I have pulled the cat out from under the bushes three times now and scolded him. The rhodedendron is alive with the click-click warning of the juncos who have unaware fledglings among its branches and no tolerance for sleepy cats, no matter how disinterested. Something about their click-click-clicking has made me melancholy. Perhaps I hear in it the echoes of the world's impotence, the helpless droning dispiritedly for salvation.
I've all but banned the radio news from the house these days. I am avoiding headlines. I cannot bear the news of any more war or rape or prejudice or ignorance.
A few days ago we watched an amazing documentary on Desmond Doss, a WWII medic who refused, because of his faith, to kill anyone or carry a weapon. The man was a superhero and I do not say that lightly. Read his story or watch the movie. Your kids should know about this man. I was terribly convicted by his faith. Doss was not a complicated man. In fact, he uncomplicated everything by simply believing he knew the right thing to do and doing it no matter how hard it became. "Thou shalt not kill," was all the instruction he needed to decide how to live.
I am not quite so good at unwinding myself from complication.
I confess it grieves me to be so often at odds with my evangelical brothers and sisters, the ones who gave me my start in faith, the ones who even now almost always reach out to me in love and acceptance. I do not know how to find balance between our mutual love and worship of Jesus and our disparate worldviews.
I read blogs and follow links friends post on facebook, I try to understand the logic, the doctrine that provides the justification of so many things that seem plainly abhorrent to me. I make myself think of the whole person, their goodwill, their humanity. And then if I have any grace left in me at all, I turn inward and remind myself that I too, am a patchwork of inconsistencies, a tangle of sin and good intention.
I cook six vegetarian meals a week because I believe it is kinder and healthier for all my neighbors if we eat more simply, and then I agonize over the one package of hot dogs I buy for my sons, torn between my refusal to condone the cruelty of the meat industry and the need to love and honor my children. I read everything I can on nonviolence, on peace-making, on circumventing violence and war and then I drive my family to a movie theater and watch "super heroes" bash and beat and slaughter each other. I research the horrors of a world saturated with plastic and find I run out of resistance after about a month and rebelliously grab that clamshell of baby spinach because I am just tired of thinking so much. I am hard on myself, too hard. There is something in me that must strive towards integrity. The inside of me, the part that believes, must have reconciliation with the outside of me who acts.
So maybe I am not nearly hard enough.
When I feel this kind of knotting, I often have to write about it, to work it out in words. That seems to settle me. And somehow, it helps me find grace again. For myself, and for everyone else. Maybe that's what I want to say at the end of this introspection. This space should never be about convincing others as much as it should be about finding a way to live with others. Looking for the shady hollows of grace between the harsher suns of words and action.
As William Stafford said,
"I cherish the esteem of those around me, and voice my protest in such a way as to reconcile rather than to offend..."
When I cease to cherish, to seek reconciliation, then I will stop writing here.
And again I am reminded that the complications will not unwind easily:
Just now, as I finish these words, the cat has come around the corner with a fledgling in its mouth. The juncos are scolding me from the tree tops. I am begging for grace.