The other day I saw a friend’s reference on Facebook to the Mary Chapin Carpenter song lyrics, “sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug”. Certainly many can relate to that!
I do right now, for sure. The idea that God’s way is not our way has never been more apparent to me than it is at this time. The last year and a half has been very difficult and seems only to be getting more so as time wears on. I know that all manner of things will be well…eventually. But for right now, there seem to be a lot of people dying a long dang ways away and a lot of need in the immediate area of finances.
I love St. Louis. I really do. It is basically temperate – regardless of the high humidity and heat combination, I am telling you all – it is temperate when compared to five+ months of hot and the ongoing desertification of North Central Texas. The growing season here is amazing. There are a lot of the same types of plants in North Central Texas but who knew some of these trees and bushes actually bloom when allowed to thrive in rainwater and moderate temps?
I love the idea that when the temperatures in St. Louis rise above 60 degrees, the streets are full of people. Parks, sidewalk cafes, people sitting on their stoops – having a “stoop” even! I love it. I love my old house. Most of all, I love the Mississippi River and the Arch. Top all that with some of the finest people I have ever had to pleasure to come to know and love, it is just a great place to live, regardless of stupid magazine articles.
But I have been so tired lately. I have not known what to do. Feelings of ineptitude, impotence have washed over me, making me weak and unsure of where I am headed. All the reasons why we came to St. Louis seemed to have evaporated above the multitude of trees into the beautiful blue skies.
I know that we are feeling the stress of loved ones lost to death. Knowing that it is a beginning of loss rather than an end makes the future seem dire. Being out of work adds to it, creating a negative sense of urgency. It allows us to wonder – what the hell are we doing? What have we done? Yet, always we are consciously aware that what we did was what we were supposed to do. And that all we have done can be claimed as good, regardless of what it seemed to be the cost.
But now, it almost seems as if there is a siren going off in the far distance, calling out to us…get up, go, it is time. Of course, whatever is calling is not giving a direction…just an order.
Mary Chapin Carpenter goes on to sing, “Sometimes it all comes together, sometimes you’re gonna lose it all.” Sunday’s gospel spelled it out basically the same way. (Luke 9:51-62) I know beyond a doubt that we were called and continue to be called by God to live our lives according to God’s will. I know that sometimes we try to plow a straight line but forget and look back over our shoulders and the row goes all wacky. I know that sometimes we get attached to the things that hold us in place too long. It is so much easier to stay in a job that seems god-less and toxic than it is to say, “take this job and shove it, I ain't workin' here no more.” A salary is a very nice thing to have, as is insurance.
I have been on the margins for as long as I can remember. It is from there that my voice most often spoke. It was from there that people were able to respond. There are a lot more people on the margins that most (even those there) will ever realize. Yet in these last five years, I have found the comfort of the middle stream, floating comfortably along with the current, feeling safe. And if not “happy”, at least I was not anxious about the day to day worries associated with money. Bills were being paid, everyone in our house was basically healthy and if we weren't, at least two of us had insurance. That is…until…until the jagged rocks popped up in the middle of the channel, catching me unaware, to change it all.
Perhaps that is what my unrest is all about – the reality of the precarious nature of our very being has slapped me full in the fact, not once or twice but several times.
This week past was such an extraordinary week – my unemployment kicked in, rescuing us from the brink of some serious problems; Texas Senator Wendy Davis managed to ignite the flames of unrest with her dogged determination to disrupt unethical practices by a convoluted Texas Legislature; and then, the Supreme Court said that section 4 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The “gutting” of the Voting Rights Act can actually been seen as an extraordinary event – it served to cause a lot of sometimes far too quiet people to stand up in outrage. That is a very good thing and will be needed if the US Congress does as the Supreme Court told them to do – fix the VRA so that it works properly. And then there was Pride. Pride celebrations were held all over the nation in the month of June but few that I have seen (online rather than in person) can compare with the elation of St. Louis Pride this year in particular. City buildings lit up in rainbow lights, gay pride flags flying throughout the downtown area, thousands upon thousands of people in downtown to express their support of their LGBT brothers and sisters and in celebration of the DOMA ruling.
All of these things happened from the edge…the margins. I watched intently from 8:30-ish p.m. to well past midnight on the evening of Wendy Davis’ stand against Rick Perry. I read of the Texas Legislature’s immediate response to the VRA’s gutting as they began plans to redistrict. And of course, the district that voted Wendy Davis into office is one of those areas to undergo remapping. I was up and glued to the SCOTUSblog the morning of the DOMA and Prop 8 decision. And I was in the midst of all the Pride events, working the Faith Aloud booth on Saturday, walking in the parade with the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri on Sunday, and later just enjoying the excitement of a large group of people elated at the current state of affairs. All of these things from the margin…not the mainstream…
I have been too long doing things that were not in my gifts set; skill sets, maybe, but gifts, no. I have forgotten that God gave me the gift of speaking out when others cannot or do not feel able. I have been afraid to write for fear of offending; forgetting that offense taken is often not the problem of the one supposedly causing the offense. As a friend of mine used to tell me – rather often, actually – “Honey, it ain’t always about you.”
Besides that, not writing what I am called to write doesn’t make a whit of difference to those making decisions – people will make the decisions that they will make – regardless. But my lack of writing harms me, makes me timid, makes me fearful, makes me stay silent. Silence is no one’s friend. And it makes me seek comfort.
I cannot do what God calls me to do from the middle of the stream…not even from the Via Media. I am not called to see both sides. I may not always be on the same side (yeah, I probably will be) but I can’t stand in the middle. I am called to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” How can I do that from the middle? Others may have an answer for that but I don’t see one for me…at least not at this moment.
So, who knows where this pull will lead me? Who knows the works intended but God? I don’t even know if I am ready. I just know that I had to write all of this.
But I do have to say, putting this all in writing and onto the blog, scares me half to death. If not that many people see it, does it still count?