Friday, June 12, 2009


A few days ago, I laid on the bed, staring out the window at the clouds taking shape & forming overhead. Although we have been looking forward to warm, sunny Southern California weather, since we left San Francisco, it's been nothing but gray, gloomy drizzle... with the exception of the day that I found myself watching the clouds.

It was stormy and the air seemed full, with giant thunderclouds moving across an impossibly blue sky (impossible, at least for LA-- the one great thing about the rain is that it scrapes away the layers of smog). I laid there and talked to God, thinking Big thoughts and asking Big questions as I watched him push the clouds across my panoramic view out the window.

Everything inside felt heavy, with the weight of the questions I was asking and the little drama that was unfolding. It was one of those times when we look into someone's life, at all the pain & brokenness, and wonder why it has to be that way.

The Question is, I think, the biggest mystery that we wrestle with, and sometimes I feel my chest filling with something that I cannot put words to, but in the simplest form is just sadness.

I don't mean that in a melodramatic, "get me a straight jacket & some
meds" kind of way. But I think it's healthy & appropriate sometimes to grieve for the pain & brokenness around us, and even to ask God why things are the way they are.

There is someone that we care for whose life and mind are slipping, and we are in a position to help them. But these situations can be tricky & delicate, and my words and actions have been coming out cautiously-- cringing as I lay each one down, hoping that it won't topple everything over.

It has been a strange process, stretched out ov
er the last several weeks, hanging heavily in the background, and stepping forward at unexpected moments. There is a sense of expectancy-- like tensing up before an accident, but in slow motion.

As I lay on the bed, watching the sky, I opened up all those feelings-- the questions of what to do & when to do it, and most of all Why?. The clouds rolled & took shape, sometimes swallowing up the blue patches, sometimes meeting and forming with others. I remembered Job's question of God: Why?
Why did you let this happen? I thought of the other people I knew who had lived through similar situations, and thought about the millions of others that I didn't know. Mental illness is one of those things that is so difficult to understand & explain-- something that happens without anyone to blame or any explanation of Why.

The feelings and questions I had been wanting to avoid & numb were exposed, and none of my questions were answered. But as the clouds drifted & changed, I felt a sense of purpose behind it-- something bigger than myself that I couldn't understand. Instead of answers, I simply felt a Presence that didn't take away my feelings, but shared them with me.

Mixed in with (or maybe I should say underneath) all the anxiety, the fear, the unknown is that calm Presence. I suppose in the religious world, it would be called faith, but I don't want to put a name to it, especially because Faith almost sounds like something I made myself, and this is something I can't claim.

There is a small ache inside, knowing that this is Reality--
that most of the world lives with some sort of wound like this, that there are no guarantees. At the same time, though, I have had moments over these last few weeks where I have felt swells of gratitude, of joy-- where I catch myself smiling over some small thing. It's hard to know how to hold these issues in balance: the reality of our brokenness and the goodness that's around us; how to mourn and celebrate at the same time.

I think, though, that as I stay in tune with these feelings and allow myself to ask these questions, that balance seems to work itself out naturally. It's when I close them up inside and try to hide from it all that I start to tip one way or the other. And as I expose those tender places, that Presence, which is such a mystery, makes me feel at home with myself, with my situation, with reality, and the Questions don't seem quite as big.

No comments: