Sunday, September 17, 2006

Being

I was just reading Job.

"Why does the Almighty not set times for judgement? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?"

There's a LOT of insanity floating around in the stratosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere. Some men, formerly thought to have been solid, stand-up guys, have gone off their nut and decided to do things that threaten their families' safety, well-being, livelihoods. Some people have made bad choices, others have been on the receiving end of crummy genes and then compounded their rotten luck with bad choices. This makes for an odd soup--and not much fun for the minors. It makes me want to engage in a good old-fashioned smack down. You know, to help handle the evil-doers. I have a surplus of righteous indignation these days.

So what is up with this? Does every generation have to leave it's own sad mark on it's children? It reminds me of the story about the man who grew up with an alcoholic father beating on him. The man became a father himself, also an alcoholic. The man thought he was a good father because he didn't hit his kids. They saw him in a drunken stupor often, but he had risen to his own expectations and didn't see that he wasn't the dad his kids needed. What mattered to him was that he wasn't hitting his kids--this made him a better father than he'd had.

Do you see how the logic is full of holes? Just because a person isn't as bad as another doesn't make that person righteous. Being a lesser evil doesn't justify one's life. I believe that it is imperative that we individuals be willing to rise to the expectations of One who knows what we can be, not just the mess we are prone to be as a result of our particular nature/nurture combination (plus that zero entropy thing again--sheesh). How else can we expect to succeed on any level as parents? As citizens of this planet?

The sins of the fathers (and mothers) surely are visited on the successive generations. It will be this way until we don't live here anymore. Perhaps those of us who wish for something better might strive for higher goals in more tangible ways. Parenting classes, brain function seminars, books, good friends, counselors of many stripes (clergy, our own parents, psychologists, etc.) all things/people which can prop us up in our journey. Are we afraid to admit that we don't know it all? That we seem to be the only ones who didn't get the handbook in our "Here's What You'll be Wondering About When Everyone Else Seems to Have It Together" kit at birth?

Goodness, people!!

Some of us need desperately, in order to redeem any vestiges of our souls, to apologize, long and hard and repeatedly. Some of us need to realize that though we deserve to hear such apologies, we never will, and? We will be okay anyway. It is time for the lot of us to get on up and get over ourselves. Take your meds, figure out what you need for vitamins, supplements, sleep, shoulder(s) to cry on, go for a nice walk or run in the rain. I don't care what you need to do to cope (within reason, obviously). Just do it, already. (This includes myself--this post is partly a pep talk for moi. Thank you for your patience.)

Boy. I guess in looking around, I just find it hard to take that we're all such a mess, that we can dog on ourselves but not see the same issues in others, and we seem to be continuing that middle or high school nonsense of believing that we're the only ones with any sort of problems (or the reverse: we're perfect and everyone else is the problem). What? You're in your mid-thirties (go with me, here) and you're still wishing you had Susie Cheerleader's hair? C'mon. Really? Or now your kids are hassling you--they've developed ideas of their own (pesky little people anyway) and aren't quite conforming to what you thought you'd have for kids. So? How about the spouse? The belly/stretch marks/thighs/toothpaste cap protocol making you buggy? What's your point? "If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." Your spouse is likely no better or worse than the sweet/cute/hunky person you think has it all together and, as a result, would never leave the toothpaste cap rolling around on the counter. I mean really, can you imagine?

Are we not yet to a place wherein we can acknowledge that there's enough crap to go around without having to make up more? There will always be people looking to ravage some little country and rape and pillage and use WMDs. Do we need to behave in that same way within our own families? In case you haven't gotten it yet, once you bring a little person onto the planet, it is so not about you. Gird up your loins, yank up those bootstraps, and stop it, already. Your babies and their babies unto the seventh generation need you to do better, be better than simply failing to beat them. They deserve everything you never had in the way of needs being met. And, even more, they deserve to have the parents they need, not simply the minimum we can provide them as we pause for further navel-gazing, rapt in our own self-pity.

