We were days from our leave date and Nick was redoing the suspension on our truck: the front wheels are off of the truck, its midnight and the last, one single bolt will not go into place. That one bolt was why it was turning night back into day and Nick was still underneath the truck with plans to stay under there until he could get the wheel back on. I drove in the rain to pick up supplies for him to stay the night, windshield wipers on high and worry spewing from my mouth. But somehow, for no reason whatsoever, the bolt suddenly moved and that night it rained everywhere else in Culver City but that one driveway that he was in. It was a victory. And I wrote the following:
“Small victories make the hard days easier and they add up quickly. I read earlier today, in an article written about herself, a woman stating that instead of needing money she needed perspective. I believe in that. I see every injection that I have to take and every tire that gets replaced as a victory. We are preparing ourselves, outfitting not just our car but our beings for a year of unknown talks and unknown pasts and presents and futures. Who are we to know where we are actually headed when we, at one time, said that we would surrender ourselves to something greater? Whether it be God for you, or if He goes by another name or none at all, we have all given ourselves to something greater and bigger and stronger.”
I am a fickle creature. In Spring I was writing in my journal about struggle and yet proclaiming faith. Now here I am, about 7 months later, in the deep end. The person with faith despite the past and current conflict - I miss her. If being on this road trip has taught me much of anything, it is that nothing is certain. That in and of itself is difficult, but as grownups we are having to follow through with whatever uncertain future we are creating for ourselves (dang it). Its not a new issue, as I have always wondered and struggled through fear of the unknown, but the learning to let go and accept the uncertainty - that's what I am trying to lean in to.
Although I go through ups and downs, and though I miss that strong woman who was seeking and yet seemed so confident in it, I truly am gaining perspective and I wouldn’t want to skip these past and current conflicts just for an easier path. I won’t lie though - there are many times that I wish for some luck and for things to just fall into place, and I often forget to count every single injection as a victory when sometimes I just plain hate them.
But wait. I am totally beating around the bush here. I have always done that, for fear that somebody may find out that I’m not perfect - the horrors, its so completely obvious - or that it may come back around and bite me in the ass. I’d love to present a perfect package, tied in a pretty bow and with tidy corners, but that would be dishonest. The long and short of it is that out here, often alone among God’s great creation, I wonder if everything is just an accident or if everything, as taught to me as a young child, is all part of God’s great and wondrous plan. I’m living somewhere in the middle. I don’t think that’s “lukewarm” or lacking in faith, I think that its honest. In the midst of refugees and diseases, sprinkle in a heavy dose of my own selfishness, and top it off with global warming, we want to believe in some Great Good that is waiting for the moment to come put everything to right. That’s what I was doing. Now, I am challenging that way of thinking, wanting to position myself to do something about it rather than wait for something or someone to make it all right. I don’t know what that means at every moment, but I do know that overall it means that I must do my best, always.
I find that very comforting. To know that I am a participant in the good, and the bad too, means that I, though living a life of uncertainty, can do my best to make things better. Its not a new concept but I am relearning it. Hopefully engraining it deeply into faith. If I take comfort and find the opportunity to learn within words, knowing this need for perspective is ages old, then this poem and its conclusion are true:
Oh me! Oh Life!
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, or cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring - What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here - that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.