through. And it was not because they formed an action committee and lobbied the government about their unfair treatment at not getting food out to them. It was because someone soberly did the math, realized everyone was going to die if nothing was changed, and took a huge personal risk to attempt to set it to right: Almanzo Wilder chose to risk his very life chasing a rumor of wheat. He didn’t tell someone else to do it, and he didn’t wait for it to come to them. “Be sure you’re right, and then go ahead,” he said. He was sure the town would starve if more food was not fetched; therefore, he went. Cap Garland went with him. By the grace of God, they not only found the wheat, they also found their way back home.

The moral of that story is not that someone else ought to hurry up and play the hero for you. The moral of that story is that if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. It’s only going to make starving to death that much more unpleasant. And if you think you know something useful, don’t waste everyone else’s time talking about it; do it.

Comfort the comfortless. . .

“I’d like to volunteer with Physical Therapy, and also in one other place, just for perspective and experience,” I told the Volunteer Coordinator. “I don’t really know what I’d like it to be, so I’m open to trying anything, as long as it isn’t working with elderly people.”

I explained that with two of my grandparents in the state of “disaster waiting to happen” and one as an on-going disaster (he’s dying of Alzheimer’s), I just felt emotionally spent in the case of caring for failing elderly people. Maybe at some other point in my life it would mean I was very well equipped for caring for the elderly, but at this point in my life, I felt like it would be hitting far too close to home to be dealing with age-related failure.

Murphy’s Law being Murphy’s Law, I spent almost all of this Friday either feeding a patient with advanced dementia or sitting with an unresponsive 91 year old man.

It wasn’t deliberate, on either my part or the Volunteer Coordinator’s. We had decided to supplement my Physical Therapy with Orthopedics, as working with the hip/knee replacements at the “Joint Academy” seemed like a good complement. Basically, you get to see what the patients have to go through before they are even good enough to attend the Physical Therapy downstairs. Unfortunately, the first day I volunteered in Ortho, it was a Friday. Friday is the least busiest day at the Joint Academy half of Orthopedics, so I was mostly back in with the more long term patients (joint replacement patients are out within days).

I think I was mostly proven correct on all issues. I had a hard time not making disapproving faces with the person showing me how to feed the lady said dismissively, “She has very advanced dementia, she doesn’t know what’s going on around her.” I rankled when all the staff talked to her in baby-like sentences. I am sure she did have advanced dementia and I’m sure she was easily confused. She also had a very weak, very quiet, wavery voice, and you just about had to put your ear to her mouth to hear what she was saying. And you did have to speak slowly, so that she could understand you. She obviously had difficulty putting her sentences together, but she could communicate and they were very real thoughts, issues, struggles and confusions, and I am 100% sure she could understand how people were treating her.

So I found it very sad that the only people who seemed to be treating her as 100% human were me and a lady who I presume was her daughter, who showed up later. The staff didn’t treat her poorly; they just seemed to treat her as though she was stupid—instead of merely confused, forgetful, and frightened. She responded well to syrupy remarks of what a good job she was doing eating lunch of out of relief that they weren’t saying something was wrong or she was doing something wrong. Syrupy remarks are much more welcome than finding out once again what a scary, confusing life you are living in. But it still seemed to me that the staff didn’t have a good idea of what dementia was. A person can become crippled without becoming a lesser human. Their brains may be becoming as fragile as their bones, their memory breaking like a broken leg, but that doesn’t mean you dismiss them. It may become harder and more difficult for the person within the body to communicate with you, but that person is still there, and they can understand attitudes easier than words.

Unfortunately, the relief from watching a frail confused woman asking me “How did I get here?” was only to sit with a woman watching her father dying in the bed beside us. He had fallen and broken his hip, and I guess the strain of that and the corrective surgery was too much for his already ailing body. He appeared to be sleeping, breathing deeply (with the aid of an oxygen mask), but was entirely unresponsive and unable to wake. Most patients are accompanied by a close relative or friend, and I, coming from a very private family, recoil at the thought of intruding on such a personal time. But this lady was alone with her unresponsive father; her one sister lived on the other side of the continent, and her other sister had left on a cruise when the father appeared to be on the upswing (I believe the father fell after she left for the cruise).

