Same New

I sat at my desk, just thinking, when it occurred to me that I had lived these moments before. I couldn’t remember when, or whether I had dreamed it some night or whether I was simply imagining things, but as I sat there thinking the same old thoughts, those few moments felt familiar.  It was an intense feeling, and it made me nostalgic as if there was a time when I had lost something important, and I came into the realization that the life I was living wasn’t anything new.

These nights I have taken to reading.  Each night is different in when I go to sleep. But  I always start out reading Harry Potter, thinking that it’s high time I read the whole series.  After I turn my light off, settle, begin to rest and wait for sleep, all of a sudden I get to thinking and find myself staring into the darkness.  The light goes on and I reach for my favorite piece of fiction, A History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

Every night my sister comes and sits on my bed.  Sometimes we read, sometimes we laugh and talk until late in the morning, sometimes I tell her stories of ancient kings and queens of Britain, or the Roman Britain period, my favorite subject when I was in school.  She listens enraptured, and I am filled with pleasure as I pass on what I have learned to someone else.

Often I read until I fall asleep.  In the wintertimes here we usually get a spurt of warm weather. During one of these few warm nights I left my window wide open to get the fresh air inside.  It was late and my sister was reading on my bed with me.  I was fully relaxed, my mind was soaking in the beauty of what I was reading, I was tired from a long day of work, and the next thing I knew I woke up with my face pressed against the pages of my book, and I heard a hard rain falling on the porch roof just below my window. 

Sometimes I wake up to the snow that wrapped itself around everything during the night.  I suck the air into my lungs, I breathe hard, I live.

I always like to think of myself as strong and healthy.  Yes, I live, I am alive, but far from healthy.  And I think to myself, “I am so young, I am full of life, why am I not well?” And I have to realize that it’s not just me.  Every human being suffers in his or her own way.  Every child is born with its own set of physical imperfections, and I am no exception.  I desire perfect health just like everyone does, but also I know I must fight for it.  Every day I can wake up dissatisfied, or every day I can wake up feeling myself wrapped in grace and mercy even as I am burrowed in my warm bed.

Maybe the point isn’t doing something new.  Maybe it’s not being someone new or living new minutes.  True we’re plunged further and further into the future that none of us have experienced yet.  Maybe it’s about finding the beauty in every minute, even if it feels like a used minute, a second-hand minute.  There’s is nothing new under the sun, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing beautiful, nothing unique. 

I have to think of this every day when I feel like I’m living the same life, the same happiness and sadness, satisfaction and dissatisfaction over and over again.  Nearly always I fail. But I know I can keep running, I know I can persevere until the end because of the grace given to me. 

It should be with delight that I live the same moments over and over again.  God delights in doing the same thing, making the same daisies over and over again, making the sun rise in the same place every morning, the planets spinning in their orbits.  He delights in running creation, even if for us doing the same thing every day is reduced into the category of the mundane.  We must strive to be more like God.  It shouldn’t be with a sinking feeling that we go to our work every day, that we feel ourselves living used minutes or hours or years.  It should be with freshness and vigour and the will to live fully that we embrace the life that is laid out before us.  Because I know that in order to live fully, I don’t need to have perfect health, I don’t need new minutes or more minutes.  As Gandalf would say, “All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.” And it’s true. 

What can I make with this time, with this life? And as I look, I see that the answer is full.

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And then there’s that other thing…

Well the reality of the situation is that after four months in Italy I’m returning “home” and sometimes I think I’m just dusting my hands and saying, “well that’s that,” but really it’s much more than that.  I keep thinking: “and then there’s that other thing…”  One more reason why I can’t wait to go home, one more reason why I’m reluctant to leave.  It’s always an area of interest, when your heart feels so torn and beat up about something.  An area of pain or suffering, perhaps, but adding yet another layer to life and as a writer I can’t help but say: “I hate that this is happening to me, but I love that this is happening to me.”

