Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mercurial


When I was a kid, 11, 12, 13, I would visit my dad and he'd take my brothers and I to work with him. He bought a loader and started removing orange groves and buildings for the growth boom that California experienced in the late 60s, and 70s.

We had all sorts of adventures, many dangerous. It was a different time. People took whatever misfortunes that came from putting oneself in dangerous situations. There was freedom in that. Freedom to get hurt was tied to freedom to take risks.

It was exhilarating to be a kid in situations where entire buildings were available for anything our imaginations could conjure. From riding the roofs of collapsing buildings to knocking each other off our feet with the blasts of fire hoses used to control dust.

I discovered that many buildings had a special treasure in them, which I began to collect.

Mercury.

Since the melting point of mercury is far below freezing it is a metal that is liquid at room temperature. That can be fun.

I would go through buildings that were going to be ground up and sent to the dump, and find mercury switches in the thermostats and light switches.

I'd break open the glass capsules with the shiny liquid, the quick silver, and roll it around in my palm.

I saved it. Capsule by capsule, building by building, I collected the stuff.

I have a bottle half full of it that I haven't opened in 30 years.

It is fascinating to watch this metal, a substance we usually think of as hard, unchanging, roll and flow about like water.

The surprising thing about mercury is its weight. One does not expect a liquid to be so dense, so heavy.

Brenda called this morning.

She told me she wanted to come back. I told her I didn't trust her. She is mercurial.

When I came home I saw she had been there, her stuff was in the bedroom.

I paid the bills (I got paid yesterday), and then ran around town getting things photocopied and mailed. The boys went with me and after doing my business we scouted locations on the Molalla River to try panning for gold.

She was there when we got back.

She asked if she could sleep on the couch. Try to work things out with me.

"No."

She was upset, said she wanted to try to heal our marriage, that it would be hard to become intimate, love each other, if I didn't let her stay here.

I said no.

She took her things over to her mom's.

I guess John is probably hurting tonight. She has left him again.

I went to hear my friend and pastor talk about how to study the Bible tonight. The whole time there I thought about her.

He asked me to open things with a prayer. I prayed the appropriate prayer... but my heart was very heavy.

It isn't fair that I say things to her about wanting her to get healed, saying we cannot repair our marriage until she is whole. It isn't fair because it implies that there is a way to repair this mess. Maybe there is. Probably not.

I sound pretty wishy washy, don't I?

Keeping her out of our home is tough for me. I love her. I have trouble giving up the dream we will grow old together.

But compared to her, I'm rock solid.

But... how faithful am I?

Confession: Last month when I paid the bills for the first time, it scared me. Money is very tight. I wrote a check to our church, my tithe, but, I didn't put it in the offering on the next Sunday I was there (and I missed several Sundays for various reasons).

I wrote "void" in the checkbook, tore the check up. I told myself that the Lord doesn't want me to jeopardize my family's groceries, and I didn't tithe. I told myself I would tithe the next month.

Now the next month is here.

I paid bills today. My paycheck was a little over $3,300. After paying the bills (and estimating the amounts for the bills that have yet to come) I have $359 left until my next pay day. I have $60 in my wallet. If I tithed 10% I would have $89 to feed my boys until the 25th of September.

We do have food in the cupboard and freezer...

Still...

How steady am I? Does my faith flow as easily as mercury? Does it change according to the surface it rides on? Or am I faithful enough to be firm, be as solid as the silver that mercury mimics?

Tithing isn't about paying my church dues. It isn't about coughing up money out of guilt or obligation. It's about being thankful, putting God first, being obedient, trusting Him.

Do I trust God to care for me like I say do?

Will I write that check?

8 comments:

Lucy Stern said...

Will, if you pay your tithing and have faith, the Lord will bless you and you will make it thru the month.....

ukok said...

Will,

We may have different ideas of tithing. I believe in supporting the Church financially, but i have been advised by many a priest that giving ten percent of an income would make things extremely difficult for many familys and that giving less is sufficient if i make it up to 10% by either

-giving to other charities (donating dishes of food, giving away clothes or household items we no longer need or use..basically having a generous heart)

-by offering none material gifts to the welfare of others and to the Church...ie, offering our talents with a generus spirit. Whether that be in volunteering or in leading prayer group or whatever else we are good at.

Like i said, we may view this differently, but i have no qualms about giving less and doing more. It isn't only money that keeps a Church going.

As for Brenda, I believe she is being very unfair to both you and to John.

Only you can choose where you go from here on in...only you can choose whether this will be the way your life will continue indefinately, or whether you will choose not to endure any more of this.

I am still praying for you all.

wilsonian said...

Except that it's not really about the money...
It's about trust and obedience, fear and longing.

God doesn't need your money, Will. I suspect that He wants you to hang in and work this out with Him.

Marvin the Martian said...

Tithing made the Catholic Church the wealthiest corporation in history. I don't think your church needs your help that badly, other than what you can give. Give $5, $10 maybe, but only give what you can spare for now. God doesn't care.

You are wise to push her away. She hurt you, she hurt John, she will hurt whoever lets her get close, because she is selfish, and the only thing that matters is her and her addiction.

Marvin the Martian said...

After I learned that mercury seeps through your skin, and that it's dangerous to hold it in your hand, because its density forces it through the pores in your skin, I stopped playing with it. Too late, though. Erk. Eep. Ick. (drooling)

curious servant said...

I'm going to write the check.

It isn't about money. About trusting the Creator.

As for Brenda...

I give up. I quit. My sons and I need to move on. This is tearing them apart.

Divorce.

Amrita said...

Sounds very un-Christian but a creep like John deserves Brenda, let him deal with her, then he 'll know what its like...the pendulum.

Sorry.
I 'm just so mad reading all this.

Judas Hate said...

ukok hit the nail dead center.

Tithing is supposed to be 10% of what we can give after our family is provided for. It is taken from the "left over" that we would use for self-gratification. If you pay the bills, mortgage, gas money, groceries, etc and have ten dollars left, put $1 in the collection plate.

As soon as I get caught up, I will be happy to send a donation to your church in the names of Will, Jeremiah, Isaac (and Brenda).

Love you.

J.