Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things To Be Grateful For

I've got all my hair. I never thought I would think to be grateful for that. Why would I not have all my hair? But men lose their hair. It's in my family. I was just rubbing my head, and it occurred to me that I had my hair, and that I might lose it.

Hair is just an odd thing. When I was little I had white hair. Not common, so I stood out. My brothers were quite cruel about it. I still can't comprehend the malice behind it. Aren't brothers supposed to love each other? Seems like it's too late, now. Anyways.

Today there was some news about possible good news. For some family members. A blessing, then. How rare. But it puts God in a new light. Not only about harshness. There are occasional blessings, perhaps -- other than the rain falling on the good and the bad -- those environmental blessings that come from living in a body. These come in equal proportion with the curses of living in a body. We know that life is not a zero sum game, though. The fact of the existence of intelligence, and spirit, makes life not so much an equation -- since both sides do not balance, in the end ... we start with nothing and end with something -- as an expression.

I understand that things are not as they seem. There must be powers working out of sight, for good and for ill. I know that God, somehow, reacts differently depending on what we ask of him. Humanly speaking, of course. I know that everybody deserves what they get. All things work to the good of those who love him, and for those who don't love him, they deserve what they get. That the evil prosper now redounds to their greater punishment, later.

But in my weakness, is there no comfort? Is it only biblical saints who get relief when they call out in their misery? Eventual relief? Like Job in his ashes? I'm not strong enough to be Job.

Mental anguish is self-generated, and self-sustaining. Someone else would shrug it off and get on with life. We allow even the strong some moments of shock and confusion, before they gather themselves together and act heroically. Others wallow in dysfunction as if it were a pleasant thing to do. And I don't think that God rescues anyone who chooses to lie with pigs. I think God makes us more sensitive to the stink of it, though -- those whom he will eventually bless. Smelling the stink, then, is a kind of blessing. Oh that God, he's a subtle one.

We can bear it all, then, if we have hope that it will end. End well, that is. I am pretty self-destructive. I suppose I learned to hate myself as much as I was hated, as a child. Sort of pathetic. I coped by folding in on myself. Books and isolation. It served its function, but it's no longer an adaptive strategy. Does God rescue us from our habits? Only by letting us smell the stink.

Now my hair has darkened, somewhat. Ash blond, I'm told. The color of ashes. And it's turning white again, at the temples. Temple, from the Latin, tempus, time. It's the place where time marks a man, as with winter snow or mountain ash. In a decade or two I'll have white hair again. Hopefully, if there be cause for hope, I'll be surrounded by loved ones, perhaps a wife, perhaps a new family, perhaps grandchildren from my wonderful son. There's a way, in fact, that I'm a grandfather already. But I never have and never will see that child, or those children.

Ah well. No telling what the future will bring. Having a future at all must count as a blessing.



chuck e. boy said...

Read John 5 again the other day.

Put the emphasis on the word "want" in verse 6, instead of the word "healed" as is so often the case.

Made all the difference in the world.

jack h said...


That's always how I've read it.