Clarification of the previous post. Perhaps something of envy. I’ve dreamed of Christ many times. The image above is the closest I can get to what I experience. He’s far away, otherwise engaged, but he gives me the merest glance, as if to say, “I see you. Keep working at it.”
When I was younger, I thought he was also telling me that I had a role to play, that it was okay, and that we’d meet up later.
Now I’m not young. I struggle with everything. I’ve been given this one gift of the thing I can do, which is to see connections and to write about them with all my heart. But it costs me part of my ordinary humanity. I am always at one remove from everyone, including the people who are closest in my life.
On the one hand I have a vision of beauty, the intertwining of all life in a divine symphony of meaning and brilliant harmony. On the other hand, I am a recluse with no ability to touch and truly feel the people I love the way I think I should. I do love them. But I am always across the room watching from the corner, just as He is always across the horizon, sparing me an occasional, ambiguous nod.
I don’t know if he’s telling me that this is my place — a witness and scribe of creation’s gorgeous intricacy — or if he’s telling me to drop it all in favor of personal salvation, for my own soul’s sake. I’m not panicking, though.
How I’ve worked it out so far, which could be completely and utterly wrong. You know the old old question which is supposed to flummox Christian apologists: Why do bad things happen to good people?
Two answers come to mind, leaving aside the fact that mostly we’re none of us so good that we deserve no travail. First, it’s a phony question, invariably raised by people who do not fundamentally believe in God. They may profess faith, but they do not believe in an afterlife. If something doesn’t make sense in their own experience before death, all experience is meaningless. They’re atheists who want God to make sense of the interval between first and last breath BY THEM. Demanding children stomping their feet.
If there is meaning, it will ultimately be revealed. Just not in the nursing home or the funeral parlor. Maybe after. After death gives way to resurrected life.
Second, we all come into life burdened by the legacies of family, parents, bruising personal experience and a host of inherited sins. We’re supposed to learn. We’re supposed to take the gift of our splinter of divine consciousness and learn to be better. Loss is supposed to center us. Guilt is supposed to remake us. Love and its fading is supposed to make us appreciate love more rather than less. Time is the enemy. The stretching out of feeling, made thinner and thinner until it breaks. It’s not supposed to break.
We’re never supposed to believe that we have it figured out. We’re supposed to be thinking all the time. There’s no Home on the Parcheesi board of life. Doubt and questing are flip sides of the same phenomenon. It’s called being conscious. Which is the overwhelmingly huge gift Christianity gave Mankind. Never meant to torment us. But only to make every moment of life life, thrillingly and passionately intense. And all aimed at aiming us toward the good. Because the shutting down, the surrender to darkness and unthinking and poisonous despair, is the real definition of evil.
So I’m content to wait for the dream in which he finally says “I am here.” He knows, as I do, that it will be the moment when I’m finally ready to end this phase and go on to the next.
P.S. Bet you never thought this was a religious song.