I know well enough to know that time only goes more slowly when you have nothing to do but contemplate the awfulness of the situation. I had no doubt that it was a real service to sit and talk with her; but in talking we were both merely trying not to think. She was trying not to think about her dying father, and I was trying not to think how he looked so much like my grandfather (not in facial appearance, but in posture and frailty), and how my grandfather breathes with just as much of a rasp already, and how easily he could fall, and how easy it was for life to become too difficult for frail bodies.

So we talked. For hours. About Spring, and flowers, and gardens, and smoking, and families, and growth spurts, and we tried to ignore the sound of the oxygen machine. I felt bad to leave, but it seems they were getting ready to move him to Hospice, and it was time for me to go home. So I left.

And then I almost had an emotional break-down in the volunteer coordinator’s office.

I have come to realize that’s the way I work. I ignore, ignore, ignore and ignore, until something “triggers” me, and then there’s no avoiding it. Grandpa has pretty much plateaued, and I have simply become accustomed to the “new reality” of how Grandpa is, ignoring the thick clouds of doom and foreboding that try to overshadow and suffocate. But it is altogether impossible to avoid drawing the line from the frail body in the bed, wasted away and sucking oxygen, unresponsive and quiet—-to another body, my grandfather’s, just a few days previous. He fell asleep on the couch, using my leg as a pillow, his body scant more than skin and bones, exhausted from the effort of staying alive one more day. I had stroked his hair and his face, and listened to his deep breathing, rasping a little from years of smoking. He was curled up like some poor sad thing you had to protect, but he was only sleeping. Sleeping deeply would mean that the next day he would be more able to communicate, more able to eat, more able to live. But he is right on the edge; I cannot imagine it will take much to push him over to the point where it is no longer deep sleep that strengthens but unresponsive sleep from which he does not have the strength to rise.

And I recoil from that reminder. Oh, my heart does go out to the lady, and if they are still in Hospice when I get to the hospital next Wednesday, I will certainly stop in. But when you are working in PT, there is hope. People heal. People get better. People stop hurting. You can encourage people that things will get better. But it’s a hollow, empty lie once you get past a certain point. One of the staff came in, I think it was a kitchen person, and told they lady “You’ll see, he’ll wake up just like that, he’ll bounce right back.” I couldn’t say that. There are always miracles, you can’t say never. But I can see the frailty of his body, I know it has been through great amounts of damage. It is wearing out; it is used up. Death happens. You cannot deny it, you can’t say “It’s okay.” It’s not okay. You can’t say “It will get better.” It’s going down, it’s failing, there will be no rebound. There will be loss.

I know there is no avoiding this, in any life. And I know that it was far more comforting for that lady to not have to sit alone. But my mind flees being a spectator of this. It recoils away from watching grief and pain, turns away from any reminder of what inevitably will come. Isn’t it enough to deal with the hardship of your own life without having to drink in the loss and pain from others’ lives as well? I cannot do this.

I know that I can’t, yet I know that if He wants me to, He will make me able. Isn’t drinking in someone else’s pain so that there is less for them what bearing someone else’s burdens is about? Helping others is never an easy, light thing. You always have to sacrifice something of yours to help someone out. It may just be your time you have to give away, time you could have spent doing something else. But sometimes it is your safety—the safety of not feeling pain or loss or grief. To stop wrapping yourself up in the safe little cocoon of your own world, where if it is not happening to you than it cannot hurt you.

I didn’t want to go sit down next to the foreshadowing of my grandfather’s dying for several hours. But I didn’t want to leave her there alone in the present reality of her father’s dying. I couldn’t take away the reality of impending death, but I could take away the alone. I could take away the “nothing to do but sit and watch and wait for his last breath.” But to stay was to cause my own pain, only adding to pain I would inevitably have down the road. I could have avoided it. I could have spared myself. I wanted to avoid it, I tried to spare myself. But I was compelled to go in, to take some of the misery off her shoulders and put it on mine.

Now starts the bargaining. “Okay, so just this one time. I’ll be with this one lady this time, but next week I’m going in on Joint Academy’s busiest day. I will be far too busy to go back and sit with any dying people. Do you got that? Just this one time!” My empty defiance of God mocks me; instead of feeling confident I won’t have to do that again, I dread my next trip to Orthopedics, because I don’t want to see another confused dementia patient, I don’t want to sit with dying people. I see enough of that on Mondays, and I’m not looking for more. In reality, there probably won’t be a dementia patient there next time, and the dying people are usually very quickly moved to Hospice. But Friday made clear it wasn’t my choice to chose, and that He never promised me it wasn’t going to hurt. I want to chose the safe, happy places, where everyone gets better and nothing goes wrong. He put me in an awkward, uncomfortable, painful place, where I probably did more good than I ever did on a PT day. And I don’t really want to go back to it. I’d like to say that I do, that I would gladly give up my own safety and comfort in return for giving some to someone else. But I’m a selfish human being, and all I really want to say is, “Scary, runaway, runaway!” and not look back.