Honestly, there are going to be problems anywhere you go.  And I’m not raining on anybody’s parade here, I’m just saying.  You go to a place thinking that it’s as emotionally easy as looking at a photograph of that place.   Then you go, you meet people.  Not only do you eventually have to leave them, sometimes they leave you, and they leave you forever, and you’re left grieving for them in a place foreign to you, feeling more alone than ever.  Because of your turmoil, the place begins to be a special place to you.  You develop a way of living.  You become accustomed to certain things (for me, the church bells ringing all the time, the pigeons, and these huge keys for all the doors) and then you find that you have to leave all of this behind, to practically start over.

Life is all about “continual beginnings” and “habitual fresh starts” as J.R.R. Tolkien would have it.  But I think it’s a matter of realizing that it is a “fresh” start.  You don’t pick up right where you left off, when you come home.  You start exactly as you find yourself in that moment.  And if I may be allowed to quote Tolkien again….  “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back?”  We live too much in the past.  We experience one thing, and instead of accepting what it has been, we go back to try to experience the same thing again, but it never works like that.  Nothing is the same, and you are left feeling empty and dissatisfied with yourself and everybody else.

And in a sense this is going into the idea of home more than the idea of being abroad.   I love home.  It’s a crazy place filled with love and stupid fights about who gets the last piece of pie, and tons of people, not just siblings but aunts and uncles and it’s this time of year, Christmas, that I get to enter back into that circle of family, that just keeps stretching with more births and marriages.

But I find that when I am dreaming of home, I am dreaming of my home in Cleveland.  When I realize that I no longer live in Cleveland, I am dreaming of the old house in Pittsburgh, where we had fires in the winter and out of my window at night I could see the stars, and in the morning see a damp, dull light fingering its way through a bleak sky.  I loved those mornings.  And it’s a harsh reality to remember the summer before I went away, the summer we moved (again) into a house where I was never at home in the literal sense.  And this is nobody’s fault, it’s just the way it was.

What is important in coming back? Things are never as you expect them to be.  They always end up being different.  Here I am filled with nostalgia for my old homes, and yet I have the spirit and the joy of those old homes waiting for me in this new house.

Sure, life is hard.  And I’m not saying that lightly.  (Well, I am, but I’m not saying it thoughtlessly.)  I have a few brutally hard things running through my mind.  The things that keep me up at night. Yes, life is hard and it’s something to accept and something to deal with.  And also I have been reading Thomas Watson’s “All Things for Good” and he has been laying particular emphasis on the fact that some of the best things come from our difficulties and our sufferings.  God is constantly nurturing and growing us, growing us to him, always.  He’s not stomping on our heads or starving us or deserting us entirely or leaving us to die.  The simple fact that everything is, in the end, for our own good is in itself a hard thing to believe and accept, but once you can accept it, it frees you from so much fear and worry and doubt.

I have learned so much while I have been here.  I love so many things, I will miss so many things.  But this is wonderful about the human capacity to love and appreciate—there are even more things for me to love and develop the further I plunge into life.  And really, even though “going home” seems to imply a sense of safety and security, it feels more like an adventure right now, almost like home is a place I’ve never gone to before.

And I cannot, absolutely cannot resist quoting Wendell Berry as my closing thought: “I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.”

Clarity

One by one, the sharers in this mortal damage have born its burden out of the present world…At times perhaps I could wish them merely oblivious, and the whole groaning and travailing world at rest in their oblivion. But how can I deny that in my belief they are risen?

I imagine the dead waking, dazed, into a shadowless light in which they know themselves altogether for the first time. It is a light that is merciless until they can accept its mercy; by it they are at once condemned and redeemed. It is Hell until it is Heaven. Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light’s awful clarity, in seeing themselves within it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled. In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and are so changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be.

That light can come into this world only as love, and love can enter only by suffering. Not enough light has ever reached us here among the shadows, and yet I think it has never been entirely absent.

Remembering, I suppose, the best days of my childhood, I used to think I wanted most of all to be happy–by which I meant to be here and to be undistracted. If I were here and undistracted, I thought, I would be home.

But now I have been here a fair amount of time, and slowly I have learned that my true home is not just this place but is also that company of immortals with whom I have lived here day by day. I live in their love, and I know something of the cost. Sometimes in the darkness of my own shadow I know that I could not see at all were it not for this old injury of love and grief, this little flickering lamp that I have watched beside for all these years.

