By Lisa Huddleston
Sometimes painfully bright moments of piercing clarity cut through the mundane moments of my life. Epiphanies. Icy cold splashes of truth. Acid that eats holes in the fabric of the ordinary.
In these pinpoints of recognition, I cannot avoid the truth that life is very, very brief and often very, very hard. Yes, I know–life is also very, very beautiful. Yes, yes, it is painfully beautiful! Yet from the moment we are born, the math is against us. While we think we are adding, time is ticking and subtracting from us the things that we suppose will be always ours.
Born naked, we are wrapped in cloth that moths will eat and arms that worms will consume. Born soft and vulnerable, we build exoskeletons of stuff that rust promises to destroy. Even the tents of our flesh will each in its turn one day mold and disappear. “Life is so meaningless!” this moment screams. And it honestly feels that way in the cornea-burning blast of epiphanal light.
But spirit remains. Spirit lives on. Set free and once again naked and poor, our spirits return to the Spirit that inspires all life. And that is what all the losing, all the letting go is about–right, God? A freeing of spirit to a spacious place where we no longer are about addition or subtraction, or getting and spending, or the wasting of time. Isn’t that the truth? God, let that be the truth.
Then the blessed clouds pass over the sun. Our pupils return to normal diameters and the comfort of normalcy numbs our knowing into unknowing. And mostly we can forget–until the next time the sky splits.
By Lisa Huddleston
“It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Parakletos will not come to you” (John 16:7).
No, Jesus wasn’t promising a parakeet to his followers. I have had a parakeet more than once: Pedro bit my earlobe and wouldn’t let go, and Simon/Simone only loved my husband, dive bombing me whenever she could. Neither experience was a pleasant one. And, yes, I realize how ridiculous the previous sentences are—especially in light of what I really want to discuss. But, my pinball brain tends to bounce sort of like a parakeet too bored in a cage. Up and down. Back and forth.
Today a dear friend called to discuss my previous post and the horrifying tragedy of Newtown, CT. She reminded me as others have that immediately following Jesus’ arrival on earth there was terrible slaughter of innocents. Mothers cried with broken hearts then as now. Fathers helplessly watched as horror unfolded. And Jesus knew their pain.
Why is that a comfort to me? How does it help to know that innocent children have died before and before and before? It should make it worse to know the enormity of the suffering. But it helps me to know that the One suffers with us. Our God is our Parakletos. Our Come-Along-Sider. Our Comforter. Our God-With-Us. We are not alone in our tears. Never are we alone.
Even trapped in a wire cage with gifts of limp parsley and nothing but a mirror to talk to. Bouncing up and down in boredom or rocking back and forth in despair. The Parakletos is here. For our benefit. For our comfort. For our loneliness. To counsel, to protect, to help.