I tend to think of things a lot in metaphors. I have even been mocked for this particular trait at various points in my youth and young adulthood. I just see parallels between things a lot, and sometimes stuff is easier to explain or even think about when you route it through an image of something else.
I’ve talked on here before about uncertainty.
Lately I’ve been pressed by a few people in conversation to define that. To explain exactly what I mean. Like, so where does it end, and what am I certain of, exactly, or when am I certain, like is it a yes or a no, or which things are yeses and which are nos. Which is kind of the problem, isn’t it?
But basically in my brain it’s been forming into this metaphor of a couple, a married couple, where one of them is in the military.
My sister has a friend (who has a grandma who has a cat…) that told us one time the story of her parents’ early marriage. The gist of it was that they met, they fell in love, they got married, and about five minutes later he was taken as a prisoner of war and went MIA. Which is how he stayed for, if my facts are correct (and if they’re not, Bonnie will correct me), I believe something like seven years.
I cannot even imagine. I can. not. even. imagine.
Sometimes Dane works sound and lights etc. at the CCA musicals in the spring and fall for like six whole days, and at risk of sounding totally needy and like a big giant mess, at the end of those weeks I usually need like a quiet dinner and some major cuddle time and 20 minutes of uninterrupted eye contact because I feel like we’re SO DISCONNECTED. Like I barely even KNOW HIM ANY MORE.
But so I’m imagining this woman, my sister’s friend’s mom, staying faithful and just waiting and hoping and believing that her husband will come back, that he’s staying faithful to her, or that he’s even still alive, for seven whole years, and all this based on what most would consider a fairly small foundation of a relationship before he left.
I think at one point a few years in, Washington called a bunch of wives and mothers of POW MIA’s to come and look through some photographs of bearded, emaciated prisoners that they’d gotten, to see if they could try to identify some of them, so that they might know who was even still alive. She thought that one of the prisoners was her husband. Her mother-in-law said it wasn’t. (Turns out later that it was.)
So anyway, in my head, I’m sort of chewing on this image of the way I would describe how I feel about God, comma, My Relationship With. And I’m thinking of these few tenuous connections that I can think back on, and kind of remember a little bit but they flicker in and out, and can I really trust them anyway, if I’m honest… and that’s what it feels like during certain seasons. Like I’m supposed to be clinging to this relationship with somebody that’s really, super, very far away and very quiet and sometimes I can’t tell if he’s even actually waiting for me too, and I don’t even have any certainty that there will even ever be a reunion or whatever. And then there’s all this other stuff that’s loud and right in my face and seems like it points to the fact that it’s pretty unlikely that there’s this groom out there, beneath the pale moonlight, etc.
Last week was rough. Like, super rough. I don’t want to be a cryptic blogger that alludes to big secret things and then doesn’t tell you, but I also don’t want to tell you, but this story is a lot better if you know that it was pretty big and crappy, so sorry, that’s what you get.
Saturday I got to have a good long talk with my mom and a really pretty excellent family day all around, but I was still not really feeling the like “talking to God” part of things. I was pretty frustrated and annoyed, and maybe a little angry, and definitely not feeling any kind of intimacy or whatever.
Sunday I went to church. My cousin had brought Descartes with him and I was flicking through his Meditations on First Philosophy (during the sermon. Oops!), which I mostly only got through the first Meditation, which is all about wiping the slate clean and unlearning everything you know etc. etc., and I was probably sort of enjoying wallowing in this existentio-religious rebellion and basically philosophically sticking my fingers in my ears and crossing my arms at the same time (which you can do philosophically even though it’s impossible physically) right there as I sat in church.
Then my mom pulled me up to the altar.
[That’s the rewind noise, like in movies where they back up to tell the story from a different part.]
Probably a little more than a year ago, I met Sambo. He is the coolest kid ever. He’s from Cambodia, and that guy NEVER doesn’t smile. And one of the first things I ever learned about Sambo was that he had a wife, a wife that lit his face up like Christmas when he talked about her, back in Cambodia.
Every time I’ve seen Sambo over the past year +, I’ve tried to remember to ask about his wife. He showed us pictures of the furniture he had built for her, in their house. He had put pictures of her up in frames all over the stuff that he had built, beautiful ornate handiwork, just jumping out of his skin for when the Powers That Be would decide that she was allowed to come over and live with her husband.
Three years, he waited, getting his house ready, telling everybody he knew, in his slowly-improving English, about his wife that was coming soon, hopefully.
So anyway. My mom pulled me up to the altar. It’s not like we NEVER do that, but it’s not exactly common, either. But she knew about the stuff that was super heavy on my heart, and was making me feel a zillion miles away from God, and I think in her mind she might have even been annoyed for a second to be interrupted by what came next, because she didn’t even know. She didn’t even know!
So our knees barely hit the little red padded thingamajig, and I’m thinking Mom, you’re the best. And I’m thinking, even if I can’t really so much hear or feel anything from God right now, at least I have a pretty fantastic family, so that’s probably good enough. And all the sudden there’s this flurry, and this incredibly beautiful if somewhat bewildered Cambodian girl is kneeling right next to my mom, and Sambo is next to her talking maybe a little too loudly for the altar, and gesticulating wildly, and he’s introducing us to his wife. She’s here!
So, yeah. There’s that. And if I tell all of you, then when my stupid forgetful ingrate flesh decides to not remember it and be all rebellious and angsty again, I fully expect you to throw it in my face. I think one of the most important things we can do for each other is to help each other remember.