– Wendell Berry, A World Lost

There Goes Life

It’s almost like you are waiting and waiting and waiting and you could wait years or you could wait a few days and you wait for one second one part of a second before it’s gone and you don’t even have time to wave goodbye because you are plunged into the next waiting.  I am always waiting, and I used to think it was patience but now I know it’s not.  I am waiting because I am waiting to live my idea of one moment.  I am waiting because I am not living now.  I am waiting because I see no importance in now.  How existentialistic.

I want to be the person who stops waiting and looking ahead for the train that will take her to the next place and just stops to look around at everything to sing a song or two not because she is good at singing but because she can sing, the person who just breathes deeply, breathes so deeply that she can taste the smell of a place.

Because I strive too much.  I strive to finish things, I strive to do too much, I strive to please too many people, I strive to get the things I want and does that sound so healthy? Typical American, obsessed with busyness.

But what I desire more than anything is to be able to seize the second, what I want is to be able to rest completely in the grace of God, what I want is to be free from all the weight and pain and worry I bring upon myself by not resting or else I wear my life away striving.

And what is it really, what’s at the back of it all? Is it really the fact that I don’t think I have a story, and I am striving to get to the point where I will have a story? As Mumford and Sons would say… “Now how I long to grow old.” However,  Fydor Dostoevsky popped up in my newsfeed the other day, and I won’t say anything else after what he says because after he says this… there’s nothing left to say.

“But how could you live and have no story to tell?”

 

 

Smaller Things Called Life

For example, the joy of being able to tell something as precise and mysterious as time.  I was overwhelmed by this revelation.  At any given moment to be able to glance down at your wrist and pin the day to a time line in half a second.  Even disregarding the fact that with every tick a second of your life is taken away from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the week there is the flurry of school and learning.  Sometimes, there is that moment of calm, peace, where I make things and nothing else exists except the thing I am making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturdays life is full, and I clean by vacuuming and mopping floors and scrubbing the bathroom, and then I do my laundry, sometimes in the sink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there are the days when I work late in my studio at school, and there are tea and biscuits there on the table, a thousand things to write, but I get up and go to the window and look out into a blue night and a white moon, and a thousand lights moving as if they were fire instead of electricity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And sometimes I have to wonder, what would it be like it I had never come here at all, if my shoes never made such a sound against the floor, if I never felt my way along to the door in the dark and then burst out of the door into the lights of an Italian night, and I have to wonder, would I miss what I never experienced?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even here, the little things in life go on.  Eating, doing laundry, going to the bathroom, taking showers, sleeping, walking, coughing, sneezing, feeling hot, feeling cold, cleaning, listening to music, tapping your foot, waiting.  Everything is happening in the midst of the adventure, and the normal things that go on are what make the experience seem so real, so natural. And still, when I pray, I thank God for sending me here.

I Preach to Myself

If I’ve learned anything, and if there’s anything that I will reiterate over and over again, it is that the time we have to live fully is too little to be rushed and too long to be wasted.  You’ve heard it from me again and again on this blog.

But mostly I say it to myself because my life is the life that is rushed.  The stages surge together into one big current, and it no longer matters to me how old I am or what my maturity level is.  Because life is too short to wonder about that, to concern myself with it.

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” – Wendell Berry

And when Anne Frank talks about finding happiness in yourself… I have come to see what that means.  It’s not a form of selfishness or self-centeredness.  It is simply the ability to embrace who you are.  For me it has been a recognition of personality traits.  That I never cry, or that I like watching people’s feet underneath the dressing room door, or that I will sit in Starbucks and read perfectly contentedly for three hours, or that I love people, or that I’m a Facebook addict, or that I don’t mind working two part time jobs, or that I love my family, or that I enjoy doing things that shock people.  I laugh loudly and violently.   I have learned to embrace the loneliness of the moment, or the moment gone, because it’s only looking back at myself sitting all alone in a place that I feel loneliness—and so it exists only in retrospection.   I find contentment.  Or rather, I come into contentment.  It’s one of those things that you will never find if you try and pursue it, if you use it as an end.  It’s a gift.  You enter into it, and you feel its pervasive power in every minute.

