Saturday, April 5, 2008
Something I call God
Naseem and I are probably dying, so if you're going to leave comments on any blog entry, this is the one because tomorrow we'll probably be dead. Sorry, everyone. It was nice knowing you all.
Ok, obviously I'm kidding. Sort of. We actually are both sick and at least feel like dying, but odds are we'll probably stick around a while longer. We'll just need pretty ready access to a bathroom, that's all. We really did spend most of the day feeling fairly miserable, which, if you're going to spend a day feeling fairly miserable, I suppose this would be a good one. The kids were preoccupied with the freedom of the weekend; they all got invited to a pool party thrown by this prototypical family of towheaded Dallas people, so we crammed seventeen hot, sweaty, smelly bodies into a decrepit eight passenger van (legal? I think not) and chugged along the streets of Roatan until we reached a swanky resort with an equally swanky pool filled with well-groomed, Scandinavian looking kids with abnormally thick blonde shocks of hair framing their wholesomely all-American faces. Even I felt out of place. The kids, however, loved every minute of it, and Naseem and I sat in the shade, focusing on not running to the bathroom every few minutes.
I'm not going to pretend that I've had a good attitude about things today because, let's be honest, I haven't really been a bright little ray of sunshine. I haven't been a complete downer to be around either but that's only because I adopted the smile-and-nod method of communication: it was kind of like pretending that I didn't know English, so I could just sit there, not excactly participating, and observe and absorb...and, incidentally, get bit all over my body by sand fleas.
But instead of focusing on the negative (my therapist would be elated), I'm going to find beauty in today. I've been reading The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, and there was a passage that I loved. If something I read is beautiful or bittersweet, I have a tendency to think that it is directly applicable to my current situation in life, that it resonates with me in a unique way, that, in a way, the passage found me, and I become extraordinarily affected by it. Anyway, so in this book, the main character and narrator Binx Bolling, who is on an existential quest of sorts, tells about one summer he and his friend tried to do research on some science-y thing, but instead found himself oddly moved and affected by the summer afternoons in the lab, the way "the August sunlight came streaming in the great dusty fanlights and lay in yellow bars across the room." He was "bewitched" by it, but his friend was completely oblivious to the magic, entirely absorbed in his research, which in the end proved successful; although Binx is in somewhat of a precarious position in life, he says he would never change places with his friend "for he is no more aware of the mystery which surrounds him than a fish is aware of the water it swims in." Binx at least sees the beauty, and although he can't necessarily pinpoint it, he recognizes that it is magic, that it is a mystery.
So I'm going to tell about a time today I saw beauty, that I felt the magic of what I'm doing here: there is a boy in the home named Gabriel, and he's about six years old. Today he spent about an hour playing with me and intermittently falling asleep on my lap. It's always wonderful and rejuvenating to spend peaceful time with the kids, with no one hitting, crying, or screaming, and I was thankful for that time with him. As we rode along on our way to the pool, Gabriel was curled up on my lap the entire time, and although I was already so hot and his body was lithe but heavy, his weight was a pleasant, comforting warmth. His hand was wrapped tightly around my thumb and his head was pressed against my chest, gently rising and falling each time I breathed. The road leading up to West Bay was a little bumpy and I tried my best to hold him tightly and cushion his little body so he wouldn't bounce around too much. I had my cheek pressed against his head, I could practically feel his scars, the sun was golden as it flooded the van and colored everyone in its light--outside the window the jungle was green, flecked with yellow, and the trees rose like a canopy enveloping us as we sped along, seventeen separate people all in one place, bound together by a specific time and a certain space--and perhaps a beauty, a magic, a mystery. Jean Toomer wrote about a girl he knew once and how everything flowed into her eyes, "the countryside and something that I call God." That was how I felt this afternoon: sometimes all these discordant elements, these seventeen people, the heat, a child curled up in your lap, the sunlight, everything comes together and creates something lovely and true, something in which I see the beauty and mystery of the Divine reflected. I looked around me and saw something that I call God, a reflection of the transcendence of the Liberating King. And I felt happy.
Sorry once again for rambling on and on. Hopefully you found something worthwhile hidden amongst the wreckage of my language. Continue praying for Naseem and me, and for the kids.
And email us, for the love of God.