Three days later I attended a memorial service for a 29-year-old man who left a stunningly gorgeous wife and two beautiful baby girls behind. His untimely death was mourned by a full house in an enormous sanctuary. He and I were confirmed together at Easter Vigil, 2008. We shared a birthday, in a way. His wife stood up and said that no one in the world made her feel more comfortable than her husband had. I wasn't expecting her to say that, but it made sense when I thought about it. Comfort was the need everyone there could identify with the most. She looked at his picture before returning to her seat and declared, "You and I will live forever." A celebration of life, and the eternal aspect of love.
With these events and sleep deprivation in play, I have been thrown off my routine. I've been on overload and had to try my hardest to shut a few things out. Too much noise. Not enough comfort. I haven't known what to tell you. I have been in shock at the depth of emotions, positive and negative, that can coexist. I am only human, and this has required insight of divine proportions to begin to understand. Life can seem meaningless if it is so easily snuffed out. Then again, if we can't know the number of our days, then let's pack as much into each one as possible? My head and my heart can't sort out these conflicting inputs.
So what do I do? I run. This clears my head. This does not make anything make more sense, but it makes me stop trying so hard to wrap my mind around my emotions. It pounds out a few ounces of rebellion against my circumstances and the senselessness of life-loss. Yes, I am sensitive. Sometimes irrationally so...
Last night I bought new running shoes to support my habit of head-clearing. I was very excited about the great feeling in my feet when I wore them, and then my roomie dearest let me know that they were probably made in a sweat shop. Huh. Interesting.
I had to think for awhile about the efforts that I make on a regular basis to relieve oppression throughout the world. Then I look at these shoes I love so much, and I wonder, "Do I perpetuate oppression as much if not more often than I alleviate it?" This life is so strange. It's like we're sewing a pattern and every new stitch we're making is unraveling a previous stitch. I ... don't ... get it.
But always -- and I do mean always -- when I come to this point, my favorite Book springs to mind, and words come rock-skipping across the murky pool of my thoughts, making their landing strong and true and sinking deep, deeper than before, when they just sat like pebbles on the shore line.
So there is life and death, futility and fruitfulness, but there must be Love.
I invite you to review with me some of the lesser-known verses of 1 Corinthians 13:
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. [...]Forgive my childish thinking and reasoning tonight, my friends. Someday, I shall know fully. Today all I know is that All You Need Is Love.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.