Monday, March 26, 2012


My husband will be dead 3 months in 3 days. Yesterday I watched ted talks categorized under comedy. I probably learned as much from Emily Levine's talk "Theory of Everything" as I've ever understand about anything. She's a trickster - an agent of change. Her comedy crosses boundaries encouraging people to hold ideas lightly to let in room for new ideas and contradictions - a new way of seeing through creating different connections in the brain.

Stephen and I believed it was extremely important to be rational, stoic and valued whatever it was in the English psyche that enabled them to endure through WWI & WWII. When I was picking out which of Stephen's theology books to keep, I chose the systematic theologians writing during those war years.

We were so in our heads that neither one of us could tell when we were sick, when we were injured. In all the years I was married to Stephen, I never made a doctor's appointment because I was in pain or I was ill. Now I'm thinking that what may have killed Stephen was that neither one of us ever considered that perhaps Stephen should have swung by emergency on Christmas eve after he hit the raccoon. Stephen didn't even mention the incident to me that night. Even if he had, he would have said he was fine; I would have believed he was fine; he would have told the doctor he was fine; the doctor would have believed he was fine - the result being that going to the hospital wouldn't have ended with a scan of his aorta. Maybe the accident had nothing to do with his death. Maybe it was the beginning of his death. Maybe the autopsy will give answers. Maybe it won't. It's too late for Stephen. It won't bring him back but knowing might save me. Maybe the mind shouldn't say I'm fine without having a consult with the body and respecting its wisdom as well.

But like I said, I packed the systematic theologians. I like living in the head and being clueless about the body. Both Stephen and I had mothers who were always sick. We didn't have carefree childhoods. Neither one of us was up to feeling any more anxiety about the health of a loved one. We were both always fine no matter what happened because it was what we most wanted from each other and from ourselves. The parish and Diocesan expectation is that the clergy family will do their duty whatever the circumstances. Anne Ortlund wrote,"...feelings come and feelings leave you, but the disciplines of life are what get you to where you want to go." If you aren't aware of her, she's a writer, composer, organist, speaker, clergy wife raised in a military family who wrote several books on being a disciplined woman.

Now I'm questioning the value of the dogmatics books I thought I'd spend the rest of my life studying. Those books distanced us from the reality of our being. They kept us in a head space where we could never be hurt, never feel pain, where all could be explained. We thought we had built our lives upon a rock - the space where theology and science crossed.

So today, I'm going back to those bookcases that I had so carefully arranged with the books I'd take with me to a desert island. What books lead to the truth? Do I pack philosophy? Do I pack fiction? Is it poetry? Does it have anything to do with books at all? Perhaps truth and reality lie in places where I will never go because truth and reality may be the stuff of nightmares and not a thing of beauty. If it's a choice between a well-turned sentence and just about anything else, I'll chose the words. I still believe that the power to create and sustain the universe rests in the power of words. "And God said, let there be light and there was light." "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."

No comments: