Saturday, September 26, 2009

Numbers




Jack Gordon calls it “free” because that’s how old he is. More than two but less than four. Numbers have always been something of an anathema to me, if only because they are so non-visual—five what? Seventeen what? And once I know what, I am so much more interested in that. 58 sparrows in a bush (but you can only see 14). How many are invisible? All the numbers are invisible—but a bush full of birds…




And then there are those numbers that are extraordinary, yet troublesome. Take that number 3. In my world this is an eternal symbol of God, the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 3 in 1. See what I mean?
            
Number 3 somehow leaves number 2 out altogether, and hooks up with 1, not making four, but rather just alienating number 2. The way kids do when the play date is a threesome. Someone perpetually wailing because they are left out. And then, to make things even more difficult, those who are hooked up together actually become 2 and the first number 2 becomes 1. One all alone. All alone.
     
CS Lewis in his book Miracles, describes being friends with two other writers. He liked one of the gentlemen better than the other and the one troublesome friend was perpetually hogging the conversation and time with the gentleman he preferred. In these situations it is hard not to wish the troublesome person away. And if that person happens to, say, die—it might at first seem in a small way like a boon.
     
And so it happened, but to Lewis’s dismay, he found the one he wished away brought out things in his other friend that he could not. That now, there would be no possible way to bring out these things because the essential ingredient was missing. Great loss. A loss greater than 1.
     
Think how sideways Golgotha would have been had either of the two hanging beside Jesus gone missing.
     
Essential then is each 1. In fact, vital we are, each to another. Shall we say, one needs one another.
     
Mostly I like ones. They come with names, not numbers. And they make faces at me on the bus. I love those two ones below. They are trying not to do three with me, their Auntie. Too late. We share some genes. Wait till I give you the low down on what love does to numbers...


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3 comments:

Craig and Bethany said...

Reminds me of how invisible numbering our days is. Each one lined up, one in front of the next, it's hard to see more than just the next domino-day. An opaque silhouette of one. Then, somehow having every previous day stored up inside of us settles into the present moment defining it like the smell of home.

Pig Woman said...
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Pig Woman said...
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