Well, as much as any person can say it, I am going back to Orthopedics next Wednesday. And it will be the busiest time for Joint Academy, but that hardly rules out dementia or dying people. In fact, even my safe-haven of PT doesn’t rule out either of those things. God grant me the grace.

Tangible is Different than Truth

My love is not my own.
It all belongs to You;
And after all You’ve done, the least that I can do
Is live my life in every part
Only to please my Fathers heart.

—From Rachael Lampa, “My Father’s Heart”

Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.”

—Luke 17:9-10

One of the most commonly reoccurring things I have struggled with is “What am I supposed to be doing?” Oh, it’s all very well to read things like:

” He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

But really. That’s a very nice idea, but practically speaking, what am I supposed to be accomplishing? You know, you get up in the morning—and then what? Eat breakfast, right? And then what? What are you supposed to do?

What I usually wind up doing is deciding what I’m going to do. And then telling God whatever it is I’ve decided, and asking Him to make me successful. And maybe tell Him how I just can’t do this by myself. And not accomplishing it. And then feeling bad, by the time I go to bed, because I didn’t accomplishing anything for God—He gave me this time and this life and this day, and what do I have to show for it? Nothing! I wasted everything He’s given me. How shameful.

As my thoughts have progressed a little further, I see that part of the problem is that I want to do something for God.

No, really. I know that doesn’t sound like a problem, but think about. What can I possibly have or do that God needs? What could I possibly do to impress Him or make Him think “My gosh, I don’t know what I’d do without her”? Our righteousness is like filthy rags. We’re like little children bringing worthless bits of trash, so sure they will be useful and treasured to the one we’re bringing them to—surely you’ve had some child bring you something “special”? And who has the heart to tell them that their efforts are wasted, because they’re bringing nothing more than useless garbage?

This makes me think of the widow who put in two mites. Nobody is too good at what that converts to (especially at current inflation), but everyone is united in agreeing that it was basically a worthless monetary contribution. You can’t do anything with just two mites. You would think that someone should gently break it too her that God doesn’t have any use for two mites, but instead Jesus is greatly touched by her act. All that she had—her entire livelihood!

All we have are a few mites. We want to accomplish great things “for God”, but those “things” are still worthless to Him. What matters is that it is our entire livelihood. We aren’t living our lives to be “profitable” to Him, to accomplish something for Him that He otherwise couldn’t do. Rather, because of what He has accomplished, we live.

What does it mean, practically speaking, that it is not about my accomplishments, but His; not about my impressiveness, but His? It means it doesn’t depend on me, it doesn’t matter what I “accomplish”. God is more pleased by me climbing into bed and saying “By the grace of God, I made it through this day alive,” than He is by me climbing into bed and smugly listing to myself all the things that “I accomplished today”. (For God, of course. Naturally.)

I say I want to take the life that He has given me and turn it into something—useful, wonderful, pleasing—for Him. In reality, I cannot do that, and He’s already got it covered. It turns my dilemma of “what shall I do” into a joke.

This doesn’t mean that I sit around on my bum all day; it just means that everything I do is supposed to be a reaction to what He has already done. I think of it sort of like the game “Rush Hour”. You’ve probably heard of it, since nearly everyone has. You have this square board, and all these little vehicles. You have to set up the vehicles in the prescribed snarl of traffic (the set-ups get progressively harder as the game goes on). Then you have to get the little red car free of the mess by sliding the other vehicles out of the way.

We’re the little red car. We see a whole lot of snarls in the way to where we’re supposed to be, and we think we have to get around them or through them or get them to move or something. But that’s not the job of the little red car. The person who is controlling the board moves all the other vehicles. All the little red car has to do is move forward into the now-vacated spaces. That’s all. Sometimes it goes slowly, one space at a time; other times the whole route suddenly opens up, but it doesn’t depend on the little red car to get a clear path. Someone else is making the path. By the time it’s time for the little red car to move, the space is perfectly, utterly clear. It is not by the effort of the little red car that it can get free.