When faced with a moment of panic, the urge to turn away because I'm in too deep, unable to figure out the quagmire at my feet, the emotion and complexity of a particular moment with one of my kids (or any number of other interpersonal situations), I've found that the only thing that works is to breathe a prayer and step off that cliff into the mess. Dive down deep. It is part of being human. It's a dirty business. A profoundly sticky, messy, even bloody business. But it is Why We Are Here.

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse.

Becoming human is a lifelong journey, during which we have to be willing to have our corners knocked off, the fur worn off our velveteen ears, to love and be loved without reserve, no matter the perceived cost. It requires humility and a willingness to be where we are regardless of how it looks to anyone else. It means that we must stop believing that everyone else has something better. It means we must be willing to acknowledge and revel in the glory that is, right where we are.

It is very, very hard. It is almost impossible to do this well. But don't you remember? All things worth doing well are hard. And the rewards for yourself are astounding, even more are those for your offspring. Clear out unto the seventh generation. Perhaps beyond.

If you are someone struggling in this, I heartily recommend The Blessing, The Traveler's Gift, and keeping a gratitude journal. Please, please don't let another minute go by without acknowledging how important this is. If you can't step outside of yourself for your own happiness, go peep in at your sleeping babies and do it for them. If you can't do it for your own, do it for mine. I need you to do what you can to make this corner of the universe a safer place for my kids to grow up. I have great expectations for this next generation, but they won't make it entirely on their own.

Also? We, the current adults, are not alone in our journeys. We have each other and our Creator. We will encourage one another and expect miracles. We will be astounded regularly at the beauty surrounding us.

Last week, as the kids and I were sitting in traffic, singing rounds of "Where is Thumbkin?" we glanced to the left to see the most spectacular rainbow I have ever been privileged to spy. It was a full bow, with more than a hint of a double to it's right, the second having wider bands, almost double itself. Up at the top of the full rainbow, the arch was nearly full of smaller ribbons of color, repeating themselves on the vertical. As we crept around the bend in the freeway, the color of the sunset bouncing off low clouds cast a toasted, blushing peach color over everything. The wetness of the trees and grass, the river, the traffic, all glowed as if lit by the hands of heaven. We were still singing, softly, in rounds, for the first time ever, struggling to keep the melodies running without blending into the next person's voice. The sun shot white gold rays through distant clouds at the horizon and dropped behind the mountains, no doubt shy after such a flagrant display.

My days leave me tired, sometimes without seeming to have much opportunity for recharging, for taking the spiritual nectar and leaving the pith, for even swallowing at all. But in the middle of the crazy, chaotic stretches of hours, the still small voice whispers, the piercing loveliness is there to be had, if only I will stop. Breathe. Acknowledge that it exists. Even with the spilled ketchup, the stalled traffic, I can have a space of bliss with my kids. I can be temporarily blind to the fights they've just had, overlook the complications for a few minutes, and just be with them.

At a certain wedding, the pastor talked about Christianity being all about being with your friends. That it was what Jesus was about here on earth. The being. This, I would venture, is what our Creator wants to have with us. The being together. Perhaps our time here is a trial run? Perhaps we can get past our discomfort at our own inabilities and get on with things?

My oldest prays at bedtime, "thank you for this beautiful, beautiful world," and in the next sentence asks for special help for those suffering in floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis. He is good at seeing what God has made in the midst of destruction and irretrievable loss. He knows that it's true: we are all broken, lacking in velvet, a mess, yes. But it is not all that we are.

Be more. Choose that.

May you rest well and rise renewed. I know you need your rest. You have those kids who run you ragged. :o)

5 comments:

The Tutor said...

Thank you.

Be at peace.

Under the Sky said...

Oh Carrie,

You are so inspiring. Thank you for allowing God to speak through you to me today.

Warmly,
Kate

~ V ~ said...

I heard a speaker last year who stated we should not expect our children to be just as good/educated as us. We show them where we are, hoist them up on our shoulders, and equip them to reach beyond.

The children of this world need more strong shoulders on which to stand.

Old Dominion Heather said...

I have been thinking of the Velveteen Rabbit and the meaning of life all day...thanks to you.

really...thanks.

Marie said...

Interesting view on the alcholic father. One of my fave (not Christian) bloggers, One Child Left Behind, said just that. His dad drank and beat; he just drinks.