Love is always reaching for more

In his book, My Bright Abyss, Christian Wiman writes:

“In any true love—a mother’s for her child, a husband’s for his wife, a friend’s for a friend—there is an excess energy that always wants to be in motion. Moreover, it seems to move not simply from one person to another but through them, toward something else. This is why we can be so baffled and overwhelmed by such love: it wants to be more than it is; it cries out inside of us to make it more than it is. And what it is crying out for, finally, is its essence and origin: God.”

I don’t believe we, as humans, can get enough love. We certainly can’t offer each other enough of it, which is why we need God. I feel this need in my son when I lay down next to him in his twin bed after tucking him in for the night. We take each other in our arms and talk about the day and say things reserved for whispered conversations in the moonlight. He wants me to rub his back and sing to him “his song”—the simple tune I made up for him when he was a baby. I do as he asks and then move to pull away, feeling the call of my own bedtime ritual of time with my husband, a hot bath and a good book. But Isaac wants more. He always wants more. Even a child who is well-loved is insatiably hungry for more.

It is baffling and overwhelming, as Wiman states, to feel the way love is always reaching for more. As a mother who seeks to meet all her child’s needs, it is humbling as well. I turn to God, then, (if God is the essence and origin of love) as my only hope to ultimately and eternally satisfy.

 

Facing Change

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I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.
Flannery O’Connor

I am immensely grateful for my life. My husband is a talented, intelligent man who makes me laugh and is committed to growing with me in our relationship. I have two beautiful, healthy children who inspire me daily with their unbridled joy and wonder. I get paid for work I love, work that challenges me intellectually and spiritually. And yet there are days when I want it all to change. I want a new job, a different boss, more time to write, fewer committee meetings. I want my husband to be less cynical. I want my children to stop fighting, to stop yelling, “STOP!” I want things to change and I want them to stay the same. Every day is like this.

A poem by Randall Jarrell struck me today. Called Next Day, the poem shares a woman’s thoughts as she reflects on her life the day after attending a friend’s funeral. Here is an excerpt:

Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,

My husband away at work—I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them.  As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing.

I understand this fear of change, especially the change that comes with growing older. I feel the desire to slow life down when I sit on the back porch with my kids eating ice cream cones, then watch as they kick off their socks to gallop barefoot through the grass. I don’t want any of this to change. I don’t want to lose what is so precious.

But I also find change exciting. Something new is around the corner and I am curious, eager to see what this change will bring; A new and better version of myself? A new phase in my relationship with my husband? A new challenge at work? A new joy as a parent of rapidly growing children? While Christians refer to Christ as the solid rock on which we stand and sing about an unchanging God, Buddhists teach that all is groundless and that we must grow comfortable with change as our constant reality. As much as I would be comforted by the belief that God doesn’t change, I find myself agreeing more with the Buddhists.

So how can I live faithfully, wisely, attentively, comfortably in the face of all this change?  Maybe as Flannery O’Connor does in taking it all as a blessing, but with one eye squinted.

 

[Feature Image: Stephen Thomas]

 

Quiet

2005121700_ballerinaMy husband was the first to disturb Her. He loped around the house, snored in great huffs at night, captured me in conversation at the dinner table.  As my marriage unfolded, She sulked in the corner of my life, moody and listless, still catching snatches of time over a morning cup of coffee or after he had gone to bed.  She and I used to dance all the time, bodies pressed together in ecstasy, the feel of her made my mind explode with ideas, dreams, fantasy places.  I could go anywhere in her hush.

When my first child was pulled, wet and bloody, from the womb She looked on in horror.  After the mucus was sucked from his mouth and nose he screamed and She walked out. I’d look for her, late at night, as I woke every few hours to put the baby to my breast.  I’d listen for her in the wind of the trees as my husband and I pushed the stroller around the cul-de-sac. But the reality of my life kept her away.

My second child stayed in my womb as long as she could, refusing to come (as she still does) when the doctor called.  Perhaps she sensed the noise of my life and preferred to dance with her Quiet in the security of my womb.  So they put me to sleep, a mask over my nose and mouth, a needle in my spine, and I drifted away.  I dreamed I was with Quiet again, sitting on the porch as the sun went down, watching the sky turn orange, blush rose, blue, and then black.  We snacked on almond slivers, the crunch between my teeth the only sound breaking our reverie.  Slipping between the cool sheets of the bed, my legs kick out wide, glorifying in the freedom of all that space.

When I awoke, another mouth to feed lay swaddled in her crib beside my bed.  I leaned forward to catch a glimpse of baby girl, my stomach shrieking in protest.  Her eyes bobbed beneath her closed eyelids and the tiny holes in her nose widened with each breath.  She sucked on her lower lip as if chewing on a good dream.  I imagined she was dreaming of the Quiet she knew once too.  Filled with new love I whispered over her head, “Don’t worry, baby girl, you’ll find Her again one day.”

I lay back down to contemplate the noise of my now-crowded life.  I couldn’t ask for more, yet I wanted less.  I was fully alive, yet dead tired.

I would learn to dance with the riches of my new life.  I would come to treasure the cacophony of giggles that filled my house.  I would never live in regret.  But Quiet is my home, my peace, my muse.  I shall stalk Her like a madman.  I shall pursue Her like the one lost sheep.  I shall fret over Her like the mother whose baby has wandered away.  And I will find Her…as we all do…in the end.