I know I’m hurting right now. I can reach up and feel the end of my rope. I haven’t been this low in a long time. There have been some visceral moments in the last month or so. Feeling alive, feeling loved, underscored with the persistent sadness, the ecclesiastical despair, the voice that incessantly, insistently cries–meaningless, meaningless, it is all meaningless!
So where does that leave me? I wonder if I’ve shielded myself, somehow, closed myself off for the past year. I wonder if I tried to become numb, and succeeded only in self-indulging my own misery. I wonder if I’ve drifted, jettisoned, disconnected from a truth of which my soul has never let go. It will be painful, it will be beautiful, and it will be worth it.
Death has always been my greatest hope, but until then, I dare to live up until the very end. If that means wrestling with the chronic illnesses of my mind and body, so be it. If that means more bad days than good, so be it. If that means losing hope, feeling weak, wandering in the wilderness of my own mind in order to be found by the voice of God, whispering to my soul in the middle of the night–may I wander far, may the night be black, may my sorrow be deep, and God may your voice ever be soothing and sweet.
I am tired. I am weary. I am empty. God be my strength, God be my peace, God grant me faith. Help me believe. Fill me with hope to offer to others. Let me love extravagantly, indiscriminately, excessively. There is so much that I haven’t yet had the chance to grieve. In my grieving, let there be a measure of joy, of peace, in offering and receiving community from others. I trust your Spirit.
I believe in magic. I believe symbols are powerful reminders of the truth I cling to, the truths my soul desperately curls itself around because it is the only comfort it knows. Sometimes it’s a color. Sometimes it’s a poem or a quote. Sometimes it is the setting sun. These symbols, these images that draw my gaze and guide it upward, are an essential part of how I practice my faith. I change what I keep before me–my phone background, the signature line on my text messages, the colors and themes on my laptop. The Spirit moves, and I am compelled to respond accordingly, to look and think and consider. Unorthodox, maybe–but the only promise I’ve made is honesty, and that’s the one I’m keeping.
Life is black and grey and white right now. My head-space, my heartache, has been a seemingly endless monochromatic winter, with only one other color at a time to alter, to accent, the otherwise bleak landscape. Right now that color is navy blue, a deep cerulean, the dark underneath the waves where the last fingers of sunlight strain to reach. That blue is my reminder to be brave. To be bold. To take courage. To risk giving more than I think I have, to risk letting go of my own hurts and trust that healing will come even while I care for others.
My color is blue, and I keep my eyes on the skull. Death dares to take away life, to steal joy, to disorient us, to pursue relentlessly until we are caught in its jaws, to laugh even as it swallows us whole. Death will come for me in the end. I don’t know how or when, but it will deliver me from the suffering of this body, this mind, to a final rest where my soul will at last be at ease. I long for that day more often than not.
I’ve tried to rush toward Death’s embrace more than once. I’ve courted that dance and have been denied. It took a lot of balls to make up my mind and decide I was going to die. And I believe it takes just as much effort, just as much daring and bravery and courage, to decide that I won’t. These are the choices I make moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, until at last I am allowed to return home. I will hurt. I will heal. I will grieve. I will rejoice. I will live.
And when I die, Death and I will both be laughing.