We’re giving ourselves to these things, piece by very tiny piece. But before and amid all of that we’re giving ourselves to God and to each other. We’re relearning that we belong to each other already, that all things and people are connected. We’re creating space where we can remember who we are and whose we are — where we know we’re not alone.
I did not know then nor do I know now the full nature of God. No one does, but we’re given glimpses through the revelation of nature, the testament of history and its saints, and especially through the ordinary people who love us and mark our days. As a child my earthly father represented whatever goodness, safety, and unconditional love there was to be found in this world. And that has everything to do with why I call myself a Christian today, and can still refer to God as Father, problematic though it may be for me as a 21st-century woman.
It was a world — a life — that disappeared with divorce and vows gone wrong, as the garden did under the parking lot. With it went the abundant veggies and flowers, the girlfriends' nights of canning and freezing the harvest, a certain style of gathering friends and family around the walnut table.
All the more richly strange that anyone should gather — in both the old way and the new — at the walnut table nicked now with thirty years of feasting which, though it has changed styles, continues. A table hosting faith and doubt, pain and joy, betrayal and commitment.
I find it hard to sit with people.
I wish I meant that I find it hard to sit with people in a cramped room with a broken A/C or in a bad jury trial or even in a hospital waiting room. To my mind this is more understandable. But I mean I find it hard to sit with people in general. Like at a diner for more than half an hour. Or at a party. Or at the dinner table. Or at a park. Or on a walk. My social self, though, operates pretty adroitly, and I can spend hours at a diner or a party or a dinner table and have a pretty good time — it’s just that after awhile, something under my skin starts to crawl.
I did not choose to become a mother because I had dealt with all of my fears. We say yes to new life not because it’s logical, not because we believe we are prepared to handle the brilliance of the pain and the complexity of the relationship. We say yes because of love, which as Pascal said, “has reasons of which reason knows nothing.” Our yes means accepting mortality, feeling life and its frailty in our very bellies.