Friday, June 15, 2012

God is Far Away

Sometimes God seems very far away.  So far away that sometime, just sometimes, God doesn't seem possible.  Times like this are lonely times.  So lonely that God doesn't even seem to be part of the life I live.  Seems like a nice fairy tale that children can believe, and then one day, "poof"  it's gone.  There is no tooth fairy.  Santa Claus is a big hoax and God, too went over the bridge with the Billy Goats.  Sometimes it's just too hard to believe.  I mean, really, He came back to life, He's three things all at the same time, He exits everywhere and is in everything.  Come on!

 I remember the day I discovered there was no Santa Claus.  My brother and I were minding the truck that was there to receive the fresh harvested wheat.  It was summer and we were goofing around waiting for the combine to come with a fresh load of new wheat.  For some reason Santa Claus became the topic.  The bomb dropped and I lost a little bit of childhood magic.  My brother said things like, "come on, sis, how could he be over the whole world on the same night?  How could he come down the chimeny?  Think about it."   I cried.  It was so lovely to believe.   

Faith in God starts out a little bit like faith in Santa Claus.  It's perfect and simple and magic.  At least that was how it was for me.  I was a teenager at a youth rally.  I was called, (at the same time quite remarkably, as my best friend), to the alter.  There, we were anointed with faith and the journey began. 

Since then, and probably even before then, I've never not believed.  I just get so screwed up.  What does this mean?  What does that mean?  Does that mean I have to behave like that?  Faith has really screwed up a lot of people.  Wars and terrible terribles have happened because of Faith.  And, guess what?  It's all been because of faith in God.  Everybody seems to have a different God than I do and everybody seems to understand their God way better than I. 

Sometimes I get this overwhelming peace that "passeth understanding," and I recognize it as God.  But other times, when I really need it.  When I really, really need it.    I get nothing.  Nothing at all.  No peace, no promise, no comfort.  Nothing.  I wait and I listen.   Nothing.  Then I wonder.  Do I really believe?  Am I just an imposter?  Am I just hoping for my stocking to be filled when I already know the truth about Santa Claus?

It's been a long time.  Jed as a quadriplegic.  Many prayers, many anointments, many everythings, trying to get him better, but he's really no better.  He still can't.  I get tired.  Ubaldo gets tired.  But, oh, how Jed must get tired of being who he isn't.   He isn't a man who can't.  He isn't a man who needs to ask.  He isn't a man who cries out in pain.  But right now he is. 

This is the time when we need God.  We need to know God is with us, but sometimes, when it gets especially dark and painful, that's when God seems very far away.  It seems like we're doing this alone and damn it, God.  That just doesn't seem fair. 

So, here we are, him quite well medicated, sleeping soundly, me, pondering the reality of faith while at the same time sipping Brandy and dreaming about slot machines.  I heard a song once that went something like this, "God, I wanna have a beer with you....."  It went on an on about the one day when the singer and God would sit down and have a chat about, "life and the way things are...," but the chat would be with an unjudgemental beer and a friendly exchange.  That's the God I want.  I want God to be my friend.  I want Him to love me in spite of all my weaknesses and doubts.  I want him to be my friend. 

He is.  He is my friend, because even now, as I ponder His nonexistence, drink brandy and dream of slot machines, He comforts me because I need it.  Friends are like that. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

What We Do Matters

Today was a remarkable day. 

Teachers wonder often if what we do makes a difference.  Probably most people do.  Today we got validated.  Both of us, Jed and I. 

Teachers spend their lives opening up to hundreds, if not thousands of children during a long career.  Day after day trying to see into a child and know their needs.  Day after day knowing that with just a little more effort, a little more understanding, a little more patience, a little more encouragement, a little more faith...a child might grasp. 

Through the years the faces and the stories begin to blurr, and then only a few stand out in that weary teacher's mind.  They're remembered because they are remarkable.  My handful of memories are the boys, the ones who didn't fit, the ones who wanted to sing, but were forbidden, the ones who screamed and thrashed in a world only they were in, the ones who loved trains more than lunch.  I tried to make their lives mold.  I tried to mold to them.  I sang with them, and restrained them when the world around them was too ugly.  Never knowing if it mattered. 

But today, one of those boys walked up to me as a man and told me I made a difference.  I hugged him, even though he resisted, and we talked ever so briefly about from whence we've both come and to where we hope to go.  I felt rich.  He left behind a note, "thank you, from the bottom of my heart."  I was validated.  The validating moment was brief, and life went on, but I will always be different because of that visit. 

The work day was over and I came home to our life.  On my desk was a small package from our neice who has recently graduated.  I didn't open it right away, because I was quite sure it would be a picture, and even though I would enjoy that, there seemed no hurry. 

As the day wore on, I opened the letter and package.  My brother's granddaughter, who we have seen only at family reunions, had written a book!  Really, a real book!  Stuff I dream of!  A book.  And she acknowledged her Uncle Jed.  I mean, even her dad or grandparents weren't officially acknowledged, but Jed was.  I cried.  Rachael remembered.  Family reunions would be wrought with many a memory, but Rachael's included Jed's remarkable stories he would tell to the gathered clan.  She remembered his character and gave him printed credit as the. "storyteller."   He too, was validated today. 

What we do does make a difference.  We don't know when, or with who, or even how.  I suppose if we did we'd become terribly hard to live with, but as long as we're doing the stuff that good people do, we will make a difference.  And, if we a lucky, one day, we will learn just what it was.