Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell…
If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.
–W. H. Auden
I’ve felt nearly dead all summer, felled by that final blow of religious disillusionment. And I’ve watched with strange detachment how quickly things fall apart. You spend hours cleaning a house and in five minutes, the children easily destroy it. That’s how my faith feels right now. Shattered in five minutes flat.
A few weeks ago I stood at the top of a cliff and looked out over the expansive ocean. I asked God why He bothered making my personality if all I was going to do was struggle with it for my entire life?
I wasn’t expecting an answer, I just felt like asking why. Why did He make me this way? Why does every single thing in my life feel like a life-or-death struggle? Why must I feel so deeply? I would have preferred one of those more laid-back personalities, the kind that doesn’t go around feeling all the damn time.
I told God I was sick sick of being sensitive. (People have been telling me my whole life that I need to “grow thicker skin”–what the hell does that mean, anyway? And also, precisely HOW does one go about growing thicker skin?)
God didn’t answer me. No surprise there. It’s pretty much been silence, silence and more silence where God is concerned.
And I’ll admit, I’ve wallowed a bit.
But I kept doing three things: 1.) writing and, 2.) running and, 3.) loving my babies.
There is a slow, quiet resurrection coming—I can feel it. I don’t know how or when it will come, but my soul aches like a bad knee before a storm which only means one thing: deliverance is on its way.
So, I keep lacing up my running shoes. I run through the early morning darkness and I look at the stars. They brightly shine regardless of whether my life is falling apart. In some strange way, this gives me comfort.
And I feel the quiet resurrection every time I write. When I bleed out words, the pain eases back a bit.
I went to Mass last week and I tasted Jesus on my tongue. He forgave me and I forgave myself.
I lace up my running shoes and afterwards, I feel a high that surpasses religious ecstasy. This running, it is a gift and I marvel.
Yes, I’m walking through the valley of shadow but at night I can see the little stars through my window.
I am being saved by little things: my twins running through grass, orange flowers planted near a gas station, a funny little woman under an umbrella, birds singing outside my window.
…”here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest things right and doing all for love.” –St. Therese of “The Little Way”
I cling to this Little Way and I run. I run, I run, I run.