Life’s sweet spots sometimes come towards the end of big struggles. I admit I create many of my own struggles, wrestling with how to be kind to a perpetually irksome person, or with the plight of the nearly-extinct white-bellied spider monkey. Oh, and how my country, the whole world even, can be a place where humans can actually live.
In the midst of these inner writhings, I haven’t remembered yet that I’d asked God and His/Her Universe to please get me to a higher level of understanding, whatever it takes. So, if I’m to be truly honest, what I’m really asking for is to feel better. I want to be more peaceful, less in turmoil, more comfortable in my own skin. To cross this or that particular demon off the list.
At the beginning, when I’m miserable and churning, I see my need for divine intervention. I know I need to do the simple-sounding work of letting go. Simple, but not easy. I begin to feel alone in the struggle. Where are you, God? I’m showing up to this mess, which you apparently led me to do. Now what?
Feels like I’m between a rock and a hard place. A very gray area. I sit like a cartoon character with that wisp of smoke sketched above his head. No words. Unhappy. Feeling sorry for myself.
I could just keep griping to the heavens, but, although I do have lots to be concerned about, I’m not very happy being habitually miserable. I decide to go into town early in the morning for a quiet coffee.
I don’t feel like going to my usual haunt where people know me, so I walk up the street to another one. There’s a giant peace symbol painted on the side of a building. Never noticed it before. On close inspection, one can see that the paint is old. Guess I hadn’t walked in this direction on this street in this spot for a while. The peace symbol mocks me. I smirk.
In the coffee shop, I hesitate for a moment when I see a familiar face–dang! The homeless guy. He’s usually in the other coffee shop. Not in the mood, but I nod to him. Sigh. I ask him if he’d like some breakfast today. He says yes. I’m glad when he retreats to eat his breakfast on his own. I’m not very good company.
Later that day I go to see my mother. To keep my thoughts from going all gloomy as I drive, I hit play on my podcast list. On Being, this time with Glenn Beck formerly of Fox News as guest. (You can read the transcript with a click on the link above.) Here’s the gist: host Krista Tippett spoke with Mr. Beck about how he had been an extremely anti-Obama Fox News personality, then converted to Mormonism, and now sees that no matter where we are politically, we can find the things we have in common with our political opposites. I am (was?) Glenn Beck’s political and religious opposite, but there he was, addressing one of my own concerns, an echo of what I’ve been thinking. His about-face challenged and humbled me. I cried, there in the car. The interview took me out of my own head and gave me a little bit of hope for the future of my country and the world. This has been one of my biggest struggles lately.
Almost at my mother’s house, I notice for the first time ever the skyline of the city beyond her town. Never noticed it before, even though I’ve driven down that same street a million times. I used to live on that street, for crying out loud! Never, ever noticed that skyline. Didn’t realize the city was that high up on a hill, or how beautiful it is on a cloudy day. I was astounded at how I could have had such limited perspective. Again, tears, and a strange relief.
I went on that day to cross off to-do’s, both pleasurable and mundane. I may have smiled a little. There are still life’s very big questions. That’s OK, I think. Between the rocks and hard places, there’s the universe, powered by Love, which I call God, always with me in the struggle.
(Oh, and what book has my attention lately? Accidental Saints–Finding God In All The Wrong People, by Nadia Bolz-Weber. More on that later, perhaps.)