I don’t know who reads this blog these days, and I feel like I’ve been letting those people, whoever they may be, down, by not writing profound and/or moving things much anymore. I guess it’s ok to have down years, though. It’s been a bit of a down year. And Januaries don’t help anyone … except that the sadness and difficulty of this January has put me off my regular feed and onto St. Augustine, who asks more questions than David. It’s very comforting, to me.

I want to “be a better person,” which for me, right now, involves forgiving—myself, a certain few people who’ve hurt me, and myself again. I was going to say “God,” because the syntax makes sense to me: I have to forgive God. For letting me down, for not helping me, for not being more audible/visible. But Marshall, when I said something like this to him a while back, pointed out that we don’t forgive God, because God does nothing wrong. And he’s right, I believe. But this John Prine song, “Fish and Whistle,” in which he sings, “Father, forgive us […] and we’ll forgive you / We’ll forgive each other till we both turn blue / Then we’ll whistle and go fishing in heaven,” catches at my brain like a thistle.

I don’t understand God, though I believe I have met God, though I believe I am a friend of God, and the coldness of the universe whistles around me like a vacuum sometimes. Where is God? Where is the love & beautiful generosity of God in the poverty of the world, in the poverty of my soul? While I know that hard times do good work (and, therefore, the beautiful work of love) in me, so that I get tougher, stronger, more patient, more compassionate, etc., I still resent suffering. I resent loneliness, the crushing weight of anxiety, disappointment, loss. But I have to get over my resentment so I can accept the changes of life, so I can open myself to the beauty & opportunities of new times. I have to forgive someone for all this.

So I forgive God, for not making a different world, a different me, than exists. I forgive God, basically, for being so much larger than my brain, and in the same act I forgive myself for not understanding the world, or my life, or God. And God forgives me for my resentment, and then forgives me for feeling like I need to forgive God. Maybe soon we will whistle and go fishing in heaven. (He goes fishing every day in the Kentucky River. I see Him often. “The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer.”)

I’m listening to Nick Drake these days, long days working from home, wiping glue off my fingers and threading needles over and over and over. Pink Moon is one of those enormously formative albums, for me, in my early twenties, and Time of No Reply—which I’d never owned before last month—is both reminding me of old days and giving me courage to head into new ones. This one song in particular (which happens to be on repeat at the current moment), “Fly,” is echoing in my soul so fully that it may be my prayer now and for the next months. I realize it’s hardly helpful to type up song lyrics and imagine they’ll be too evocative, but:

Please give me a second grace;
please give me a second face;
I’ve fallen far down the first time around […]

Now, if it’s time to recompense for what’s done,
come, come sit down on the fence in the sun,
and the clouds will roll by, and we’ll never deny
it’s really too hard for to fly. […]

I’m reminded, or shown, that forgiveness of others and myself is nearly the same thing. I forgive you for rejecting me … and I forgive myself for having been inadequate. These are overpowering struggles—to forgive someone, God, say, for standing just outside the visible, for speaking just outside the audible, while at the same time realizing that I must forgive myself for tangling myself up in a noisy life, filled with the sound of my own voice. I have to forgive myself for wanting my current life patched-up when God is waiting for me to walk forward, into a new life for this new time.

Exhausting. And the major cascading picking pattern in “Fly” is one way to say “second grace.” I have it. It’s here. Today, I hope, I will be whistling and fishing.

 

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