falling asleep to croaking and i can see the night sky. today has been one of the most beautiful days i have had in what feels like ever. i have missed this. i have missed my family and amanda and ryan, and the rolling green that is the central valley in april. life is sweet. and i’m so glad it’s easter.
I am not sure of most things these days, including but not limited to: who I am becoming, what or who God is, how to survive in a school culture that values things that I cannot believe are Christianity, how I will survive monetarily as an adult, if I should go to seminary next year, and where I am going to live in two and a half months. Sometimes I sit in my place of work, or in my home, and daydream about writing books and speaking in front of people. Me, speak in front of humans? Why I can barely carry on civil conversations anymore. And this is true.
I’ve become an angry worry-wart. I’m not sure what else I’m becoming. Part of this is growing older and realizing I must become emancipated from my parents, and this terrifies me to no end. Part of this is the people I am surrounded by that adhere to contrived “moral” obligations that I can only see perpetuating existing problems, or even creating new ones (I don’t have a solution for these problems, though, and it frustrates me). Part of this is not knowing what is ethical in the first place, as the guidelines I have received up to this point have led to me to participate in systems that (though I may not fully understand what is ethical) are blatantly unethical. Part of this is being in a long-distance relationship that requires constant tending and gardening - while I would never take back the past 8ish months, I am glad that this part will soon be over (the flowers are beautiful by the way :).
I am sad, and I hate the weather here. I am working a job where I overhear the conversations of and interact with students laden with economic privilege, existing in racist and sexist stories, and colonizing people in the name of Jesus. Three years ago I would have loved to join in the conversations detailing different projects or trips exercising my ability to “teach about Jesus,” or even maybe to make a joke about women in the kitchen. However small these things may seem, I have grown to see how they point to much bigger problems within the culture I have arrived in, and specifically how they have distorted Christian purpose and identity. This all makes me feel very lost and confused and wrong.
I haven’t written good poetry since summer, and I rarely feel inspired to do much more than nap. The people I have developed deep relationships with do not live near me (except for Alison, my loyal and beloved roommate of four years), and I often feel so misunderstood and angry at the world that I hole up in my room for fear of blasting the next roommate to walk through and ask to borrow my fill-in-the-blank. Fear of the unknown, anger at injustice and my own sordid experiences, hurt from what I have been told is the “church,” and just a general lack of space and ability to breathe has left me in a very lonely place. I have always been good at being alone, but never have I been this lonely.
Since the start of this season in the Church calendar I have participated in Lent, like many kids at my school. I wasn’t sure what this year would bring, if anything. It seems the only other time I’ve finished participating in Lent was when I was ten and I decided to give up chocolate (a big feat at the time, let me tell you - I was eating around chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies). I’m still not sure if this time around has done anything. I am finished with the kind of thinking that says these kinds of liturgical commitments are about me feeling something or getting something out of the process: although these are a part of the Lenten exercise in faith, they are most definitely not the point. But, it is still good to ask, what has moved since the start of Lent?
Tomorrow marks the day on our calendar creating space for us to fix our eyes on the Christ who has been violated for our resurrection, redemption, and reconciliation. Sunday, April 20, marks the day on our calendar that the same Christ resurrects, bearing marks of his former self, proof of his identity as a God who comes among us and defeats death by succumbing to it. I will admit, I do not much understand a God like this: who willingly moves in to the world’s neighborhood, teaches us how to love, and lets himself die in order to show that death is not the end, but the beginning of life. I do not understand most things about this Jesus, whom I have loved since I was a little girl but forget to love as I grow older. I do not understand, cognitively, spiritually, or emotionally, most things about the religion and faith that has emerged as a result of this one man’s life, death, and resurrection. But I’m beginning to see that this doesn’t much matter. If Christ is God, then Christianity is not about how awful of a year I have had, or even how angry I can get about things that both do and do not matter. It might not be about this at all.
The anger and frustrations described above, I believe, have the essence of the human experience. We love, we hurt, we cry, we close up, we mourn, we try to open, we can’t, people frustrate us, we’re lonely, we don’t agree, we feel misunderstood, we still love but don’t know how to live love, we get confused, we doubt, we get scared, we wail, we despair, we worry, we try to control what we are incapable of controlling, we rinse and repeat. In some ways, the reactions that we often characterize as childish are still our reality. They don’t do what they’re told and stay in childhood like they ought. They come out in social situations, in relationships, in the workplace, when we’re alone, in our understanding of God. All of the sudden we find ourselves, or I find myself, standing at the metaphorical crossroads of, “Where do I go from here?” The answer is never very clear. I do think though, that the God of Jesus Christ finds us here. And this is why, though I often think I am a heretic who will never get love or relationships or my philosophy pegged, I still have some hope that the season I have already described in my own life is just that - a season. And even further, that even if this season last for years, I am exactly where I should be, because:
-in the place where I recognize that my anger is swallowing and eating me
-in the place where my frustrations turn into gossip and alienation
-in the place where I feel both right and justified
-in the place where I neglect the God I have loved for so long
-in the place where my worry about the next few months keeps me from enjoying my present
-in the place where the insidious malnutrition of my spirit leaves me dehydrated and hungry
-in the place where, when I wake up, I wonder if this is really my life
-in the place where my artistic self is dried up and voiceless, uninspired, and unwatered
-in the place where I am in need, desperate need…
I see that Lent, and the present space I exist in in all spheres, is really a time in which I have jeered and spat at the foot of the cross. This, at first glance, does not sound or seem good at all. It isn’t. And there wouldn’t be hope, except that tomorrow…I am invited into a narrative that says,
"Yes, come. You are walking dead. Let us go into the tomb, and you will see what I can do."
Jesus, I am ready to see what you can do.
i can’t quite understand how so many artists love LA. i usually feel like i’m choking here, with everything to do and no time in which to process what has been done.
no gumption for sitting in beautiful places and writing things;
mostly just hours in the library, trying to catch the faint smell of summer in the mornings before work, trying my damnedest to not scream at every APU student i know, and constant homesickness.
i’m getting to a place where i’m realizing i may never live in oakdale again. i am excited about this, but never want to live as if the rolling tides of go-with-the-flow that rumble through that town do not also tumble around in my bones. i’m made up of long walks at midnight, sitting by the river and not caring about blood-suckers, star-gazing, and fro-yo.
oh Jesus, don’t let me get so caught up in what i need to do to move into adulthood that i become the adults i have disliked for so long. help me learn how to enjoy again,
and how to breathe in smog.
that I love you, but I know
how to say that I want to plant
seeds in the wrinkles around
your eyes that you get when
you smile and I know that I
want to be around long enough
to see each seed bloom."