Moving has been something like starting a new sketch book. It's so hard to make the first mark. We are in that awful in between moment before beginning a new painting - uncomfortably nose to nose with a blank canvas, meaningless and empty, and we need faith and warmth to fill it up. We are terrified of messing it all up - like it's something precious, which it is and is not.
I am thinking, as you are too, a lot about immigrants. I am thinking of mommies and daddies dragging children away from people and homes they know and what they love for an uncertain hope of something secure, something brighter. I am thinking a lot about being new to a place and doing the first hard work of not belonging, so others can belong. The work of sowing in tears so someone else can reap the comfort of being in a place they feel at home. Making the first mark. We are about to sell our perfect house in Georgia, and I am not replacing it with a better or equally perfect house in a smooth pass. I am replacing it with nothing - blank canvas.
I am the rich young man who went away sad. We don't get the rest of the story, but I am the rich young man who went home sad, sold everything, and thought Jesus meant he would get better stuff back in return, when what He meant was freedom that feels like falling.
The world weighs a million pounds around my shoulders and my head throbs.
At lunch I asked Stephen, "could I be dying?" My head aches every day. My stomach is in shreds. I'm not hungry. I don't want coffee and my heart feels cold and races.
This is not about a house.
My mother is watching her own beautiful mother age and become ill. My grandmother can't breathe, and is sad and won't answer phone calls. Last night, my mother took a long call from my uncle up in her room in the house where I grew up. She was gone an awfully long time. My sister and I went upstairs together to check on her and she was tear-y eyed. We stood all together in the hall looking at the wall full of old pictures - pictures my mom had made when I was about ten, all of my five siblings together, the twins, tiny babies. I know what was happening in that time now better than I did then, that it was a terrible time for my mother, and there we are, all smiling in pressed linen. I'm so glad she had those pictures made. It was hope.
"Abby is so tall now," my sister says. It is her first daughter's 2nd birthday and we are gathered to celebrate. "She will be gone before you know," says my mother.
I want everyone to slow down. People in cars are driving too fast. My children move too fast and too loudly. My heart races.
We are making an album - something that feels like a ridiculous luxury - a silliness. We are making an album with two of the best people we know. We made the terrible decision to crowd fund it - community is the new record label - and every pledge that comes in or doesn't come knocks me around, storm tossed in the boat where Jesus sleeps. Why would we do this, I wonder? We are parents. We must do responsible things. I know there is something in this of wanting to show our children the infinite and enduring value of creative work. My friend tells me, "spinning plates will make you dizzy," and I am dizzy. Freedom that feels like falling.
Lent is supposed to be just this way - ashes to ashes. Giving up and dying. And then hope comes. Life is meant to kill us - and then we are reborn. We do things we are afraid to do, and courage comes from doing, not before. Friday and Sunday. Empty tombs and new stories.