Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Until Then

Death loss
is not what I thought, not what they taught. Yes, it’s grief
and tragedy. It’s sadness and sympathy.
But not so much over
your death
as over

your life

that I didn’t know,

that you never showed,

that maybe no one knew,

not even you.

All your greatness, hidden by shame.
All your heartbreak, hidden with blame.
All in ashes. Only worn out jokes and guitars remain.
Nothing risked, but all is stained.

I wonder if now you see clearly, and what you would say
now that you see, and who you would be
now that you’re free, and how things would be different
back then if you had not been

hidden.

But I’ll see you again.
Until then
I miss you, Dad. I always have.

Deep Calls to Deep

I prefer to write about innocuous truth. You know, then I don’t have to get naked.

But perhaps the truest thing about us is the most personal, the most vulnerable—our desire to connect and be known. I tend to be pretty ambivalent about it, really. But then at times, I am ambushed by that desire so powerfully that I have to confront it. Last night was such a time.

Often for me, like last night, it comes after spending time in community when no true knowing has taken place. Conversations about food, the economy, and the weather are paramount. And we all remain unknown. And safe. And then boom. Suddenly I want to do something self-destructive and reckless, like an angsty teenager. I feel unsatisfied and restless.

I wonder, if we could all just learn to recognize and name that longing, a longing for intimacy, how much senseless tragedy would be reduced. Would there be less drunk driving, less affairs, less eating-disorders, less suicide? Probably not. Because awareness doesn’t fix the problem. We’d still be unsatisfied—we’d just know why—we’re not getting our deepest need met. So, what do we do with the problem of deep desire?

There’s the obvious choice: repression. Don’t feel, don’t desire. Keep busy. Self-preservation. Seems to be the thing in our culture. I even feel weird writing this because I’d rather play it cool or make a joke—that’s how my family has dealt with it. Laugh it off. But then, the truest thing about you dies.

Then there’s the option of trying to get that need met in counterfeit and harmful ways, or trying to force others to meet that need for you. Addiction. Manipulation. Come to think of it, that’s my family too. And this is what I have seen most often in the therapy office. The aftermath of it, that is.

To be honest, I don’t even think most of us know how to connect or be known. It’s freaking scary—to be known. Most of us opt out. We push people away or hold them off in so many ways, but mostly we just don’t know how. What if we all confessed that we have this deep desire that’s not being met? Would it be okay to talk about? Because if we start talking about our deepest desire, there’s a chance we might begin to feel known.

But it seems to me that this desire can be so deep that I could eat and eat and drink and drink and never get enough. I think we have to learn to live with this desire—to let it be the symptom that tells us we are alive and part of the struggling human race, and let it lead us to the recognition that we are far from home. It is a homesickness that touches us when things are not as they should be, or when it feels like home here. In pains and pleasures, the deep calls, reminding us of the truest thing about us. And really, the call is to risk being known now, as we are, naked.

"Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." from Psalm 42