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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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Unknown





There are two types of knowing.

First, things I know that I don’t know: how to say plum blossom in Chinese or how to make notes drop like pearls from the piano, or why my mama died of ovarian cancer.

These are more like limitations. Ignorance acknowledged.

Then there are the things that I don’t know that I don’t know. Unknown unknowns. Not even possibilities. A whole sky of darkness surrounding something just as tenebrous.
     
Searching all night for an unknown absence is not only futile, but why would I be out looking in the first place?

As a naïve art student, an art professor told me to mix red and green paint, I had not ever in my life considered the possibility of grey. GREY! I had not been looking for grey. Yet there is was. Pure neutrality between the bright stars. Knowledge. Oh had I only known! Painting shadows will never be the same.

The unknown unknowns—black ice hiding on the road. Innocently taking your foot off the gas, who knew anything else would happen, other than slowing down. The desperate and horrible wreckage of what no one had reason to consider…

And yet there are other unknown unknowns. Goodness that arrives unannounced—sudden enlightenments that retain so much mystery they can only be called miracles.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Molecules Bump


         
My husband tells me how molecules bump together. That rock I toss in the lake shoves out a ripple that doesn’t stop when it reaches land. Bump against nudge, it continues through the densest bedrock.

Around the whole world it goes, eventually arriving back smaller but persistent like memory.
     
I’m thinking about words and the rhyme “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
      
The impact hits me every time I read it. How can something so true be such a lie?

Of course, no one tries to be an irascible fool, blurting out blatant untruths. No, it’s the double entrendre. That other meaning you forgot to think about. That sarcastic edge you didn’t realize was hiding under the period.
     
Think more, talk less. They say body language speaks the loudest of all. Ah yes, who can forget that first kiss! But so little of our lives take place in person.
       
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Bending Water



Water bends over the edge toward the next thing in its path, the way my man gets on a plane and flies to Boise. Absence: a kind of free fall.
     
No longer able to hold tight, to touch lips, time and space fill the days and nights. An interjection of sky between us takes the watery way our lives flow together and turns everything white.
     
He tells me white water is the most dangerous kind. A body can no longer float in turbid water, the base of a waterfall being the easiest place to drown. He says you have to crawl along the bottom out to where it clears.
     
Bubbles gradually rise toward Wednesday, when he returns.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Impossible Nothing



Jesus had just been asked by the disciples why they couldn't cast out a demon.

He tells them ..."because of your little faith...if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you."

Nothing will be impossible for you.

I've always imagined that to mean I actually could move mountains, that it is in the realm of possibilities for a believer.

But. What if Jesus meant that if anyone has true but small faith it will soon be impossible for them to DO nothing—

that having even small faith means it will be impossible for me to see need and DO NOTHING.

Have you felt that way? Someone else has called it being ruined. Something breaks inside and you can no longer stand on the sidelines. Faith breaks the heart and NOTHING never looks the same again.

No more giving up. No more doing nothing.
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