Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Peace and Rest?

In life no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say?
Heav'n was His home
But mine the tomb
Wherein He lay.

Just saying, I want home. According to my sinful condition, I am dissatisfied and I want to be satisfied now. But God's time is perfect. Truly, "mine was the tomb wherein He lay" just as His was the Heaven to whence I go by Christ's grace. If I feel homesick now, I know that my homesickness was itself taken up by Jesus in His life. And the time away from home, even the dull ache of separation is not meaningless or for no purpose. So I will try to occupy this time in doing what it was set aside to do - even if my soul is once more restless, seemingly longing for lands southwest. Sometimes, I am suspicious whether I deceive myself in thus identifying the restless longing. Or to put it another way, what am I really yearning for? Am I simply afraid to name the source and end of my longing for fear of what that would mean? Am I simply unwilling to face what that would (in my perception) cost me? Could it be, like Dr. Patrick said today, that I am thankful to God for salvation so that now I can go do my own thing? I love to set the agenda (have since I wrote agendas for 4H meetings). I hate not having a plan, a list of things to do which I think are reasonable, with which I concur, which I can carry out just as I see fit. This is just as true when someone else sets the agenda - if I can work alone and do the job they assign in my own way, I'm fine, even if I grumble a bit. But I don't like uncertainty. I don't being vulnerable. I like plan B, C, D down through Z. Even if I in certain situations I don't look farther than the next day, it is because in the grand scheme of things, the situation doesn't matter that much to me, not because I want to be governed by another. I like other authorities to make out the plan - you see, I'm lazy - but I want the 'freedom' to do as I please with the plan.
But how does one then live? I'm not talking about action, but attitude which surely informs action. However, I cannot fix the action without fixing the attitude. Yet I lack the power to fix the attitude. Further, I'm not even certain that I understand even what the proper attitude looks like, what it would be. To be Buberish, I think that I long to stand in relation. Yet to stand in relation is to be vulnerable. I want to see God face to face through clear, bullet-proof plastic. I want to treat Him as an "It"- a Thing, a thing that I take from, that I experience, an object of a goal directed verb whose subject is me. But as long as the shield is up, as long as I'm in 'experiencing mode' and not in 'relation of being mode' (to use Martin Buber expressions as I understand them) I cannot "enjoy" (in St. Augustine sense) the relation I long for.

I can't go on (writing or thinking). This might make no sense. I know what I mean, but how, oh how delicately is meaning bound up in packets of sound, in symbols on a page! Here is the mystery of human communication: not only can we express volition to one another or intent to act, but somehow mysteriously we are given the grace to formulate Ideas and abstract pictures and not only formulate them, but also share them precariously with other humans through a heavily nuanced medium. Language is simple, yet not so. It's beauty lies in representation. One of the cruelest, basest twists of the rack of contemporary culture on language is reducing all words to mean nothing.
We have used both sacred speech and vulgarity as a metaphor; now neither sacred nor vulgar mean anything but ejaculations for the sake of noise of some creature whose only form of communication is emoting through such things. We have not given words new meanings: we have taken their meaning from them. In meaning anything and everything that the speaker feels, the words mean nothing.

Oh, is even this expressed? Am I communicating? It is not the words that fail me. It is I that have failed the words. If one uses a bucket as a hammer or a hoe as a bread-knife, what does one achieve but the breaking of these tools. We have failed to understand the function proper to each word. We have bent them to other uses. No wonder they fail us.

Uh, Oh. Supper Time. ...


Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Yes, Truth Questioner, you are communicating. Your words are not meaningless or nonsensical, but thoughtful and provocative.

Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us.

elizabeth said...

S - as one who was an English Major and who loved Lit Theory - please do not ever fall for the philosophical idea that really, after centuries of time, communication and books, we can't really communicate properly if at all. the very fact that they are articulating thier belief in non-communication and thereby communicationg thier belief.

sorry for the rant, but that particular part of theory always get's me, as it were.

about the rest, don't worry. try to enjoy the rest of your time here. my Mother has told me many times that i am to enjoy each stage of my life as each stage only happens once. you will be home so very soon and Ottawa really is far away. try to be present to where you are...

part of your feeling of restlessness also maybe just your life changing as you discover new ideas and try to readjust your life to include them...

take good care! :)

TruthQuestioner said...

Thanks Pastor.
I struggle because there are so many thoughts inside all snarled up in a mess - like yarn or spaghetti. I can't untangle them while they're still in my head - that would be like trying to straighten out a ball of yarn while it's inside a ziploc bag - I've got to get it outside of my head, into words, where I can deal with the various lines of thought. But when I try to put the scrambled lines of thought into words, I struggle. I struggle to find the right words, the right word order, etc, to fully express the idea. I can't externally deal with the idea if I don't accurately translate it into words. So often, I feel like I fail. I look back at what I have said or written and see that the words themselves do not fully convey what I tried so hard to capture. Instead of untangling the spaghetti, I seem to have morphed the noodles into ramen and bowties. And ramen and bowties - while fascinating pasta - are not the spaghetti or angel hair that I hoped to finally lay out straight. :P

Thanks Elizabeth. I actually haven't delved into Literary Theory at all, but I do agree that we (humans) can communicate properly. However, (on the basis of communication) the essence of what we communicate is largely dependent on how words are understood. Often (it seems)there are cultural barriers, personal connotations and a lot of other baggage that attaches itself to words, distracting from the essential idea an author tried to express. There are definitely few things more beautiful or more delicate than communication. The fact that it DOES work is a mystery to me - a beautiful Divine gift. It is a mystery made all the more beautiful because our God is Himself the Word. The Word - communication in relation. Enigmatic in itself, the Word becomes exponentially more so because He became Flesh. Such fragile things are words and flesh, yet sustained by God. (But perhaps these are not in reality more fragile than all others, only we are able to recognize more easily their fragility.)
This semester I've come to recognize increasingly that I do a great disservice to myself and act arrogantly toward an author/thinker/painter/etc. if I approach his work by simply glancing over it to glean a general impression. If an Artist (literary or otherwise) is worth reading or contemplating at all, he is worth spending the time to understand - to follow through his choice of words, colors, sequence. If I were to read the story quickly or glance at the painting once it would be the utmost arrogance: for me to suppose that at a superficial overview I truly understand what an author purposely struggled to convey seems to me to discount the energy and earnestness he spent in attempting to translate the twisted threads of ideas into a beautiful interwoven tapestry.
This cannot be easy. It is relatively easy to leave an impression: it is far more difficult to leave the impression that you intend to leave.
And to leave more than the impression, but every detail and line of the image also, is an even higher and more demanding art to which though aspiring, I am as yet far from attaining.

And as usual, I digress. :)