To mark the lengthening days of Lent, I've been participating in the Lenten photo-a-day challenge on rethink church; silence was today's prompt. Tonight in the silence I was double-shadows against the fence, but the camera didn't capture those nearly well enough, so here's the alley thoroughfare.
A couple weeks ago my Facebook status update got a few comments:
Blog readers and Facebook "likes" have become such a major concern (distress, devastation) because I'd imagined maybe I could create something of an online life, since the real, local one wasn't happening. In other words, theology blog, design page, aren't simply something extra I decided to try for fun or as an addition to what I was doing here in town; they became almost the whole entire thing. I realize most of the (art / design / theology, etc) peeps who get a lot of online action have an offline life that enriches and informs their online activity, which is why their stuff is (more) worth "likes." I'm aware nothing I've been doing for the past few years has been my best, but I believe it's respectable.That was one of my rethink church posts; I added, "I fear more months, years, decades of aimless drifting."
Tonight's double shadows by the fence in the alley were a compelling metaphor for the shadow I've become. Maybe shell, possibly ghost? Shadow. A while back on RevGalBlogPals' Thursday "Ask The Matriarch" feature, someone advised "do not announce the pastor's or the pastor's wife's pregnancy as a petition in the intercessions. Many many people struggle silently with infertility, and would not be able to rejoice." I've been struggling semi-silently with a different type of in/fertility, trying one thing after another ("this next thing will work, this next thing will work, this next thing, next thing, next...") to regenerate the level of productivity and participation I used to have and assumed I'd soon have again.
In my attempts to imagine a future – to "practice resurrection?" – I remember those magical times when I had everything but didn't quite realize it―friends, opportunities, health, fun, creativity, responsive emotions, a ringing telephone. Everything went away in a heartbeat. Oh, I knew how badly life could tear, I knew how brittle it could be, but I trusted the power of resurrection―and the power of body and mind to heal. Amazing that I used to stay up until 1 am or 2 am after work, or school, or spending an evening with friends. Sometimes I even went out and walked the almost empty streets (ok, that was a very long time ago, when I was an undergrad in a very urban residential area). It wasn't unusual for me to write or create art into the night, yet I'd always be awake and out of bed before dawn. I still have plenty of physical energy, but whatever the ambient temperature or length of daylight, waking days have become short. My life changed when my friends disappeared.
Crawling rather than walking or limping, extreme non-productivity, the loss of ability to "just do it," absence of true social context, inability to practice resurrection, to live "as if," are symptoms of a broken life, just as chest pains, headache, a rash, or a fever indicate something amiss within a physical organism. Most people almost immediately will attend to or at least be concerned about symptoms that are more physical in nature; even casually, people will ask if a person is eating properly, sleeping enough, getting at least a little exercise. Despite contemporary awareness of human psychological needs, many, if not most (myself included) attempt to explain away more specifically psychological signs. What person asks about an individual's social milieu, about ways they have to contribute to the common good, about people they can "go to" in times of need, or about others seeking them out in their times of need? Without the support of others (axiom: people do the best when and where they get the most support), and without the mirror of the other to tell me how I'm doing – and, in a sense, who I am – I've drifted. Life is about story, and for the story to continue, you gotta get back into community. I'm like the violinist who wonders why her career hasn't bounced back, then she suddenly notices her left arm is missing and finally knows why her career's still gone.
What do I want? Sun on my face, sand under my feet. A ringing phone, answers to emails. Fun, creativity, friends, Facebook likes and blog post comments! A real life to enhance my virtual one. A few people who recognize me as gift rather than threat. Oprah told the teenager, "you know you can't do life on your own." The door only can be opened from the other side—would you believe it's about grace?!
by Earl H Robinson and Edgar Y Harburg
My seed is sown now, my field is plowed;
My flesh is bone now, my back is bowed.
So hurry, sundown, be on your way,
And hurry me a sun-up from this beat-up sundown day.
Hurry down, sundown, be on your way;
Weave me tomorrow out of today.
Get lost in the sunrise, of a new dawn.
Hurry down, sundown, take the old day,
My life cries out for resurrection from the dead!!