“I took my love and took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills…”
We went to our spot in the woods on Saturday. Hiked to the alpine lake we went to last fall when I was still pregnant, still in the season of waiting and expectation. We went and let Easton explore the mountain meadow with smiles on our faces. The world is big and beautiful and the woods are lively and magical; all of it more so when we watch him get to know it. Sometimes children are the best teachers. And nature too.
We went to Wildflowers on Sunday. I’ve been wrestling with Jesus for a while now, so traditional church services don’t sit well with me. I’ve never sat well through any church really. And I still don’t know exactly what to think about Jesus dying for me. But I believe in God. I look at my son, and and see him in the mountain meadow, and there is no denying that the world holds something bigger than you or me. Mad props to the Maker.
Life-Death-Life. That’s what the message was about on Sunday. That’s the message that makes me question if I can really call myself a Christian or identify with Christianity. I have no problem believing in miracles. Every day the sun rises and sets. The world dances to an unseen but undeniable rhythm. My heart beats. My son’s chest rises and falls with each breath. Magic, miracles, call it what you will–they exist everywhere, everyday. I can’t help but want to know more about this man who lived with so much love, who challenged anyone he met to change, whose message still transforms millions today. Sure the message gets misused and twisted and turned into some ugly things–but that’s not his fault. I have no problem following Jesus. But I have had some pretty big doubts surrounding his dying for me. I get why he came to live, I get that his life was an arrow, pointing a new way for our lives to take aim. That he was pulled back by the masses, that his message was met with fear and anger and a sickening, tortured end to his life doesn’t surprise me. I get why he was killed from a societal standpoint, but what his death has to do with my sin and my life still mystifies me.
Nature mystifies me too. All around us colors burst forth in one last show of beauty before it all falls. Before the first bite of cold and snow covers everything until Spring. That’s where he got me. Metaphor. If there were no fall, no winter, no season of death, there would be no Spring. He said the story of Jesus is one of Life-Death-Life. One in which Jesus broke himself open, poured himself into us, and gave us life again. Simile. He said, much like a new mother lets part of her old self die to nurture the new life of her child, that’s the story of Jesus.
I keep thinking about this passage from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With the Wolves:
“Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many beginnings -all in the same relationship.”
I keep thinking about Life of Pi, about the Truth in story, about the existence of the irrational hero leading us to believe. Yann Martel said this of his novel:
“I chose Pi as my main character’s nickname because Pi, the number used so often in mathematics and engineering, is an irrational number; that is, a number that goes on forever without any discernable pattern. It stuck me that a number used to come to a rational, scientific understanding of things should be called “irrational.” I thought religion is like that, too: It’s something “irrational” that helps make sense of things. Along the same lines, I named my main character after a swimming pool to play on a contrast. A swimming pool (“piscine” in French) is a rectangular volume of water, a controlled volume of water. I liked the irony of a boy named after a rational volume of water being adrift in an uncontrollable volume of water, the Pacific. The two Mister Kumars — one the science teacher, the other the mystic baker — and the zebra. One archetypal man — Kumar is a very common name in India, one reality — a Grant’s zebra, two understandings of that reality — one transcendental (“Allahu akbar,” God is great), the other materialist (Equus burchelle boehmi, the scientific name for a Grant’s zebra). The whole novel in one scene. How reality is an interpretation, a choice of readings, a choice of stories. The island winks at old, discredited proofs of God, notably by Paley, an English clergyman from the 18th century, the argument from design; that is, that if there is a design in nature, there must be one who designed it, just as if there is a watch, there must be a watchmaker. A beautiful proof that has an emotional, intuitive appeal but doesn’t hold up logically.”
Over the weekend, we stumbled upon a family of Moose. A whole, freaking, family! It was amazing, and I could have watched them for hours, but my own husband and son needed me. So on the drive home, I kept thinking about the magic of meeting them in the wild. I kept thinking that it was a sign of something more. That the son will shine on us as a family, that we are meant to be together and both wild and free. That we are meant for Goodness, that good things are to come, that we are so lucky.
And I keep thinking, if I can believe in signs, in magic, in miracles–which story do I want to believe? Which is the one that will lead me to choose and do better things–which is the one that leads to goodness and beauty and love–in all it’s irrational, beautiful, heartbreakingly amazing mystery?
With Love from Colorado,