I have been that person who listens and rests in the grace of the world.  I have been the one who has stood out under the stars and sought refuge from the force of rush and busyness.  Not even events or activities—but the rush of the head, the mind, the heart.  The stress that pushes out total equilibrium.  I have been the person who has exhaled empty feeling and bad feeling and anger and resentment and bitterness into the cold air and watched it dissolve, and felt the grace spring new, felt my soul reverberate with vitality.

I can’t tell you how to rest in grace.  There are things that I did, things I should have done that I didn’t.  It’s not a recipe, it’s not a check-list.  But this is a peculiarity of Christianity, that we are able to receive peace and not fight against it.  It is a gift.  And gifts are given to people that are undeserving, least expecting, even us as we are—humans.

Pursue joy.  Don’t let yourself be overtaken by your own desire for the world or yourself or others, let yourself be overtaken by joy.  Stop trying to live, and live.  Experience that release of the world, and be content.  Then you can find joy… joy in the God who created you, joy in you for Christ in you, joy for this whole life, this wonderful thing that was given to us to toil in and to enjoy.  “But we do not have to live as if we were alone.” – Wendell Berry.  He’s right.  We were given a whole fellowship of Christians, believers, to learn and grow with.  Humans were made to love.  Love your brothers and sisters.  Love the whole human race.  Give yourself totally over to love, and let it be your life.  When you begin to live in love, you begin to live in contentment, because God is love and in him is ultimate peace.

“I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.” – Wendell Berry

Introspection

There are those certain things in life that surprise you, amaze you, and you become lost in their beauty and significance, which brings you full circle to glorifying God.  Sometimes these are little things.

I seek quiet, when I can.   Lately I’ve been working 5-6 days a week, and am rarely home.  I have been trying to train myself to seek out the quiet moments, find them when I can.  Maybe on the short fifteen minute break I get, sitting in a quiet room, just enjoying the silence.

Two seconds count.  In less than a second a small insect disappeared in front of the red toad named Pimples (I didn’t name her).

“Do it again!” I said.  And it reminded me of when Chesterton talked about the repetition of things.  How the sun doesn’t rise every morning because it’s on a cycle, but because God is actively commanding the sun to, “do it again.”  We have become discontent with repetition, with the simple things like the rising of the sun, or the look of a daisy.  We desire something new because we have grown weary and tired of the things that used to amaze us.  “We have sinned and grown old and our Father is younger than we.”  It is from a great energy that a child is able to enjoy a trick performed in front of him a thousand times over.  We have lost something as we have grown.  When we weary of the little things, we pursue new things, and we are constantly on a running journey to discover something new, to be pleased in a different way.

But God isn’t like that, he’s not like us.  A truly murmured “Thank you,” for his gifts every day never fails to please him.  He never is tired of hearing our prayers, our prayers that are so repetitive in their essence, never tired of hearing our praises sung to him.  “Do it again,” he says.

I have tried to find little things that amaze me.  I have tried to shut out the loud, the busy, and to welcome the introspection and the quiet.  I’m not trying to isolate myself, I’m trying to discover the secret to living simply.

The toad’s pink tongue flashes out, and my mind isn’t fast enough to catch the movement, but the bug isn’t there in front of her any more.  Pimples doesn’t move.  She’s just there with her never turning gaze, her body sunk back comfortably on her haunches.   I love to hold her in the palm of my hand, and to look deep into her lazy eye, and to run my finger along the warts of her skin.  I know it sounds odd—maybe it sounds disgusting.  She amazes me.

I have seen a mountain, tall, its arm sloping down into the valley, clothed in a suffocating cloak of trees.  In Pennsylvania there are so many trees!  I want to see this mountain heave itself, breath… I almost expect the trees to suddenly fall off, and see a giant rise before my eyes, a giant that has slept for a long time.  The earth quivers and groans, and the mountains let some of their weight go.

I have also seen the mountains stretching down into the valleys, and the shadows of the clouds moving on their backs, dark, and deep.

I have been wakened by the single note of a bird calling clearly in the small hours of the morning.

I have felt a cold breeze in the morning, coming through the window, and moving over everything.  It says, “Rest,” and “Be still.”

And I know… I know that I am blessed.  How could I be anything but blessed?  I have been gifted with a capacity to know, feel, and appreciate these things that I have mentioned.  And I desire to return to the little things, and to marvel at the small things in life, to be small myself, small enough to stand in wonder of this beautiful thing called life.

