And today is the day I’m actually 28 weeks pregnant. My stomach is getting noticeably bigger. It was itchy yesterday (stretching skin…), and I went out on a limb and asked Marshall to give me a stomach massage with coconut oil. And I say “I went out on a limb” not because I thought he’d say no—I knew he’d say yes—but because I’ve been doing this thing, during my pregnancy, where I try to be self-sufficient and not ask people for help with things. I hate (hate hate hate) being a whiny pathetic wimp. Which, I feel, I have been since Week 8. From what I hear from my friends who’ve been pregnant, though, Imma have to get over that particular reluctance. I mean, I read it on the internet, too. New moms need so much help, apparently, and I should get used to asking now. But not yet. I mean, I’ll do it in a minute.

However, in the interest of opening up my brain & soul to current dizzying life changes, I’m here again, writing another blog post.

I set up a false dichotomy in that last entry, I think. I wrote the post, went to work, and considered the vast natural and social world, the migratory flocks of signs that move underneath (and over) my consciousness every hour. A “sign” doesn’t have to be either a “long-awaited letter from God” or an empty symbol waiting to be filled with whatever meaning a person finds needful. The world is filled with signs, mysterious movements that stymie the watchful with their selfhood and foreign language.

I do my work separating cloves of garlic for the farm’s fall planting, for hours, taking in the papery outer husks and hard, pink, striated inner husks, with all my senses. My attention dissolves as I move inward, imagining what the future will be like, or grieving past losses. And are my hands, in their perfect, unconscious working, not signs, filled with their own significance? Or the perfect, white clove hidden in the rotten garlic head, each other clove turned to mealy brown dust? The sudden thunderstorm, 15 seconds of small hailstones, the gray curtains of rain barely visible against the dark clouds above?

I used to find certain spiritual peoples’ assertions that “everything is a sign from God” exhausting, and wanted to believe, instead, that God speaks more coherently in the natural rhythms and cycles of the world than in miraculous deviations from them, “miracles,” or “signs.” I remember reading a John Eldredge book in high school in which he concluded that, on a morning horseback ride, since he hadn’t listened to God and stayed home—as he should have, for whatever reason—he fell off his horse and injured himself. That, basically, God pushed him off his horse to teach him a lesson. I never forgot that, and have resisted this kind of “reading of the signs” ever since (and probably before) then. Eldredge’s other idea about signs, that observable beautiful things are like “love letters from God,” however, is different, and I’ve always (as long as I can remember) subscribed to it: how can the beauty of the world not speak of the love / generosity of God, since—I’ve come to believe—God made it, and God is love / generosity?

There are strange and wonderful deviations, sometimes, from the natural rhythms and cycles of the world. There is the long, good year, in which nobody dies, in which my sisters and brother thrive, in which the walking is easy and there are no bad dreams. There is a new friend to take the place of the friend who left, there’s a new job that is awesome, there’s a journal that publishes your work. Are these “signs” to be read? Yeah, I think so, but they resist any concrete, final “reading.” Because God’s generosity includes suffering, a less exciting sign, but a sign nonetheless. I don’t think in terms of punishments and rewards, anymore; I think, “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” I think, “The love of God is both a wave and a particle, it separates via prism into particular wavelengths, it scatters itself into every place and is read a little differently by every eye.” I think, “The work of God surrounds me, and has surrounded me since my birth.”

I don’t know whether the mystics understand mysteries better, or if they’re just more comfortable living with them.

 

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