Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sire of Sorrow

"You can’t step in the same river twice; between the first time you step into the river and the second time you step in the river, both the river changes and you change." --Heroclitus

I should be in bed. Today is about to turn into tomorrow. My doctor told me today I need to get more sleep and eat better. And yet, I'm sitting here tapping at this keyboard.

I'm 52. How the heck did I get here so fast? Fifty two is supposed to be old. I'm supposed to be all grown up. I'm supposed to be experienced, wise. And I find I am just as foolish as I ever was. More so.

In 1980, when I first met my bride, I thought life would roll along, I would somehow find my way, you know, work, children, a long life with her.

The children thing was a disappointment. Ten years into our marriage it became clear that she was not going to get pregnant (but we kept hoping, praying). I gave up on that dream before she did.

I had the other dream... A lifetime with one woman. Someday I would be like those elderly couples you see, holding hands, life-long partners... This year I have given up on that dream. Well, more like this Summer... or... really, this week.

We altered our dreams to fit the circumstances. We adopted Willy. I took his birth mom to her doctor appointments, held him when he was less than a day old, took him home. Named him after me. Gave him to God. That ended sadly.

We adopted Jeremiah and Isaac. I especially thought Isaac would carry on in the world for me. He has a lot of good qualities, but... he is himself, and I am not leaving children behind with my interests and talents... That's OK.

I started the other blog, Job's Tale, to deal with the sorrows I felt in life. And I started this blog when the latest crisis came along. Writing is an outlet for me. (I'm hoping that if I write this post I will be able to release the tension that is keeping me awake.)

I'm a little embarrassed by Job's Tale. I wrote some good stuff there... it is a good journal of my thoughts for that period of time, but, I think it was a little immature to think of my problems in the light of the Book of Job.

Though, in my defense, I was really trying to understand the underlying concepts and principles of the book, and I thought I would share some of my literary views of the work, its patterns and structures (it never went in that direction).

I started reading the Book of Job the way many do. Out of crisis and confusion.

I had a soundtrack for it. There is a song by Joni Mitchell about it. "Sire of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song)".

Let me speak, let me spit out my bitterness-
Born of grief and nights without sleep and festering flesh
Do you have eyes?
Can you see like mankind sees?
Why have you soured and curdled me?
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

Once I was blessed; I was awaited like the rain
Like eyes for the blind, like feet for the lame
Kings heard my words, and they sought out my company
But now the janitors of Shadowland flick their brooms at me
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
that you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

([Antagonists:] Man is the sire of sorrow)
I've lost all taste for life
I'm all complaints
Tell me why do you starve the faithful?
Why do you crucify the saints?
And you let the wicked prosper
You let their children frisk like deer
And my loves are dead or dying, or they don't come near
([Antagonists:] We don't despise your chastening
God is correcting you)

Oh and look who comes to counsel my deep distress
Oh, these pompous physicians
What carelessness!
([Antagonists:] Oh all this ranting all this wind
Filling our ears with trash)
Breathtaking ignorance adding insult to injury!
They come blaming and shaming
([Antagonists:] Evil doer)
And shattering me
([Antagonists:] This vain man wishes to seem wise
A man born of asses)
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

([Antagonists:] We don't despise your chastening)
Already on a bed of sighs and screams,
And still you torture me with visions
You give me terrifying dreams!
Better I was carried from the womb straight to the grave.
I see the diggers waiting, they're leaning on their spades.

([Antagonists:] Man is the sire of sorrow
Sure as the sparks ascend)
Where is hope while you're wondering what went wrong?
Why give me light and then this dark without a dawn?
([Antagonists:] Evil is sweet in your mouth
Hiding under your tongue)
Show your face!
([Antagonists:] What a long fall from grace)
Help me understand!
What is the reason for your heavy hand?
([Antagonists:] You're stumbling in shadows
You have no name now)
Was it the sins of my youth?
What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?
([Antagonists:] Oh your guilt must weigh so greatly)
Everything I dread and everything I fear come true
([Antagonists:] Man is the sire of sorrow)
Oh you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true

I have listened to that song so many times for so many years that sometimes it fills my dreams. I have sung it in the woods, I have sung it in our Prayer Room. I have prayed it to God. I have let it play while I wrote many posts (it is playing now).

The song's title comes from Job's friends, arguing that our pains, our griefs, come from our own actions. We are the sires of our own sorrows.

And I believe it.

I know it.

Though the story of Job is set in the framework of a debate between Satan and the Lord God, I really believe that the countless aches and pains of humanity are primarily of our own making.

Even in the death of Willy, I had something to do with that.

And this current sadness which storms through my chest... human actions. Hers... mine.

I know that this is another episode in a mortal life... an ephemeral thing.

It's just that I have tried so hard for so long, and I have been hurt so many times, I am ill-equipped to handle the flood of feelings and thoughts I am having.

I wish I was on the other side of all this already.

But that's the point of a mortal life, isn't it? To go through it, not around.