What this means is peace. It doesn’t depend on you. God makes the way; you merely follow.

To draw rather bluntly on my experience: I came to the conclusion I should apply at a local community college. I am about 5 years out of high school, home-schooled, no Regents. The program I wanted to get into required good Regents scores in three subject. Mom was pretty sure there was an age limit on take the Regents and I was over it. Red tape, paperwork, stress stress stress. Right? Except not.

Because in one of those moments where the water stops moving long enough to show a clear picture, I saw that it didn’t matter. If it was God’s will, as He seemed to be indicating to me, that I go, nothing and no one could stop me. He who conquered the grave isn’t going to be fazed by a load of bureaucratic red tape. So I didn’t have to worry.

I did have to do some things. I still had to fill out the application, and cough up a transcript, and write synopsis of the courses I needed good grades in. But I didn’t have to worry if the transcript was “good enough” for the college to let me in. When the college sent me a form letter telling me there was a lot of other stuff I needed to send it, I didn’t need to freak out. God would make away, or else not. I did still have to call the college, which clarified the situation (I did not, in fact, have to send anything else in).

The point is, the lives we live are not to accomplish something for God. He has already accomplished everything that needs accomplishing. We are supposed to live our lives in worship of Him and everything He has accomplished. It doesn’t matter so much what we do, as much as how and why we do it.

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

For perhaps the first time, I feel like I am beginning to understand what is meant by “Be still, and know that I am God.” I need not attempt to “accomplish for God”, because He is God, and has accomplished. I am here to witness as His accomplishments continue to unfold, and to testify of it. To praise Him for it. And perhaps in some small way, to participate in what He is doing.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19

There is peace in recognising that it is not a matter of accomplishing something or making my life “good enough for God”, but rather rejoicing in what God is doing, which is good. To say that I have glimpsed this is not to say I think I shall spend the rest of my life in blissful peace, without out even the slightest hint of stress. I cannot think that, for I join Jesus in marveling:

Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.”

Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick. –Luke 7:1-10

Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. –Mark 6:5-9

I marvel at the Centurion. I’d have not only wanted Jesus to come, but to explain exactly what was wrong, and exactly how He was going to fix it. I’d have put the servant through vigorous testing, to make sure he’d really been healed, just in case. I mean, if the healer messed up on something, I’d like to point it out before he left. And even if it looks like God’s been willing to heal something totally, I like to keep half an eye on it, you know, just in case it comes back when He’s not look or something.

I half joke, but half not, which is to say, I’d like to pretend I wouldn’t do those things, but deep in my heart I do. I’d like to say to Him, “Just give the word, and it’s good enough for me,” but even as I said it, my heart would convict me of lying. I don’t have that kind of faith. I lay awake struggling, because even though He said something, I don’t see it happening. And I know I’m supposed to believe, but I don’t, and I know I will be ashamed when He is (once again) shown true, but I still can’t lie still and go to sleep.

So I join Him in marveling at my unbelief. He marveled at the peoples’ unbelief, and then He turned around and told His disciples to go out without out any kind of preparation or being able to see how they would be provided for. I don’t know if they balked, but I sure would have.

You should read the account of the Exodus—God works huge and might miracles on a grand scale. The day after that, the people He rescued wants to know why He hates them and won’t take care of them. Repeatedly this happens, and it happens in my life, too. He shows Himself to be faithful, time after time. The day after, I forget about. How can you not marvel? The sun rises every morning, and I am sure it will rise tomorrow. He is faithful, day after day, and nearly every morning I wake up doubting—or at the very least, wondering—if He will still be faithful today.

So now, at this point in my life, I am beginning to understand what it means to rest in Him and His will, to understand what it means to live my life as an expression of worship to Him. But I expect it will be something I will struggle with throughout my life. Complaining that there isn’t enough time to do everything, forgetting there is perfectly exactly enough time to do everything He planned on doing. Complaining because everything went wrong, when all I really mean is it didn’t go how I thought it ought. Complaining because I can’t or didn’t or won’t be able to. Because I have accomplished nothing, or having nothing to show for what I have labored at.

