On Tuesday and Thursdays, 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,
It happened. It happened sooner than I imagined it would, but it did. I packed up my life, loaded it in a trailer, spent a night in a barren room, and then walked across a stage. A life was lived somewhere in those packed boxes. A life was made and received. Now, I am home with my parents for the summer, writing grant proposals for ministries and working on the book. My days are interesting people and clerical gymnastics; coffee cups and Wordpress. In that way, it's the same life. It's the same me. But the icons, the objects that made this life, recall this life, were packed away for a time. I managed a lot of tears before leaving Baylor, but the real tears came in the unpacking. The unpacking of a life, the raw, laying out, of who I am now without the proximity of those who hold pieces of my soul.
And here, I want to show these things to you. I want to unpack the icons of a life. It's an exercise in hearing.
A wall sconce, hung high. The shell is an icon of baptism, used in very early Christian art. The hanging ghost from Pacman is from a Sonic Kids Meal, which Antonia gave me one day just to get it out of her car. Her first paper in our Masterworks in Art class was on baptism, so they seem best kept together.
A cork, from the last time Samuel, Grant, and I were together, for now. Franciscan, like one of the first bottles, bought because of St. Francis. A shell Samuel sent me last summer, when I was waiting to hear. A piece of sea glass I carried on the shore from St. Andrews, two summers ago, when I first thought I was supposed to go there.
A memory full desk, with a water bottle atop it like the kind Jerry has, which reminds me of him most, in a funny kind of way. Tiny porcelain things from church camps, Micron pens and Moleskines, iPods, glass milk jugs in the bottom right from my paternal grandmother's house. A brick, in the center, from the parking lot of the church I served in my freshman year at Baylor.
Atop the desk, another particular icon. Samuel and Cherié gave me that Scripture, my favorite for writing, for the promise of writing, the night before my thesis defense. On either side, in the back, flowering pots of the ugliest sort of fake flowers. Samuel and I may have slowly stolen those, piece by piece, from the lobby of our residence hall. Then a reminder of London, something from my grandfather, and tiny bookend idols, redeemed, from when my mother lived in Asia.
Another painted icon. The one Samuel and Cherié painted for my birthday two years ago. And a spoon, which is an icon too of Samuel, but that has a story all its own. A library of movies to the left and the spill over in the center.
This was a surprise guest, a giant bear from my parents when I arrived home the Sunday after graduation. He's reading that little Latin copy of Cicero, there with the red cover.
C'est une plume. The pen I signed my book contract with. Someday, someday, I'll do something nice with it. But for now, I rather like the almost vulgar simplicity of it.
As for the rest? I shall let them be as they are; speak for themselves.
So, this is me. All unpacked icons and hopeful things. My icon stacks of books that promise me there are those who have heard God, who hear God, that I too can hear, that I can hear again.
I hope, as you pack your icons, you are well.
P.S. Chuck and Blair forever? I have mixed feelings. The last two minutes may have rescued the entire past season from being delightfully stupid.