Pre-Moving Thoughts

God’s victory means our defeat, means our humiliation; it means God’s mocking anger at all human arrogance, being puffed up, trying to be important in our own right. It means reducing the world and its clamor to silence; it means the crossing through of all our ideas and plans, it means the Cross. The Cross above the World. It means that man, even the noblest, must, whether he likes it or not, fall in the dust and with him all the gods and idols and lords of this world. The Cross of Jesus Christ, that means the bitter scorn of God in all human depths, the rule of God over the whole world.
The people came to victorious Gideon; it is the final clamor and the final temptation: ‘rule thou over us!’ But Gideon does not forget his history or the history of his nation… ‘God shall rule over you, and you shall have no other Lord.’ At these words the altars of the gods and the idols are cast down, all worship of man is cast down, all apotheosis of man by himself, they are judged, condemned, crossed out, they are all crucified and flung down into the dust by him who alone is Lord. And beside us kneels Gideon, the man who has been brought to faith out of the midst of fears and doubts, kneels before the altar of the one God, and with us Gideon prays: ‘Lord on the Cross, be thou alone our Lord. Amen.’ – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1933

I was sitting alone in Panera bread around 7:30 AM when I read this.  I had left the house an hour before to have study time.  In this tortuous storm of moving, I needed the quiet.  The morning air, the grogginess, even the cheap, bad tasting caramel latte. But it was all worth it.  This time was spent writing a letter to a dear friend, studying the Bible, and reading Bonhoeffer’s biography.  I knew I needed to wake up early this morning, even though it will be the first of two of the busiest days of this year.  Not to run away from what needed to be done, but to grab some time and in it, revert into peace and calm and good cheer.
I’ll be leaving the home I’ve lived in for ten years, and the area that I’ve lived my whole life in.  But strangely, I don’t feel nostalgic or anything.  I feel excited, eager, ready for a challenge and ready for an opportunity to embrace my challenge.  “But for those who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” – Malachi 4:2.  I feel like those fresh cows now, leaping with the vitality of life.  I was particularly encouraged by that passage of Bonhoeffer’s sermon up there.  To just be reminded: “It’s not about you.  Nothing is about you.  It’s all about God.  He is not only the reason everything is here, but the reason that everything is happening, and to him belongs the glory,” is not only convicting, but a great relief.  To keep things God-focused is hard at first, but after awhile, it becomes joy and relief.  To know that my sinful human self will not conquer.  It won’t conquer in the short run or in the long run.  I have given myself up to God once, but I do it again over and over, every day.  To say, Lord, lead us, guide us, be our God and our one Lord.   I have been encouraged to know that my strength is crushed, and that I must depend entirely upon God.  Even this knowledge strengthens me.
I will miss things about this house (mainly all the built in bookshelves) but it is amazing to me to see how at first I didn’t want to move, and now, because it is God’s will, he has brought my mind and my heart about face, and has confronted me, and graciously made me ready.

Another thing, before I close.  I was reading about Gideon today in Judges, and I noticed that when he’s getting ready to go down and defeat the Midianites & Amalekites, God commands him to go at once, but then says: “But if you are too afraid… go down to the camp tonight and listen to what they say.”  He knows Gideon’s weaknesses, and takes care of him.  He knows my weaknesses, and is compassionate and kind as he takes care of me and guides me.  He will do the same for you, if you trust in him.

Now, I tell myself, more than ever, seize the day!

P.S. If you haven’t noticed, please read the text below the header (Carpe Diem.)  It used to be a quote by C.S. Lewis— “Reason is the natural order of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning”—but I changed it to something more fitting for the purpose of this blog.

