Ten years have passed, you’re closer to half way done than you were. Remember how mom used to ask if it would matter in ten years? Some small upset, some inconvenience? And you would think about it and realize it wasn’t likely to matter in ten minutes, much less ten years. Good advice, mom, thanks.
The things that have happened recently will matter in ten years. The things that have happened to us will still be things we will care about, and we need to rest easy with that. We need to find a place that is sort of comfortable, preferably with lumbar support (you know how our back aches now? It will get worse), and we need to just gather the folds of our cloak around us and sit with this. We need to. We must. We must become comfortable with all of the things that cannot be so that they cannot hurt us anymore.
Tonight our brother preached about how every time we come to the communion rail and take that precious blood it seeps into our soul. I could see that blood turning something clean and white and shining to something darker, wine colored, and stained with the horror and the love and the down in the dirt fighting that we are to do. Somehow that blood will strengthen us, we will no longer have a paper lantern soul, we will have one made of flesh and blood, one that is nearly unbreakable. This is magic that goes beyond transubstantiation, this is transformation and this is life.
And I had this image of you now, and I hope it is ok if I share it with you.
I saw you, laying on a beach in the moonlight, right at the water line. And there were small islands out on the water, and the tide was coming in but you didn’t seem to care. The water would wash over your face and you would close your mouth and your eyes, blow out through your nose like we learned probably a thousand years ago. Finally you got the message though, and you opened your mouth and took that salty water in. One. Small. Sip. at a time.
And I realized that we are on the edge of something, that you are, and that I am telling you that we can get past this. I am telling you that even though you want to get it all over and done as quickly as possible, to drink down that vast sea of tears and to move past this pain at the same speed you like to use to accomplish everything, that you can’t. Because you couldn’t see, from where you lay on the sand, how wide the water is, how large your pain can be. I understand that it will overwhelm you if you know, if you sit up and gaze out over that wet waste. So I peeked at you from behind your favorite star and I looked for you.
We will never drink this pain up. These tears will never stop. But we can take small sips. We can lay in the sand and open our mouth to receive this sea of sorrow in the same way that we can open our mouth and receive the blood that gives us life. We can do hard things, and our small sips will fortify our heart as the blood of Christ fortifies our soul. And you can cling to that liturgy like the rope that it is, like the only thing you can hold onto, no one will tell you that can’t anymore.
Today our Ave brought you a small plant, a sweet and tangy smelling basil, and I know you’re sure she didn’t know its your favorite, but its ok to believe that she did. Remember that she planted this seed for you weeks ago. And she sat that green plastic pot on the windowsill in her classroom, she checked on it every day and she gave it water and she talked to it and she sang quietly to it all of your favorite songs. She cared for it because she wanted it for you.
You must care for us in the same way. You must plant us in rich soil and set us near a window, you must water us with tears and sing to us sometimes, and we too can come out of what feels grave like, that resurrection story isn’t just for Jesus you know, its for us too.
And so here you are, at what feels to you to be the end of all the things, at the very edge of the world. I want you to know, here in the future, that the world keeps going even when you feel like you cannot.
I can see you full up with tears for now, camped out in the woods off the path, trying to light a fire and being mad that all the wood is wet, being mad about everything, possessed with an unholy rage. Resist the urge to burn your map, it won’t burn long enough to keep you warm anyway, resist the temptation to strike out in anger, because what you can’t know or see is that just a little way down the path there is a clearing, an oasis. In that clearing is a red tent, and the women who are standing by you, the ones who have mirrored back your story in a hundred different variations, they are coming to you down the rocky path, because they know that you cannot come to them.
If you can get up tomorrow and shake the dreams from your hair and pack up your camp and walk just a little bit down the path you will be that much closer. You weren’t made for this. You weren’t made for sorrow, not for despair.
I’m here to tell you that you will be ok, everything will come right in the end. You will crash through the woods to the clearing, drawn by the sound of the laughter of your children, and women cooking and talking and singing, and you will step into a circle of warm light. You will have to visit the sea sometimes, for probably ever, but you don’t have to live there anymore.
Tonight I’ll leave you by the sea, your very own body of water. I’ll cover you with your patchwork cloak and let you sip your grief. Tomorrow you must fight, just a little, walk, just a little.
We can do this, I am living proof.
And I love you still,
I dreamed that love would never die, I dreamed that God would be forgiving. When I was young and unafraid and dreams were made and used and wasted, there was no ransom to be paid, no song unsung, no wine untasted…and still I dream he’ll come to me, that we will live the years together. But there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather.