Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rejoice and Be Sad


This one goes out to all of you with bruised hearts and weary souls. You have a neighbor in me.

I shouldn't be so naive to think Summer might fix everything. It does help, in pockets. It eases us up, throws us a few welcomed curve-balls. The neighborhood rises up from its winter tomb and if I let myself, all I can hear is laughter at the park, squealing at the splash pad. If I try hard enough, my eyes sweep past the undercurrents of wanting.

But I have looked into your eyes, leaned closer to catch your words, strained with worry and doubt.
And you have done the same for me.

We are sad.
We are battered.
Our sails are shredded.

We see the world around us and it gives us the blues. It makes us forget things we know, or teaches us lessons we'd rather ignore. This world, it doesn't just wound us. It is a wound. It's gaping, and we spill out, part of the pain.

This all sounds very dramatic. I'm sorry for that.
I'm staring out my dining room window right now at trees that will never be more vibrant, grass that would not be kept dull - survivors of bitter cold, months of gray, and now, sun-shock and a parade of flip-flopped feet.

I want to notice the green, and I do.

But I can't not-see the last abandoned house that remains on my block, its siding chipped and faded. I wish it away and beg it to stay, a metaphor for most facets of my life. It's a spot of darkness when I'd rather see beauty. It shines a light on reality when I'd rather escape. It reminds me of what's broken, reflects my own poverty. What would it be like if we all got our wish and they bulldozed it, started fresh? Do I really prefer a life spent squinting against the glare of new and better and cleaner and brighter?

The honest truth is, I do not.
The honest truth is, some days I prefer a crumbling foundation. Some days, that is my comfiest home.

Listen - we were made to feel pain. It rends us from ourselves. It tears at our brightness. It smudges our view, hides us away. Pretending to be untouchable is the bitter end of brotherhood.

If I know anything at all on this bright morning, it's that sadness is important, and no one wants to be wrestled from it before it has passed. Maybe we could just stop patting each other's heads and offering emotional lollipops as a reward for smiling when we'd rather worship in a different way. We'd much rather lament, some days, without the salve of gladness. We get to experience the distinct solace of being stowed away in the palm of God's hand.

I see your weariness. I can trace the shape of the weight you're under. I've been there. I'll be there again and, when I am, I know you'll sit across from me, leaning in, reminding me I'm allowed the dignity of actually feeling my life. All of it.

Nothing is forsaken.
Tomorrow is a different day.
All of those things are probably true.

But now and then, for you today and eventually, again, for me, we sit quieter, speak more slowly, allow ourselves the the truth of the moment.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
And rejoicing doesn't always follow the rules.