I was never wounded by the Church, which I understand sets me at odds with the majority of my generation. I'm not mad at Her, I'm not afraid of Her. I love Her. It's a love that runs so deep it cracks all denominational categories, overturns political allegiance, and scares the Hell right out of some people, because it doesn't fit into a categorical box.
And this is where I am. This is who I am. It is, fairly, who I have always been.
When do we stop growing? When does our theology settle down?
Dare we hope it never does?
An infinite God lends infinity to discover.
Is this a matter of youth?
But in Thy light we see light.
In Him there is only more of Him to find.
I meet a friend a few weeks ago who has been walking through pain for nearly as long as we've been close.
Before I arrive I stop off in the bookseller, take the stairs to the top floor and comb through the sections until I have to ask someone for help in locating the essays. Essay sections are small now, in corners right before fiction and right after memoir, an organizational decision that I think is more telling than people realise.
There is only one copy of Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem left and I hold it idly as I walk back down the stairs, thinking that this is what I'm trying to do. I am trying, someday, to have a book in this section or the Christian section or whatever section it is people like me in the time when people like me are published are placed in.
See, the question of when returns.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a book I love to hate because its title is so good and so clear that I think I should never conceive a title so profound, especially one that could serve as the extended metaphor of my life, of Christian life, of all of our lives---for Bethlehem waits for all of us, like it or not.
We feast a bit, my friend and I, and exchange the news of the day. I talk of Scotland and knowing the name of the butcher and about the walk every morning through the woods, along the stream. She tells me of the sad things, with her brave eyes and her firm love, and we share over the unity of self a sacrament of a kind. I pull out Didion and place her on the table between us, point to the book and say that I got it for her.
I meant to read it on the plane. But if I look back at the events it was for her from the start, because Holy Ghost is quiet these days and works most clearly in retrospect. So it's true enough, perhaps the most True of all truths, and it's on the table between us regardless and it means exactly what it should.
Her wounds, mine. Slouching toward manger throne. Are any of us so different?
The question of when.
About once a week for the past year, I've nearly given up blogging. Facebook. Twitter. (I generally never consider giving up Instagram.)
I'm not sure anyone, unless they do it, really understands that. There's a luxury in being a reader, because it comes with a kind of entitlement, a right to someone's words and thereby a right to their story. It's an exhausting task. A task that everyone has an opinion on.
We shouldn't engage negativity and we should only write peace. We shouldn't ever write about trite things like motherhood and crafts but about Trinitarian discourse and post-modern criticism of Rouault.
Everyone's own way of doing it seems to be the only way of doing it and though there is a lot of talk about grace, the dispensation of it is wanting in measure.
This has something to do with the question of when, too. When does it become acceptable to not quite fit?
In God's timing.
Is there anything more frustrating than this spoken truth?
Yes, of course, but when there is a decision to be made that could affect the whole of a life, when prayer is met with silence, when it is possible to be faithful whichever direction is chosen, is the timing of God, mystery upon mystery, the best we have to offer?
This is the way, walk in it.
Would that He speak a bit more loudly and with a more definite article than this.
What is this?
What is now?
The question of youth.
When I was in college a half dozen professors and deans told me that I was too young to pursue the dreams I had and would, one day, burn out from all my interests.
Having lived through elementary, middle, and high school hearing similar rhetoric, I had grown used to simply smiling and offering a casual nod.
Have you taken our advice and slowed down?
This, my last semester before graduating.
In fact, I did anything but slow down. I learned Latin, a bit of Greek, academic French, and Old French. I published two journal articles on sexual politics and theological narrative in the Middle Ages. I spoke on a half dozen panels not as an undergraduate but as an invited guest about how to best interpret and contextually engage the poetess Marie de France, a little known scribe from the eleventh century. I sat on the committee for a National Endowment for the Humanities translation grant, attended the Austin film festival two years in a row as a scholar engaging popular culture and textual engagement, and spent my summers living in England working with local churches while reading everything I could from Berry, Didion, Atwood, Wright, and Greene.
The question of youth.
Only writing, perhaps acting, seems to be the profession where artistic talent is met with the response: you're too young.
A prodigy in music, in painting, in myriad other professions, but in writing the supposition is that next year will be better than this, so it's best to wait.
The question of when.
Perhaps of marketability.
I know my numbers, I know my stats. I don't indulge lengthy conversations about them but I know them nonetheless. So when I gird myself with the confidence that I should keep writing because people are still reading, the absent feeling, the lack, returns with the question of the wait. The when.
I realise the silliness of this sometimes. I'm worried about book deals, agents, food blogs. Are these real things? At the end of the day, do they even matter?
But what does? If all may be counted as loss compared to Christ, yet we still feed ourselves, could feeding ourselves well be a grace?
Why do we always think we have one another so neatly figured out, that what is right for one is right for all?
Maybe some of us are loud and some quiet.
Maybe some, like me, are a bit of both.
The sum of a person is not their blog. Maybe that's why I'm almost ready to say I'm done.
This post cannot have seven sections.
It is incomplete.
It is not finished.
It is not.
And this is not a post asking for encouragement, it is not a post saying that something has been discovered.
It is a post because I needed to put words out into the void today, because there are more prayers in more circles than I can keep straight right now, because because because.
And sometimes, an unspoken because is a cosmos, is enough.