Friday, September 23, 2011


Faith does not stay the same. I used to believe that the period when I first met Christ was the moment of my truest self, the way I was meant to be. That honeymoom period cannot not last. Sadly, I chastised myself for eventual my lack of fervor, my apathy, as if it depended on my motivation.
God indeed does become bigger as we grow older, as Lewis said. When I was young, my faith was a rubber courage a ever swelling place of devotion attentive. There was a place I found secure, and soon familiar, where we could talk about whatever was on my heart.  There were holy stretches of silence, and moments of inner sureity.
But God does not stay the same to my eyes. His leading is always asking me to look and look again, for he says, " I am This"..."but I am also This, and This, and This."  God does not change, not in the way we think of change, but the only way for us to know Him is to turn and turn, for He is too big for us to see Him entirely. And I wanted so to know that same place I had first found, to be able to rely on it, but I could not, and it was like sand. The purpose of any place with Him is to leave us thirsty, to watch it fade, lest we become lovers of place and not of a person.
And then there is the silence, the quiet, the vaccuum, the empty pause, with no indication of anything safe or sure, except that He is. That silence has a whole new meaning once our baby steps have turned to walking.
I still struggle as I dread the silence, knowing at times it is my noise which hides Him. But even in this I am not allowed to look inward in self condemnation, I must instead trust, and not think too much.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

Lists.  I think maybe this weekend has been about lists.

Our church had six feet of water in the basement from Hurricane Lee. Since I had cleaned up a flood before, when our townhouse was inundated in '96, I figured I had best go down and help out, but it was a challenge. I knew it would be bad.

The church: The kitchen and its contents, all the Head Start materials and furniture, the Brownies' supply closet, the five or so antique sewing machines we used to make quilts for charity, the quilting supplies and fabric, the quilting tables, the Youth Room and its contents...all destroyed. My first list.

The recall that followed was not so bad, but here it is. Our home: Our wedding cards in an album, all the living room furniture, books, a bookshelf made by my grandfather, carpeting, a picnic basket, cross stitch projects, photographs, various wedding gifts never used ( an electric skillet, a crock pot, who knows what else), framed pictures. My second list.
There was likely more, but you forget. We moved some of it before the water came in.

I had forgotten the smell, but not the piles of debris, the overturned furniture, the endless chore of moving the sludge,  yards of trash bags, the layers of gloves. I had also forgotten that flood mud does not come out. I'm pretty sure my boots are done. My work clothes, I had planned to throw out anyway.  My third list.

Enough about that. Do you remember what you were doing September 11th at 9:37 am?
I do, vividly. I was sitting across from one of my students in Autistic Support doing math with him.
Someone came into our room and whispered it to the teaching assistant. Her face went white.
She told us, not the kids. I kept on teaching, because I figured there was nothing else I could do. I prayed, too, without words.
Staff flocked to the library to watch the TV. I did not. I just wanted to focus on the kids. Soon enough parents came, and we shut down, and we went home. The import did not reach me until I saw the news that afternoon.
My co-worker had a neice who lived in Jersey. The neice lost her husband. She was five months pregnant with their second child.
We taught and cried in that classroom, over and over again, for about two months.
When I thought I was finished crying, I would cry again. And the tales of bravery and providence and grief just kept coming.
That was how it went.

I do not think our country will ever be finished with that list...the list of the dead, the list of the martyrs, the list of the stories that just keep appearing. Rubble settles, dust dissipates, and stories come to the surface.
I cannot link floods and 9/11, except that we each have stories to tell.

We go back to the places of pain, to honor or to help, risking the fresh bruising, trusting in another moment of strength. The strength that makes heroes of ordinary, anonymous people...the strength which pulls beauty from stories from debris...turns a cross into a crown.
Is there any other list? Any other story to tell?