Scotland | Journal Excerpts |

There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there.  The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place; and I tried to trace such a journey in a story I once wrote.  It is, however, a relief to turn from that topic to another story that I never wrote. Like every other book I never wrote, it is by far the best book I have ever written.  It is only too probable that I shall never write it, so I will use it symbolically here; for it was a symbol of the same truth.  I conceived it as a romance of those vast valleys with sloping sides, like those along which the ancient White Horses of Wessex are scrawled along the flanks of the hills.  It concerned some boy whose farm or cottage stood on such a slope, and who went on his travels to find something, such as the effigy and grave of some giant; and when he was far enough from home he looked back and saw that his own farm and kitchen-garden, shining flat on the hillside like the colors and quarterings of a shield, were but parts of some gigantic figure, on which he had always lived, but which was too large, and too close to be seen.  – The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton, Introduction

Stories—that is how a reader is able to look at and analyze his or her life.  It is how I cope with mine.  That all this—the gypsy man on the street with the accordion—it’s all part of something bigger.  That the slightest thought is not without meaning or consequence.  Material things spark the train of the immaterial—the train of thought, the stretching line of feeling, and even those material things, like the man who made music, that tangible things has been inspired by an immaterial feeling. These are intricate parts of a story.  Looking at my own life teaches me how to write a story.  Let’s start at a new, important period of my life.  Okay.  Going to Scotland for seven weeks.  So that is the beginning of my story.  That is where I begin. Later we find out why, what brought it about.  Throughout the story we learn what we don’t know in the beginning—how this trip affects my life when it’s done.  How I change.  And thinking of that makes me aware of everything around me.  The people I meet.  The strange coincidences that urge me to record them, for reasons of their own.

I wonder how many “red herrings” I will write down. Probably none, because whatever I write I feel called to write.  Whatever the object it has struck me in a singular and subjective way, and that in and of itself makes it interesting and important, at least to me.

When I come out of the town’s center and start down the hill—which will eventually lead me up another hill—towards home, I can see yet another hill, higher than all the rest.  The very top of it is green, and its slope is brown—long, deep, furrows of brown that the tractor has been making all day.  And there is a group of trees that I can see beyond the roofs of the houses.  Their branches are dark against the misty ground and the cloud-swollen sky.  It’s November.  I want to climb that hill, and I almost don’t care that there’s a fence on it, marking it as someone’s property.  I have a desire in me and an urge to climb.  I feel it when I stand on my chair every morning to look out the window towards the North and see jagged, low mountains.  This thought in particular has been with me ever since I got here, and yet I don’t know what significance it has.  Maybe it doesn’t hold any significance, except as a defining point of my personality. But that’s the exciting things.  I’m going to find out, sooner or later.  And maybe when I do I won’t care anymore, but maybe it will bring on something exciting.  That’s how it happens in stories.  One thing leads to another.  And those are the things we tell about, so that when you think about it, nothing that happens in life is without importance.  We all have about one huge plot, and ten thousand subplots. A lot goes on that we don’t even think about. And all of it is flowing into the throbbing, pulsing blood of history.

What I Called Mine

My youth was what I called mine.  And more and more, I realize it never was.  As I grow older, I see it was only a part of me; something that defined me; but it never belonged to me, nor I to it.  It was something fleeting, something that gave me a glimpse of everything I would wish to be, and then threw me headlong into something like grief, and I saw it was gone. And suddenly I faced something much darker, and there were more shadows than before, but behind me was that bright light, and sometimes I looked over my shoulder at it, and reached out towards it.  But we never go back, because there is no going back. There is only forwards, and that’s the best we can do, just the next thing.

And O, I wish that I wasn’t quite so old.  Today in the store I saw an old friend of my family.  She worked at the hospital where I was born.  She asked me how old I was, and when I told her, she said: “Oh my, I never thought you would get that old.” “Well I certainly didn’t think I would either,” I said.  And we laughed, but my heart broke.

Even now my memory is fading, and with a kind of desperation I try to cling to something that loses itself, and I feel a dull kind of ache in place of it.

I’m still young, I’m still young.  There is still so much to learn, and ahead are years packed with new memories. But I am so hesitant to let go, so unwilling to part with something I always associated with truth and light and goodness and purity, so unwilling to walk steadily into the unknown.

Eyes wide open, full of images.  Ears filled with many sounds, and a heart so full I think it will break, mind open, thirsting for learning.  Soul reaching out with love, receiving love, binding itself to my Savior.  And from that perspective, I am blessed.  I might go mad, I might forget everything.  But how can I ever forget the essence of my life, the Redeemer of my soul? I can’t ever, and that is the important thing.  I am eternally bound.