Monday, September 20, 2010

Batteries not included

For the past ten years I have lived in darkness of one kind or another.  Sometimes it was a total lack of understanding over what was going on in my life, that feeling of falling down the proverbial rabbit hole and finding that nothing makes sense, looks familiar, feels like home.  Other times it was the darkness of sorrow, like a weighty velvet curtain across my heart, suffocating my ability to bear witness to joy; the knowledge that it still existed, further insult to my shattered state.  There was illness and too much death, and then one day, I just didn’t turn the lights on at dusk, so comfortable had I grown in the dark.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at the computer, windows framing blue skies and sunshine, when the power just disappeared, like God blowing out a candle so softly you didn’t even hear the flame sizzle.  I waited for the inevitable power-up but it didn’t come, cursed the Facebook fascination that now rendered me egg-less, (and in that deprivation, all I could think was, Soft-boiled eggs--the food of the gods!). I began making preparation—called KCPL, took out the trash, and went for a walk/run believing with all my heart that when I walked down Briar Drive I would see it lit up like Christmas.

Well, half of it was.  The other half--my half, let’s call us the half-nots--lined up like sad little Olivers (musical theatre reference—google it) bereft and envious.  Darkness was falling and I knew that it would arrive before the power did.  I scavenged a flashlight (did ever a family have so many non-battery containing flashlights?  I feel this is a significant homemaker’s flaw on my record), hauled out the entertainment section, found the time and location for The Town, and was opening my car door when I thought, “What if the power is not back on when you return?  Will you want to sit with The Town in the darkness?”  Um, no.  What could I live with in the dark?  Scarlet Letter redux, Easy A--the only funny movie I know about right now (yeah let’s just say I’m not exactly UP on things).

The movie was all I imagined it would be and, surprisingly, more.  I tried to think positively as I drove home, but I knew what I would find.

It wasn’t that I was afraid.  Nor was I wishing for air conditioning or comfort.  No, as I lit a few candles, fished something (quickly! quickly!) out of the refrigerator, and pulled the newspapers out for recycling, I realized that with all of my heart, what I wanted was to see

My sister told me about a cave she and her family visited that contains ponds with fish; colorless and entirely blind, so long have they lived in darkness.  Painful as it is for me to admit, I knew this was what I had become.  I’d made my peace with the darkness in my life, a state, I believe, all grieving hearts must reach.  "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it," Jesus said, and over the years, both fiercely clutching and with a free hand, piece by piece, I had let it go.

The problem was, I'd forgotten the rest of the sentence, "But whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

Funny, the places we find lost things--car seats, coat pockets, the last place we used them.  For me, it was on a road in the middle of nowhere, which turned out to be the exact right spot on the map; a hand in the darkness striking a match.  This way.  As the days passed it returned—the right book at the right time, a song on the radio, a letter to a faraway land. How did it happen, this wind change in my heart? At what moment did I become like a watchman on a hill scanning the sky for that slip of a crescent, certain of its existence; faith like a tent revival springing up in a beaten town.

I sat in the darkness last night and knew there was a message for me.  This morning I awakened to electricity and sat down at the computer to find it. 

“Arise, shine, for your Light has come,” said the prophet Isaiah. 

I'm on my way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Home is wherever I'm with You

You see the way it works is, the train leaves, not the station
A League of Their Own

I have spent a lifetime not being at a loss for words.  In person, at weddings, in prayer, and at bedtimes, consonants and vowels have waited for me to snatch them up by the handful like manna from heaven.

Yet now all I can think of is Marla Hooch standing at the train station, all bad hair, worse clothes and muted tongue, terrified at the thought of the unknown; the risks we take when we leave the house and start living the life for which we were created.

The sorrow of loss comes with its own paralysis, its immediacy as raw as its heartache.  We long for sympathetic ears and hands that guide us to cozy chairs and cups of tea, when what we really need is the grating voice of Jon Lovitz unsentimentally telling us the truth--Get your ass on the train because it is going somewhere better than this, and if you don’t hustle you will miss it.  And the rest of your life.  

Consider this my first postcard.