Tuesday, July 27, 2010

she's seen all the classics/she knows every line

Hide and seek
1-2-3-4-5
but what if the
seek has hidden
what if the
hidden is seeking
6-7-8-9
what if they are both
cave-dark and
whisper-stark
10
and i'm left going
in sweaty circles?

Last week on the youth group beach trip, I started getting slammed with sudden pangs of longing -- kind of like the ache I get when I haven't been in water for too long, or when I realize that Christmas is flying by and I can't quite grasp it -- but also new, and different, and frustratingly unknowable but very, very sharp. "Water, oceans, family, food, freedom... drinking in something," I wrote, but really I still don't know what they mean. I can't tell if I am longing for something that I've already had or something that I haven't found yet. Maybe both. It's weird.

Through this off-kilter day-to-day, I've been on a bit of a Frederick Buechner kick. (By "kick," I mean I've had Rob Spach's copy of "The Sacred Journey" for about 11 months, and hadn't gotten around to reading it until last week. Don't worry, Rob, I'll bring it back!)

Frederick, we're on the same page, you and me:

"God speaks to us through our lives, we often too easily say. Something speaks anyway, spells out some sort of godly or godforsaken meaning to us through the alphabet of our years, but often it takes many years and many further spellings out before we start to glimpse, or think we do, a little of what that meaning is. Even then we glimpse it only dimly, like the first trace of dawn on the rim of night, and even then it is a meaning that we cannot fix and be sure of once and for all because it is always incarnate meaning and thus as alive and changing as we are ourselves alive and changing."

As alive and changing as we are alive and changing.

Sometimes I think, "does this summer count? I mean, yeah, I'm working an internship and meeting new people and driving around and finding my way, but heartfully, and mindfully, and movingforwardly, I'm lost and sticky and stuck in the claustrophobic humidity. My thoughts bounce around in my head and don't seem to get much of anywhere except I don't know. So this is just some kind of alternate universe, right? Frozen in carbonite for a little bit. I'll get an idea, I'll have a plan and that will push me forward, make me feel completely alive again.

"Right?"

I picture a house, an apartment, a village, a farmer's market, a gym, a church, a pool, a pumpkin patch, a birthday party, a home... places and people and moments that I miss being within. I miss being in a place that holds my history. I miss moving around and being active (really, I just want autumn to come, crisp, no more down-dragging heat) and meeting people on the cobblestone or in the coffee shop and stopping to talk. I miss planning things for a purpose, and having friends sit in the living room and cook in the kitchen. Comm-unity, come back. (Where do I find these things next, anyway? Where should I go?)

I hate feeling stagnant.

Frederick (and God) would probably chuckle and say -- alive and changing, my dear.

This was not supposed to be a blah-Claire blog, damn it. I actually had/have a purpose, but I guess these thoughts are always so close to the surface these days that it's tough to ignore them when you give me a venue. Okay. Next.

Jamie preached at Pilgrims yesterday, and though I wasn't there to hear it, I read it. Her title made me love it immediately: "A Story People." And then I read it and loved it more.

"... Think of gatherings, family gatherings, friend gatherings, community gatherings, they revolve around stories being shared and stories being made. We have stories that we pass on, we pass down, the story of who we are as a person, and who we are as a people."

She talks about the story of the Road to Emmaus (which I also remember fondly because Mejin found a way to make it incredibly applicable to the Kansas game in her WCW reflection post-Elite Eight); how Jesus appears to the disciples on the road but they do not recognize him, how they think they are talking to a stranger when they recount the horrific occurences of the last week. "It is interesting," Jamie writes, "that their story has the ability to blind them. Jesus is right in front of them, after all. But they can't see him."

Then, she says, "Jesus tells his story, his story through the scriptures. Their hearts are burning, perhaps the transformation is beginning. It seems that our stories need to be shared, challenged, re-analyzed for their transformative power to be realized. We need the stranger to counter us, to shake up what we think we know, and shed new light on our own stories... I like to think that it is this exchange of stories that has the power to reveal Jesus in our midst. To change our very fear, anxieties, and sadness into hope and possibilities."

Since school got out, I have been typing up my college journals. It's laborious and tedious and may not seem like much of an important project next to finding a job or cleaning my room, but I'm doing it for the sake of the story. I'm doing it to remember, to see how life happened in my eyes, to watch myself change, to recognize my words and the emotions and actions within them as alive and changing, just as I am alive and changing. I do not look at what I wrote in the same eyes that I did when I wrote them, but day to day to day shifted me there and there and there. How does that happen? It feels almost like one of those sped-up real-time videos of a flower blooming -- except a much, much slower process.

"[God] speaks, not just through the sounds we hear, of course, but through events in all their complexity and variety, through the harmonies and disharmonies and counterpoint of all that happens," Buechner says.

I'm typing and rereading, all with the point and hope of telling -- and somehow sharing -- the story. When I was younger, I poured myself into fiction, seventeen floppy disks full of short stories that I never finished once I got past the exotic names from my baby names book. I didn't know how to keep the momentum, to find substance. Granted, I was young. But even when I took a fiction writing class in college, I felt like I didn't have much new to say, or new lessons to give, and every character I wrote was a dim version of myself or someone I knew.

The story I have to tell, and can tell best right now, is this part of my story, the past four years. It is vivid and full and confused and innocent and blunt and funny and abounding with PEOPLE that I met and came to love. I'm really curious to see what it will look like when I have it all in one place, pages and pages and pages of days that somehow pushed me forward to where I am.

But I don't want my story to blind me, and I feel like I'm letting it, maybe because I feel like it's all I have to hold on to right now, and it's an easy way to feel close to what I'm missing. Not too much transformation in that. Somehow, I want to share. Because holy crap do I have fears, and anxieties, and sadness, and lord do I want them to be transformed into hope and possibility.

I'm tired. My room is a wreck. I thought being done with college would mean I had a lighter to do list and would be better at crossing things off (I know, I don't know why I thought this). My head hurts. I stay up too late and get up too early. I'm sticky and lazy. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss breezy dogwood N. Decatur Rd and I miss green grass comfy cobbled Main St. I want to DO something.

(Frederick, once more:) "For the reader, I suppose, it is like looking through someone else's photograph album. What holds you, if nothing else, is the possibility that somewhere among all those shots of people you never knew and places you never saw, you may come across something or someone you recognize. In fact -- far more curious things have happened -- even in a stranger's album, there is always the possibility that as the pages flip by, on one of them you may even catch a glimpse of yourself."

I want to tell stories. That's what I want to do.

So, where to?

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