But sometimes I realize that it is not a life of effort, it is a life of rejoicing. It is not a life of accomplishing things for God, but of watching His accomplishments. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. Too easily we forget the thing we are supposed to be doing is “love the Lord”—somehow we get confused, and think if we haven’t “accomplished” something, we must not being living with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. If you don’t accomplish anything, how can you possibly be engaging all your heart, soul, strength and mind? Because our heart, soul, strength and mind is not to be focused on accomplishing, but on loving the Lord our God.

And so sometimes I catch myself singing:

My love is not my own
It all belongs to You. . .
And after all You’ve done,
the least that I can do
Is to live my life in every part,
Only to please my Father’s heart. . .

Blather, version 1.0

The moon is just rising now, over the back edge of our woods. Somehow it never looks so large as when it is close to the horizen. Somtimes the moon looks quite pale and silvery and intense; this evening it glows warmly, tinged with gold. I have always found the presence of the moon to be comforting, and I’m not sure why. I cannot say I have a particular fear of the dark, or a desire to be outside at night when the temperatures plunge to quite impolite depths. It’s just that when I see a huge, fat round moon rising serenly from behind the hill, all seems right with the world. It is wordless and undescribable, but settling and comforting. I welcome it, any time of the year.

***

I wonder about sore throats. Why is that some of them are so clearly related to draining mucous and others not? Why do some burn, and some itch? Why do some hurt only when you swallow, and others only when you speak? Some feel as though your throat is becoming swollen and inflamed; others feel as though your throat has been sanded, or torn open. Some seem to be comforted by a hard rock of syrup in your mouth, and some seem to have no cure.

The one I have been gifted with currently is the sanded/torn sort, that hurts when you speak, itches somewhat, and seems for the most part to be unresponsive to soothing sorts of things. It is accompanied by itchy inner ears, and swollen glands from the ear to underjaw. I have no congestion, but occasionally a mild cough.

I am resigned to having it; I’m not demanding a cure. But I want to know why. I want to understand what is going on, and what makes one differ from the other.

Also, I would like to know who gave it to me, but that’s more of a vindictive thing than a science thing. . .not that I’d ever really hold it against someone (of course!).

***

I have a good wool coat—100% cashmere, actually—in the back of my closet, and I’m trying to convince myself to use it. It’s just such a good coat, how can I possibly carelessly wear it in normal life? It sounds like good logic, but is it? If I leave it the back of my closet, will it ever be worn? I don’t exactly have the need for a “good” coat. And what is the use of a useless coat? Which is more profitable and practical—to use a perfectly warm, perfectly fitting, in excellent condition coat throughout my daily-life that includes single digit numbers? Or to keep the coat safe for more appropriate occasions? (I mean, isn’t there a law against wearing beat up sneakers and cashmere coats at the same time? Aren’t you dis-allowed?)

But what it comes down to is—do I preserve the coat, or do I use the coat to preserve me? Was the coat created to itself be coddled, or was the coat created to coddle a living being?

The utilitarian in me says of course the coat was created to be worn, so of course I should be wearing the coat. The cheap part of me says that something so obviously expensive (never mind that I didn’t pay for it and don’t know where I got it from) ought to be kept in good condition for as long as possible.

I feel a little silly wearing such a high quality coat. It is distinct from every other garment I wear. It almost seems pretensious, a fancy jeweld collar on a mutt. Not that the coat is flamboyant; it’s black and conservative and long, and, in my exceedingly humble opinion, could be construed as flattering to me. But when I pulled it out the closet to see how well it fit, it was so conspicous over my faded jeans (with holes in the knees) and sneakers (with faded pink spots where a certain sister of mine took artistic liberties with a marker). That’s my everyday attire; how am I supposed to wear a cashmere coat?

With a scarf.

I should find a few skiens of a very comfy feeling yarn, and whip out a very simple scarf. The neck is rather open, and I’ll be confronted with drafts if I don’t do something.

Except that I solmenly said to myself I wasn’t to be starting any other projects until I finished some up, and by the time I do happen to finish some up, winter will be over.

I could not wear the coat until next year.

But that would be silly; sillier, even, than wearing the coat this year without a scarf and over sneakers.

And! I am very sad and mourning the loss of one of my fingerless gloves I had knitted. I don’t know where it got to, but it isn’t in my pocket like it’s supposed to be. They were the perfect things, and I wore them all the time, till I lost one.

***

Well, I have been summonded to supper, and it’s my night to wash dishes, so I’m afraid my post won’t even have a chance to develope and congel into something a little more substantial. Perhaps another day. . .