09 March, 2008

thin blue flame

Home. (What deserves to be retold.)

It was hard to leave a grieving campus and yet I was eager to. The reminders of sorrow—the senselessness of it all—the garish contrast between that beautiful spring afternoon and the chancellor’s words, “Eve Carson has been murdered”—all of it was too much, in pieces, in moments. While he spoke, I cried quickly and selfishly—because of injustice, because of a promising life cut short, because nothing can prevent this same thing from happening again. I was thankful for Catherine’s arms wrapped around my waist.

Another day, another chip off my trust in God. But how do you prevent evil—life—circumstances—from eroding faith? If I was isolated from the rest of the world and lived in a tower, perhaps, my faith would be very strong; nothing would touch it; no horrible events could ever shake it because I wouldn’t know about any horrible events. They say that adversity pushes you to God but lately it’s just been pushing me away.

Josh Ritter says,

“If God’s up there, he’s in a cold dark room
The heavenly host are just the cold dark moons.
He bent down and made the world in seven days,
And ever since he’s been walking away.”

I don’t believe that, but sometimes it is a very tempting idea. I am still clinging—with white-knuckled fists!—to a Living God, a God that lives and breathes and moves among us. I want to know that God. And I like Jesus a lot. I’m not always so sure about God. But what it comes down to is that I don’t know how to obtain faith. Struggles and evil don’t give me more faith. Prayer and Scripture don’t seem to give me more faith. What will?

Coming home is always a little trying and I commonly feel lazy and irritable here. I don’t know why. It’s such an icky feeling and it just breeds wells of self-hatred. And I am always cold.

The sun is still out and I am happy for an extra hour. Life really does seem to renew itself in the spring. Sam is upstairs playing with our cousin Emily; they laugh breathlessly and stomp around without even trying to muffle the noise. Dad is drilling and hammering things somewhere. The day fades.

"In darkness he looks for the lights that have died;
You need faith for the same reasons that it’s so hard to find.
And this whole thing is headed for a terrible wreck—
And like good tragedy, that’s what we expect."
- Josh Ritter, “Thin Blue Flame”


hunter said...

i know exactly how you feel. i slept at the lake by my house one night because i refused to move until i felt like God would at least show me he was actually there. some days i border on nihilism.

for the last 4 days i have had 'hold fast hope' tattooed on my fingers so i can see it all the time and remember. somehow that helps. you said that "Struggles and evil don’t give me more faith. Prayer and Scripture don’t seem to give me more faith. What will?"
and i know how you feel, but believe this; scripture and prayer will give you more faith, God will give you more faith. just not always when you are begging Him for it, but He provides. believe it or not, He actually has His own schedule and it doesn't coincide with mine. or yours.

heres some words that describe it better perhaps:

how can you be sleeping? waves like weapons crash
over us, cry for mercy and hold fast hope

who of us is cursed, or do we have to ask
search your souls and hold fast
if no one speaks a word, then let the lots be cast
truth be told and hold fast

white death wakes in black skies, mark your maker's wrath
fear and flames of azure climb the crooked mast
you will yet be baptized, steeped in shattered glass
sink and sing your answer and hold fast

as strong arms grip your shoulders like dead hands of the past
pray as you're tossed over, this breath could be your last

quiet and cold, silent and slow
night black as coal, miles here below

find your faith and dive deep through living gateways pass
lined with death and ivory, and hold fast, hold fast

deep beneath the black dawn, leagues from lightning's flash
ribs will raise cathedrals for the morning mass
steel yourself in sackcloth, roll your heart in ash
scrape your skin with steel wool,

cross your heart and hold fast hope
cross your heart and hold fast hope and hold fast hope.

hunter said...

also. i e-mailed you.