Somehow this Thanksgiving I found myself encapsulated in some sort of selfdom. Hard to describe and not very comfortable. My son appears to be fully incorporated into his girlfriend’s life and family, my brother and his family each have their own aspects to life and yet I am outside of things. If there are any conflicts, issues or discrepancies I am outside of them. Consequently I am also outside of their joys, celebrations and warmth. How did this happen?
I was raised by a kind of distant yet demanding father. It was not until very late in his life did I feel he actually needed or wanted any love I had for him. It was an odd thing but happy nonetheless.
This is different. As though I have spun off the orbit of their lives. Maybe this is what happens when a child (having grown to adult) chooses the life they prefer to live. It’s good I think to understand this. So much of my life I bounced off walls and doorways trying to find my way until I actually saw myself as I was and could then better adapt and change. Until that happens no one can make any kind of progress. They just stay in their own space, spinning and spinning, wasting time and energy until the light dawns and they are able to see themselves for who they are, what they have been and where they are. How they got there isn’t important, blackouts happen whether you drink or not. The important thing is to get your bearings, find your course and steer for it. It’s good to include others with you on this voyage but sometimes a lot of it is solo. And it is gradual.
The hardest thing, I think, is to see what God did for us in Jesus Christ. We selfish humans cannot fathom such love as someone wanting us so badly to be free of anything that encumbers our spirit that he would assume the responsibility and pay the penalty.Somehow God can do this for us but we cannot do it for others or ourselves. Frederick Buechner says this far better than I in his book, Wishful Thinking, then again in Beyond Words:
“What is new about the New Covenant, therefore, is not the idea that God loves the world enough to bleed for it, but the claim that here he is actually putting his money where his mouth is. Like a father saying about his sick child, ‘I’d do anything to make you well,’ God finally calls his own bluff and does it. Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross where God did it is the central symbol of New Covenant faith. So what? Does the suffering of the father for the sick child make the sick child well? In the last analysis, we each have to answer for ourselves.”
Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, by Buechner, Frederick. Harper & Row, Publishers, (c) 1973. Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith, by Frederick Buechner. Harper San Francisco, Publishers (c) 2004