I am rich beyond telling.  Since daffodils I planted last fall are long and green and nodding their yellow and orange ruffles in the breeze, since sunflowers and cornflowers I started a month ago are recovering quickly from their transplanting, and since purple bells and spireia and all the seedlings still lined up in their rows of plastic cells are pale green and tender, since all these things, life is associated with my name.  Every plant in my bedroom window knows it’s spring, and I know it.

. . .

Yesterday at work, I read the section on celebration as a spiritual discipline in Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines:

“But this world is radically unsuited to the heart of the human person, and the suffering and terror of life will not be removed no matter how ‘spiritual’ we become.  It is because of this that a healthy faith before God cannot be built and maintained without heartfelt celebration of his greatness and goodness to us in the midst of our suffering and terror.  ‘There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance’ (Eccles. 3:4).  It is the act and discipline of faith to seize the season and embrace it for what it is, including the season of enjoyment” (180).

Two years ago Marshall and I drove back home together from Natalie’s birthday party in Gatlinburg and had what I consider to be our first discovery of kindredness.  We talked about the terror and suffering of the past two years, and our small but persistent hopes for the future.  One month later, we drove to a church parking lot overlooking a cemetery and had an awkward conversation in which I told him I couldn’t think of a reason to say no (he has never let me forget this particular phrasing), so I said yes, and hesitantly entered a season of light.  After an initial spike of inloveness — which I also accepted hesitantly — the enjoyment has grown slowly, steadily.  Today I’m healthy, I’m a published poet, I’m going to school for free, I have a “laughing fellow-rover,” I have a few good friends.

In a sense, the kindness and gentleness of God has drawn joy out of me in all seasons.  But the weight of Job’s “the Lord gives and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” is ponderous; a stone of hope, but still a stone.  You say that in the moment you’re able to withstand the pressure, when you can rest for a while, when you can sleep.  I know the suffering doesn’t stop, and that it could rise up and tower over our heads at any time, but something about Christ’s work & words illumines these shadows now.  It’s all very strange.  I had thought unhappiness was eternal.

I hope to understand my life better soon.  In the meantime, I will enjoy this day.

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