Monday, November 5, 2007

Binding and Loosing

I mentioned it just in passing. The imminence of my son's return has unsettled me. You'd think, as self-obsessed as I appear to be, I'd have understood what it has all been about. But I haven't.

In the space of eight months I lost three sons. Two forever, one for these five and a half years. I never looked at it like that before. Pardon my tender tears.

But now something is returning to me. I find my spirit moving. I find the growth of hope. I find myself loosening my grip, my death grip on whatever it is I've been holding on to. I'm relaxing.

I pulled away from any meaningful human contact. I used to take pleasure in the presence of children. I've ignored them for years now. Then I found myself, a couple of days ago, thinking maybe I'd come to the kids bjj class and help out. Probably not -- don't want to overstep my bounds, but the idea is meaningful in itself. Sometimes young dads will bring their kids to the class. I've ignored the kids. Not my business. But I find myself smiling because they're there.

And women. Why not? Socially, I mean. I'm thinking about it. It just wasn't an option before.

Even risking the obnoxious and constant homotalk that I expect from the Starbucks crowd. It really can't be all they talk about. There must be something worthwhile in them. Maybe I'd get lucky? I mean it must be a sort of public space. Maybe they have a sense place? Because they're not actually idiots. Just their conversation is, from what I can tell. Tonight it was a whole Abbott and Costello routine about how much buck sounds like fuck. Homo, of course. Classic. I guess I'm not as relaxed as all that yet.

And as I say, the right arm problem is completely gone. Who would have believed that healing is possible? I'm ready to compete again. There's something casual at the start of December -- same as last year. I'll be the oldest one there. Punks. By then I'll be a chi master, and the power of my jing will astound them all. Just like in that movie that I didn't see, about crouching and hiding animals. Which is what I've been for five years.

Over five years. That is a long time. Almost one quarter of my son's life will have been spent serving his country in the US military. Of course it's only a tenth of my lifetime. What have I been serving?

Not all prisons have bars, and not all sentences are imposed by judges. Not all guilt comes from crimes. Sometimes it comes from loving and being human. And we bind ourselves to despair until time or grace might free us. What a world, where it takes injustice to teach us patience. Maybe someday we'll understand why. Until then, we remember to breathe, to relax into the pain, to cherish kindness and to overlook the failings of those whom we count as friends.

Maybe I will go to Starbucks.


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