Saturday, February 14, 2015

Blog anniversary: Keep typing

There are four typed-out quotations posted on the bulletin board in my office. Three have been there for a long time. I added a new one yesterday. It comes from a collection of quotes from David Carr, the New York Times media journalist who died a few days ago:
Keep typing until it turns into writing.

That, my friends, has been the motto and the method of this blog for nine years. Start something and see where it goes by typing, editing and  reworking. At some point, maybe, it becomes something that communicates, that might mean something to others. More importantly, at some point I can read it back and discover what I believe.

Because, truly, I can't say I believe much--not in that way we so often take "believe" to mean certainty, or intellectual assent to ideas bronzed into a creed. Like many a Christian child I was told what to believe, or even "what we believe." The challenge then was to make my life, actions, feelings, fit the outline and all its proscribed categories, line breaks, and indents.

But alas, the older I get, the less willing I am to submit to orthodoxy, or to settle for it, at least in matters of faith. I don't feel compelled to express myself in clothing, or accessories, or sparkly phone cases. But I do log in at The Perverse Lutheran to type, hoping it will turn into something I can trust my heart to—my bruised and broken heart.

I type questions. I type experiences. I type anger (though perhaps not as much anger as I feel). I listen to the words and change them until their rhythm matches the ideal heard in the distance. I move sentences around, I point out the dissonance. I hope it leads to a resolution that is sweet, surprising, true.

Today was the funeral of an old friend and a reader of this blog. After two years of cancer treatment she'd had enough. It was her time to die, in the peace of God.

But I, as a living person, was angry with death today, and promises of life everlasting in the funeral service meant very little. It's like that part in the Apostles' Creed where we say we believe in "the resurrection of the body." I always think, what does that mean anyway?

The committal was in the church's Memorial Garden, a cold and blustery place on this Saturday afternoon in February. Finally, in the second reading graveside I heard words that made some sense to me:
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.

That comes from the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians, and there's more of it, right on through verse 18:
What can be seen is temporary, what cannot be seen is eternal. (v. 18) 

Another of the quotes on my bulletin board, this one from many years ago, says:
Tell the truth. Don't decorate. Remember death.

I don't remember where it's from. I liked the bluntness, though I think the bluntness is a little pretentious, or at least pretentious on my bulletin board. What do I know of truth? And I'm happy to ignore the fact that all things must die.

Yet I keep typing, and sometimes, if it turns into writing, testing those words against the truth of my heart, shows me what this perverse Lutheran believes.

Though afflicted, perplexed, and remembering death, I believe that God's grace is ever-present. Today it arrived in words from scripture. Sometimes it arrives in a gesture from a friend, or the love of my children. Once memorably in this blog, it was in the bright red tree outside my front window.

I keep typing.

This blog began sometime around Transfiguration Sunday in 2006, and I mark its anniversary not by the date, but by the liturgical occasion. There's been more than one post through the years inspired by death and funerals. Perhaps I'll challenge myself to think happy thoughts on Ash Wednesday. Suitably perverse? Anyway, thanks for reading. 

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