Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lives in the Balance

Rocky’s dog tags jingled in the hush the world takes just before it awakens to a new day.

Starlight isn’t enough to clearly see my feet. I navigate by listening for the sound of my footsteps on packed earth.

Nightmares again last night and another early morning walk to pray the shadows from my heart.

The ugliness a bad dream leaves clings, cloys to me long after I awake..

The ugliness of a bad dream makes it easy to wonder if there is a God.

A ridiculous question for me. I am more certain of the existence of God than I am of my own. I find it more likely I am a temporary abberation in the dream of an almighty being than He is a fantasy of my own mind or the group consciousness of my culture.

Still... the mood a terror-filled dream brings is one that makes one wonder if the goodness, the beauty, the loveliness of the world aren’t false memories.

I see God in the world, in my life. The fact I can appreciate beauty, a skill which has no evolutionary benefit, tells me He is real. The fact I can sense what is right, what is wrong, tells me I have an internal moral compass, something pointing to the true north of all realities. That I have experienced my heart leaping in joy, even during great sorrow, tells me my faith is grounded on a bedrock of reality.

Still, while walking beneath the stars this morning, the nightmares which have plagued me the last four nights discourage, make me fearful, sorrowful. They make me feel I am worthless, I am a failure. They make me feel my anger is worthy, righteous. They make me feel that I am seen in the eyes of others as a person who cannot keep the love of a woman, cannot succeed in something as simple as living a life of partnership.

But, those are feelings. They are not real.

The truth is far different.

There was some paint peeling on my house. I scraped the bubbled paint off, took a sample in to get a gallon of matching exterior paint. A wall along a side street was bad. The paint peeled off in long, disheartening strips. The wall near the deck was the same.

As I moved about the house, rubbing, scraping off loose paint, the scope of my little repairs grew. Meanwhile my marriage exploded, my responsibilities grew, my work began anew.

I began to feel overwhelmed.

I felt the gentle push to trust in God, and to teach my sons how to be hosts, to prepare meals, how to engage in conversations.

I nervously decided to tithe.

After paying my bills I had $67 left to carry my family nearly a month.

A card came in the mail containing a $50 bill for gas and a gift card for $60 worth of groceries. Brenda came by and unexpectedly gave me $50 for my share of a closed bank account. A check came in the mail reimbursing me for something I must have inadvertently overpaid, $300. That trampoline I have wanted to haul off as scrap was taken by a neighbor who gave me $35 for it.

Yesterday afternoon men from my church showed up at my house. They brought paint brushes and scrapers and by sundown the entire house had been scraped and painted with primer paint. They will be back today to put on the exterior color coat. They will be back Saturday to do trim or whatever else needs doing.

This morning I walked in the darkness, the jangling of metal tags on my dog the only sound in the stillness of the fields. The jangling of my nerves from four days of nightmares telling me that all is a mess, that I should give up, go crawl off somewhere and curl up.

His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"

He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:9-10


Are you still holding on to your integrity? That is what the cloying shadows from my bad dreams ask me.

The feeling of defeat, the sense of being a failure, the sense of an overwhelming list of things to do, the confusion of losing what I thought was mine for a lifetime, they are telling me I am alone, that there isn’t any grand, supreme being who loves me and is watching over me.

But...

I trusted $67 would be enough if I tithed. And I find an additional $495 falling into my wallet.

I feel exhilaration when the dawn’s glow illuminates the ground fog cloaking my dog and his jingling IDs.

I feel loved, cared for, supported, by my church family who saw my need and swept in with tools and tackled a job that had outgrown my ability to complete on time.

I feel a twisting living thing in my spirit when I close my eyes to worship on Sundays.

What is this thing that is happening? How is it that my faith, as strong and solid as it is, feels pushed by a few bad dreams?

Because there is a balancing act going on.

There is a spiritual balance that holds my faith in one cup, and my doubts in another.

On the side where I place my mind and heart, the cup descends, pressed by the weight of my choices, my feelings.

It may be my own psyche, it may be the work of something more sinister. But the balance swings where I want it to. The balance moves at my will.

I believe my wife will regret what she has done. I believe she will find little satisfaction in her choices. I believe she will find not only regret, but darkness. I believe she is weighting the wrong side of the balance.

I believe, what I choose to do, what I think, feel, believe, is what puts my life in the balance.

5 comments:

Marvin the Martian said...

Balance implies gravity, implies weight. You are weightless, free. Your spirit is light, and goes where it will. You are not the yin to her yang. You are yourself, with no one to hold you down, and God to hold you up.

Anonymous said...

Psalm l2l:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Anonymous said...

you must attend an awesome church, lucky guy, you - aggf

Anonymous said...

he does and we ALL love him and his family. Will definitely gives much more than he receives

Amrita said...

Praise God for such helpful and church church people.