I got on a bush plane yesterday afternoon with my husband and two school officials and flew over Kodiak Island, through fog and thick swaths of clouds, over snowed mountains, a pod of orcas, the whirlpools of Whale Pass . … to a village, a very small village of maybe 50 people surrounded by wilderness and ocean. You cannot get here by road, only by bush plane or boat. It was graduation day.
Here are the graduates.
This morning I get up with a backache that leaves me hobbling around the house while I get ready for a trip to Anchorage for oral surgery tomorrow. After that I make my yearly migration to fish camp, to Harvester Island, when the fog and clouds abate.
I am soon to sign a contract for my next book and am writing an article on gender identity, and tomorrow is the last day of school in Kodiak, when I'll go and eat hamburgers and play games with the kids, and I'm gathering all the boxes of things I need for the summer at fish camp, and it all feels ordinary, routine, as though I have done each thing more than a thousand times, though some of these I have done only once. Just once. Others more.
Do you know this too, how some nights and weeks our sleep is stolen, how the mind goes numb sometimes, how the eyes stop seeing, how the body aches when we rise, how nothing can surprise us anymore, how we are surrounded by goodness and we cannot feel it . . . ?? Do you know this condition? Do you know this sickness?
It is not the disease called Life, or the condition of Aging. Though I have seen many elderly with the lights gone out and the joy fled far, I have seen it also in the young and middle-aged. And I see it sometimes in the mirror. I saw it this morning. I can even quote a Scripture verse to normalize it: "There is nothing new under the sun."
But I will not let this death have me. Dylan Thomas pleads with us in his famous villanelle, "Do not go gentle into that good night/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light." He is writing about his father in his last days, but this can be us as well.
I am raging right now, sitting here on a double-cushioned stool to ease my back. I am raging right now writing this, and I raged this morning when I opened my Bible and drank in those words, and I rage every time I pick up my camera. We must find ways to find God in our days, for He is the Maker of every one, the Spinner of every hour, the one who ticks the second hand of the clock, delivering Life to us every moment, even when we do not see or hear it.
And how will we wake up so we don't miss it? We are not left alone, unarmed. Through all these weapons for Life, I find Him again this very day:
And here, in my prayer journal,
In my daily bread,
Your eyes? How are they this week? If you have been blind like me, don't stay there. We are not helpless. We can choose to get new eyes. There are so many ways,
And if we cannot find God in our own lives even then, if we are that exhausted, that ill (and sometimes we are), then look for Him in others' lives, in other places. Here is where I looked today:
This interview with a Christian Iraqi girl, asking for forgiveness of ISIS.
In Ann Voskamp's call to help our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, and the 1 - 9 year old girls sold as slaves to the highest bidder.
In Christianity Today, the story of Jeanne Bishop, who helps her clients make amends for their crimes, who is now helping her sister's murderer make amends for his.
And if you still are half-lidded, watch the wonder (and tender-heartedness) of children:
And taste the best medicine I know: laughter. Even if you already are well.
Nothing else has changed today----except me. My eyes are open. I am beginning to see again . … And I pray you as well, dear friends . ...