A man in an electric wheelchair pauses outside the window to let a couple of girls go by on the sidewalk.  He looks very old and tired, like gravity is winning its battles one by one, and when he looks in the window for a second his face draws its sags up into a small smile at me.  Everyone sings these songs about 16 year old girls’ smiles being like the sun, but this smile was like the sun, not those, this one came out on a cloudy day and spoke of a country afar off.

I went last night to hear a Singaporean (?) pastor speak at a church a few miles away, and was upset by what I heard, and then upset because I couldn’t really find the words to communicate why it upset me.  Not as well as I wanted.  I’ve made more sense of it in my head since then, and the heart of the issue has turned out to be that I thought God was misrepresented.  When I feel like God is misrepresented, I care so much, I feel the adrenaline coming, I often have to either take a walk or have an earnest discussion with someone about it.  I took a walk, mostly, this time, and am still taking it.  I parked in the Old City under the bridge and walked up to Union with M’s laptop (ostensibly to work on the baby book I’m finishing up today), my box of paper, and a thousand, thousand thoughts.  I’m writing emails, drinking water and coffee, watching the people walk up and down the sidewalk, thinking about God and how everything in my life touches him, how my life has been saved so many times, my green spaces conserved by his words and movements.

This is such a strange time of life, for me.  Spring is upon us, here, and I have a new dear friend that I’m getting to share life with, old dear friends who have finished a first year of school, lost a close relationship, are trying to live in a workable way.  I’m trying to do this, too, and everything in my life can change, leaving me almost insane, but not insane (or dead).  I love the Cat Power song that goes “it’s the colors and the kids that keep me alive,” because the colors and the kids are like the first flags of dawn or the last lights of evening, they also speak of a far-off country, but somehow something in me is hungriest and they’re not enough for me, I need something deeper than they are, and somehow Christ found me there.  It amazes me, that my desires have lived in me for so long … I’d have thought they’d have broken out of me by now, sent up flames fifty times my size, plumes of smoke a hundred times, they seem so much greater than me, so much more huge and made of more valuable stuff.  They are why I have read poetry since I was a child, and why I write it, now.  They are why I cry all the time, even sometimes at a word, a single word, and why I need to run or whatever when I hear something I think is untrue about God.  Who is the only one who can contain my desire, and who has contained it, and given it a name, or a hundred names, each one he knows and keeps track of.

I can’t keep my thoughts in “the real world,” today, the newsboy and the No. 73 bus, lunch, the library (reading Screwtape again).  Even the barista holding her phone to her ear and staring out the window is calling to me and I think of her, what she may do when she gets home tonight, whether she’ll open her window and fly the flag of her desire out of it, its tips touching the ground and then kiting off beyond, reaching for a far country.  Maybe not.  She may keep that flag in the top of her closet, back of her sock drawer, buried in her backyard.  I wonder about the man in the wheelchair, where he keeps his.  I can’t believe it doesn’t break me, but I sew new words on mine on nights like last night, in threads that burn me.

The clouds overhead are sheeting, like low waters, and I know we won’t see any more sun today than just the glow that’s casting slight shadows on the ground.  This is ok.  I imagine getting on a plane, which is something I want to do more than anything in the world, right now, I  imagine the roar of the engine at the end of the runway, the hard shove into the back of my seat and the release of the wheels and the pavement, the jump into the air.  I imagine the houses and swimming-pools falling away behind and nosing into this sheet of greyness and then emerging, lifting into the blue sky that is always there, above the clouds, suddenly sharp shadows cutting color onto our arms and hands.

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