On Tuesday and Thursdays (with a change today, as I was scrambling to finish a draft book chapter), Hilary Sherratt and I write letters back and for to each other, public letters to one another in which we tease out faith and theory and life and episodes of Gossip Girl, and invite you to join us in the comments. You can read the letter I’m responding to here. Dear Hilary,
I love the hurricane, too. I love the wild whirl of the everyday busy. I love telling people I need to check my schedule to see what I can do about fitting them in. I always fit them in, but I like the idea of being the sort of person who gets to tell them that I'm fitting them in, a narcissism that haunts me even now when I'm supposed to be, already, an adult.
Last night, I started to pack my room to leave. I put in The Kids are All Right, taped up a box, and dumped in clothes. In one of my closets, on a dilapidated chest of drawers, I have kept a piled stack of beautiful words. These are the letters from best friends, old friends, friends that have placed oceans between us and friends that I will soon place an ocean between. The words stretch back to childhood and promise to stretch into old age. After I had packed the second box, managed to fill, close, and tape, I was left to confront this stack of beauty--and then comes the thunderclap. The sudden, heart-stopping confrontation of what it means to be leaving.
I turned off the movie, packed a bag, and fled to Common Grounds to work on my book.
Everyone talks about how hard it is to leave their friends. I know that we all have those people we're wounded to lose. I know we all say that our friendships are different, more special, more unique, and that somehow that means we feel it more than anyone else. But can I say that for me, that's true? Can I tell you of the thunderclap that stopped my heart, the realization that hours spent together marveling about the beauty of God and laughing over the quiet jokes of broken words are suddenly taken. Presence slides between fingers.
And it comes as a thunderclap, holding this icon stack of words, these promises that life and love are to be had. What is it to leave well? What is it to depart? I know that we speak of death as the great, awful thing, but in a sense death is better. In death, we trust that the one we love has passed into the presence of Christ, has been ushered into Beauty. There is grief, there is pain, but what is this pain of the living, separated by space and time? What is this pain of knowing that somewhere in the world exists a fractured piece of your soul that you have handed off, have given over, that is no longer your own and is no longer with you?
I think this, aside from the glory of God, is why I look forward to Heaven.
In Heaven, there is no more leaving. There is no more geography of displacement. In Heaven, we can spend an eternity seeing that moment, that glorious moment, when one you love suddenly discovers something new about God and offers that insight and joy back to you.
I look forward to the end of death; but, I truly look forward to the end of leaving.
But, to think of it, this sweeping in of Glory shall come as a thunderclap too.
Love and every grace,