what there is to hold on to

I wait at the mall – you have to drop me off before work for a bus that leaves hours later. There is a carousel here whose manic music-box effect betrays the place for the madhouse it is; still I always fight the urge to buy something, anything, in hopes it will dull the pain of watching you go. The little numbing comforts are insidious that way.

This is the deal we’ve made with the long-distance devil, though – two days of travel for two days together. This morning again we’ve handed in rich simplicities – hand-holding, people-watching, picnics – for thin complexities: texts, calls, and the wishing silences, once the day’s been described, that finally undo me.

Our together has been long-distance now for longer than it was not. Some days it surprises me that we are already two years older than when we met; if only because I still so often feel so giddy that he really likes me! But so many other days feel like rocks added to a backpack I’ve shouldered all this time.

Today I just can’t remember or understand why I’m traveling away from you when it feels like an exile, like something is broken, like I will be waiting another three weeks to breathe again. I can’t be practical or make the most of this when everything in this world insists that life is short and love is precious and nothing is guaranteed. With so much pain on this Earth here in August, and so little I can do about any of it, I am not interested in being strong, no matter how small my problems look next to others’. I need your arms around me and your voice in my ear when so little else is right and safe, when I am sure that so little else matters.

_20140819_214102I took refuge in the woods yesterday from watching all this pain unfold on my screens. I walked among growing things and was strangely comforted by a passing thought – there have always been war and disease. people have always had to miss one another. there is nothing new under the sun; these are ancient enemies. The world is not ending and we are not forsaken. Today it is the lady I read sometimes and the book your father sent me which remind me that this world is not our home –  more, that the God who calls us into our little lives faithfulness is the God who promises fruit like the blackberry miracles you and I picked at dusk. This is all much bigger than my own despair.

One long bus ride later, I walk beside the river Charles, who has been the one saving grace of a lonely city summer. In a few days I will go to see my family and I will pull them close, we will eat outside, I will thank God that we are all alive and together for those days. But now it is only Charles and I, and I lean on a railing and pray and pray like I haven’t been able to do in a while. I pray for you and your own worries. I pray for the lovers in this world separated by more and darker things than just their own choices and ambitions. I pray for my parents and my brother. I pray protection for those working against ebola. I pray that justice will flow like a river in Ferguson and that peace will grow on its banks. I pray for Gaza, Libya, Iraq, and every place where violence holds its demented sway. I pray for this sharply segregated city and for the river and for my church.

Maybe I’m not supposed to care about so many things or pray such long lists, like a child praying for her stuffed animals, but I am a child before all of these things. I am small and helpless and tonight I have only my tears to offer a world ravaged by indifference. I will not shake my head and wish these problems away; I will take them to my Father, who holds them and mourns them and gives us the faith to believe he is working in the lost Saturdays before resurrection.


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