Quote harvesting: A Grief Observed

I’m in the early days of a new writing project which, for me means reading what lots of other people have already written about the thing I want to write about and then filling many pages with quotes.

(I call it my “quote harvesting” phase, hence the title of this post.)

I read C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed a few weeks ago and spent some unexpected free time on Friday transcribing the passages I highlighted during my first pass through the book.

Here are some that just wrecked me—with a little commentary, if I may.

“I keep on swallowing.” (I love that he found this notable.)

“I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulging it—that disgusts me. And even while I”m doing it I know it leads me to misrepresent H. herself. Give that mood its head and in a few minutes I shall substituted for the real woman a mere doll to be blubbered over. Thank God the memory of  her is still too strong (will it always be too strong?) to let me get away with it.” (The “clean and honest” part cut deep. Feelings—even if they are painful—that can be categorized easily are so much more bearable, in my opinion. Once emotions are layered they are suffocating.)

“It’s hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?” (JUST SAY THE WORD, EVERYONE.)

“One flesh. Or, if you prefer, one ship. The starboard engine has gone. I, the port engine, must chug along somehow till we make harbor. Or rather, till the journey ends. How can I assume a harbour? A lee shore, more likely, a black night, a deafening gale, breakers ahead—and any lights shown from the land probably being waved by wreckers. Such was H.’s landfall. Such was my mother’s. I say their landfalls; not their arrivals.” (I had to look up what “lee shore” meant, and it took me a long time to understand—I don’t have much nautical context from which to pull. Once I got it, wow. I’ll leave you to look it up yourself so you can experience that wallop yourself.)

In the pew with you

We’ve been going to our church since its first service in 2006.

A few years after that, our friends Leah and Jeremiah moved back to Richmond from California and joined our church.

Since moving to our current worship space, they’ve sat near us. In the last few years, we’ve fallen into a rhythm of them sitting, with their two boys, in the pew right behind us.

Today, as we were singing “Great Are You, Lord” I got choked up as I heard them singing along.

Most Sundays, I worship our living God with Leah and Jeremiah’s voices filling up the space behind me. Neither of them sings loudly, but I know their voices from having heard them for years. I can pick them out from everyone else’s. I miss them when they’re not there.

What a thing to have.

New things

I’ve got a new writing project brewing. I’m not sure what it’ll will look like, but it’s shaping up to be a look at God’s presence in the midst of our suffering.

Right now I’m doing two things:

1) Writing down every stray thought I have that’s even tangentially related to the subject.

2) Making lists of all of the books, articles, sermons, etc. that I want to read.

I’ve realized that those two things have to happen before I do anything else. It feels like packing for a trip, but I’m not sure where I’m going or how long I’ll be there–best take everything with me.

Cosmos to Chaos

I wrote a series of letters to members of my church that were inspired by Madeleine L’Engles Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

I hope to move them all over here soon, but until then, you can find them here–just read through the first one and click through the subsequent posts to read them in order.

Waiting, always

I live in a state of constant anticipation. An ever-present hurricane churns in my gut, spreading to my ribs and wrapping around my heart. Am I waiting for something Good or Bad? Both?

It’s always both this side of heaven.

The Bad feels more likely, but the Good feels more permanent.

Come, Lord.