Sunday morning. I've been back from vacation for two days. It's mid-August, prelude to September, when the cycle of school and serious work and life accelerates and things have to get done. The sense of peace and calm I cultivated while doing nothing but reading, writing, swimming, and eating for five days did not survive the drive home. When we switched from listening to CD's to listening to the car radio, the news was of bomb plots foiled and continued turmoil in Lebanon. Bills in the mail, a cell phone on the blink (necessitating an encounter with a cell phone salesman), paperwork for school enrollment, family stuff, and ninety minutes at the movie theatre watching "Barnyard" have ganged up on me here at home. I am back to feeling like a frightened, foolish woman, who does not have a hard enough head or a thick enough skin to survive the real world.
Is it better to not read the paper, not listen to the radio, and to avoid animated kids’ movies? What difference does it make to the world if I have an opinion on the polarization of American politics or on healthcare reform? Even if I launch that opinion into the blogosphere, who will care, especially if that opinion is expressed quietly, in nuanced language, with respect for those with other ideas? And on the home front, can someone like me, who can't even achieve mastery over the weeds--the big ones--in the backyard, make sense of health insurance, retirement accounts, or the best deals on phones and internet access?
I suppose this next paragraph could be the one where I take refuge in spiritual insight, or at least in a spiritual question, a spiritual slant on life that transcends the mundane stress and despair of daily living. Something about eternal truth or nothing new under the sun. I could call up imagery from my vacation on that island in Lake Michigan, where the view of water stretching to the horizon and clouds floating in the infinite sky above never fails to invoke in me the psalmist's reaction to a similar sight: "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens."
But how do I fall back on that love as a safety net in a world where plenty of sentient human beings just like me starve or die from AIDS or watch their children suffer and get into enormous trouble? Disaster can follow disaster within even one small life. My own future holds plenty of questions marks, and I know it is arrogant and wrong to see one's own prosperity as a sign of God's favor. Or to view one’s troubles as God’s wrath or judgment. It’s not just theologically simplistic, it’s dangerous.
I started this post with my morning coffee, but it is now early evening. I’ve been to church, been to lunch, had a beer, and finished off two (count them, two!) tedious tasks that took too much time. I’ve been busy, trying to pack down my anxiety one step at a time.
The sermon this morning, by the excellent Craig Satterlee, circled around two themes: that a little knowledge of God can limit our ability to experience all that God is, and that God is super-substantial, far more than we can know.
So I must go back and reconsider that love stretching to the infinite heavens. It is more than justice, more than right or wrong, beyond loss or gain or human success or sorrow. It is infinitely small as well as bigger than the universe. Specific and universal. It may not give me the confidence to confront life’s petty details and come out a winner. But if I take a deep breath, stop rehearsing my own worries over and over again in my mind, and go fold some laundry, I think I will remember that it is enough. It is more than enough.