Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Words Fly Up

I‘m feeling exhausted these days, exhausted with life’s worn-out struggle. I barely bother to call it a struggle anymore; it’s a fight that’s softened into capitulation, resignation. An old ache, a war wound that never heals. What’s the point in trying? You know that most of the time I’m not really trying. I am a Claudius of the heart – afraid of the punishment but unwilling to repent the offense: “Bow, stubborn knees!”

But Claudius says “words without thoughts never to heaven go”. Hate to disagree with the Bard, but go they do, words without thoughts, words with thoughts, words muttered in the dark in the obscure fog of drunkenness, words uttered without our consent in dreams, words rising unbidden into our heads that we never speak aloud. Every one of them is known in Heaven, is in God’s mind and is woven somehow into what he allows to transpire in this wheat-and-tares world.

How frightening that all my desperate thoughts, thoughtless remarks, small-souled sarcasms, all my puffed-up pronouncements and glib, indifferent toss-offs are audible there. How certain I am that, at this point, they outweigh by a thousand whatever sweet, comforting or edifying words have ever passed my lips.

Indeed, our thoughtless words ring through heaven like, as Ophelia said, “sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh”. Somehow they echo from one end of eternity to the other and at last, by some miracle, ricochet themselves into praise.

They do this, I suspect, by proclaiming, trumpeting, our contingency, as Thomas Merton said. We give glory to God by our contingency: the very fact that, in and of ourselves, we cannot be wholly good. We can’t be whole at all. This very fact, declared loudly in our every thoughtless word, is deliverance and peace to us if we can accept and receive it in the context of God’s love.

For myself, I think of it as “throwing myself at God”, like a determined baseball pitcher practicing, over and over again, trying to perfect the exit of myself from myself: “I can’t do this right, Lord. Look, I’ve messed it up again. Here – you take it, you have it; I can’t fix it.” And I throw myself at God. Fling myself at Mercy, straight between shoulders and knees, so fast you can’t even see it. And he makes the aim true every time – I land with a dusty, satisfying thump right in the heart of the great Catcher’s mitt -- stee-rike!

We’re not fixed, not perfected, yet (I keep telling my husband: “I’ll be perfect next week”...). But we can aim in the right direction. We can, when we open our mouths and release more idiocy into the atmosphere, turn in God's direction and land our stupid selves in the only place from which it's safe to try again.


At 8:14 pm, January 01, 2006, Blogger Paula said...

Well, well, well...look who finally put some of her thoughts into words that I can access beFORE I get to Heaven and find them ricocheting off the halos and harps?

Excellent thoughts, well timed for me...thank you.

At 11:24 am, January 02, 2006, Anonymous Heather Hiebert said...

For me, too. I don't know, but it seems to me the rush, rush rush of being a mother never ends .. even the holidays now seem more work. I finally understand why my mother always complained about being sick and tired ... she WAS sick and tired!! The words of a speaker from a recent retreat return eerily "You are *never* going to find the rest you crave here on earth until you learn to live at the foot of His cross". Thanks, Diane, for the reminder!


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