Except anger. I remember the one about anger.
I'm holding onto that one. It's the one where I identify the stuff I'm swimming in as anger. Others might identify the mess around them as the chaos of a messy world. Someone else, blessed with a happier temperament, might recognize love in the air and water that give life. But my default position is I'm mad. I'm mad that the world is the way it is, that people die and leave me, that there are constant struggles for power and ascendancy among the people I live with.
No news here, really. Everyone dies, we all know people who die. Some of those deaths are more outrageous and meaningless than others, but each one is a surprise to someone. Things fall apart despite how hard we work at holding them together, no matter how successful or unsuccessful are at asserting our own power. We must go on living.
I saw "Tree of Life" the other night. The opening voiceover is a meditation on Nature and Grace. I see a contradiction; my son says they're both God. Whatever they are, they were the ether of the movie, there in the damp green suburban grass, in the flames and water of creation. When they brush up against each other, Nature and Grace, there are flares of energy. What nature will do, grace will forgive.
Many years ago someone older and wiser introduced me to the idea of righteous anger, anger fully justified by the circumstances, anger that should not be hidden or extinguished, but put to use, because God is present in that anger. Up to that point the words that attached themselves to anger in my head were in sentences like "Anger gets you nowhere" or "Anger never did any good for anybody."
That would be faithless thinking, in the face of anger over deep and existential contradictions between death and life, brokenness and righteousness. God is at the dividing line between these things, reconciling them, making them one.