Perhaps it is my artistic nature that I feel things this intensely... That sounded callous, didn't it? I imply the sadness of others can't be as bad as mine... That isn't true.

Still... I know people who have gone through this sort of thing with hardly a backward glance. I walk through my days, going over my mistakes, her mistakes. I carry the prickly, spikey, heavy burden of my life's experiences close to my heart. I let it pierce me, change me.

And I'm 52 now. Fifty two is supposed to be old. I'm supposed to be all grown up. I'm supposed to be experienced, wise. And I find I am just as foolish as I ever was.

Oh you tireless watcher!
What have I done to you?

That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

There will be a day when this will be something that happened, not something that is happening. That will be better.

([Antagonists:] Oh your guilt must weigh so greatly)

So here I sit... passages from scripture, images of my wife with another, Willy's blue face so still in my arms, appreciation for the wonders of the universe, and this ache... all rolling around inside.

I know this.

I know what this is.

It's called grief.

And it will pass.

But, not tonight, not right now.



I really don’t know what to say, but I need to release this frustration, anxiety, fear, hurt.

Can you and I be friends? I hope so. But today, at this moment anyway, I am so hurt I can’t stand it.

I can never trust you. That is a fundamental truth. I can never trust you.

I think about the last three decades and I ache.

I really thought marriage was forever.

Yeah, yeah... I made a lot of mistakes, did a lot of things wrong.

But I grew. I keep working on myself, improving myself, holding myself to a higher standard.

And you threw it all away.

How could I ever trust anyone again? How could I ever get married again? How could I say those words? Those vows? I can’t.

And what am I to do now?

I’m to take care of these handicapped boys. I’m to go to work, keep my career going, and clean this house, feed these boys, and try to hold myself together for them.

You threw away our future. Your future. My future.

I am incredibly sad.

And this past year! It wasn’t enough that you cheated on me, betrayed me. You kept yanking me back and throwing me away again. You kept telling me you were sorry and you loved me, and then turn around and say and do cruel things.

And I hung in there.

I kept praying for you. Trying to build you up, even while you were tearing me down.

And I am so tired. So spent. So frustrated. So hurt.

I’m not writing this to lay a guilt trip on you. In fact I have nothing to gain from saying anything to you. I do not believe my words can help you. I do not believe my pain can do anything for anyone.

But the boys are in bed and I am alone. The way I expect to be for a very, very long time.

You were my best friend.


That's life, isn't it? And mine isn't so bad. There are such terrible things happening in the world. I live a comfortable life in a nation that grants me many unearned rewards.

And I am 52 years old. I have changed, I have grown. The river changes, I change. Maybe that's the whole point, eh? Living a mortal life.


I can't sleep. And today has turned into tomorrow.


Amrita said...

You are not alone, most of us are living lives of silent desperation.

But no matter vot, underneath you are the everlasing arms.

Everything vas taken avay from Job, stripped clean, but the Lord restored it all back.

He vill bring you out.

Bad Alice said...

God got very angry at Job's friends. He was pretty definitive that what happened to Job did not originate with Job. Never understood the story--why God would assent to such a trial--but the uselessness of human explanations in the face of tragedy has always made sense to me. We ask these questions and God answers with something that isn't really all that comforting. At least, I don't understand why anyone would find it comforting!

Judas Hate said...

I wish I were a wiser man and could speak words that would offer comfort.
So I will just sit here quietly and ache for you, be your friend and tell you....I love you.


Becky; said...

judas hate is very wise...w/you as well

Anonymous said...

In the Desert of the Real, I sit.
It is sunrise, and somehow I know you are awake as well, and I hope you can feel the quiet echo, the barest hiss of the sand as my feet take steps toward the dunes near my camp and face northward and westward, to where I know you are.
I'm right here.
I'm right here.

Jaz4J said...

Someday you will be on the other side and day by day it will get better.
I am not as poetic as some are in my comments but I do know from experience raising 3 very small children at the time that God is with you in every step. When you look back you will be in awe of the love and protection HE shows you.
Sleep, my friend, you will need the strength.

Anonymous said...

letting you know my arm is around you as you go through this

Anonymous said...

I'm hear and I hear you.

curious servant said...

A Short Q & A:

Hi Will, Are you still decorating the walls of the prayer room? I loved your art work and can't understand why you don't paint for a living you are an amazing artist. Pam.

Hi Pam. Thank you for the kind words.

Yes, I still go in regularly and do things on the walls of the Prayer Room. And every year I paint over them, making the walls white again (or rather, ivory).

Once in a while I do something on canvass or something. When I do I give the picture away. Sometimes when I do that I find a check in my church mailbox. I drop that in the offering or spend it depending on my situation.

There has been a couple of times when someone has asked me to do something in particular, and I do it, more as a favor. When it comes to the price, I tell them to give me whatever they like.

It just doesn't feel like the sort of thing I am interested in turning into an income.

Secretly, I would like to do a prayer for someone like those in the prayer room that would be a particular blessing to them... An image that meant something to them, created out of prayers.