Sunday, June 6, 2010

Naming the impact?

June 6, 2010

Dear friends,

Am spending some time in the mountains with friends this week resting, thinking, talking.

Plan to take Stafford's poem with me along with N.T. Wright's book on the resurrection, Surprised by Hope. You might rightfully think that I am planning time to do nothing. And yet-

When I write next week, how will who I am carry the impact of these days of being with others? And--sobering question-- how will the being of others be altered by my being who I am and becoming in their company?

In the ending couplet of the poem, Stafford alludes to both the hidden current of the river and the stillness of the river held in ice. He then concludes abruptly:

"What the river says, that is what I say."

A student once said irritably, "What Stafford said and the river said was the same, all right--nothing." While I understood this particular student's frustration , I didn't agree. Do you? Is there nothing to say when we are asked about the significance of who we are in the context of what we have done? Rephrase Stafford's last line in the sturdy everyday language we might use while drinking tea on the porch.

In case you wonder, I do think there are other things worth thinking about in addition to Stafford's poem. I plan to go to some of those other places soon.




  1. Here's my back patio discussion with myself. I live in Dallas, TX and it's June 6th. It's 100 degrees without the heat index figured into the mix.

    Don't ask me today, in the blasted heat any deep questions.
    I don't know anything
    I'm hot and mad.
    Don't ask me today, "Are the relationships we form the doing that tells us who we are?"
    I filed for divorce over a year ago and I have no papers to indicate that my 22 year marriage is over.
    If this relationship is my definition of who I am,
    I'm in serious trouble.
    If you'd been poolside and listened to the rantings of my very angry 8 year old directed squarely at me yesterday, you'd have serious concerns.
    For both of us.

    I was clearly the Mom in Charge---Sunscreen Police, On-Duty Lifeguard, Goggle Adjuster, Food Deliverer, Towel Girl, Referee, Underwater Contest Time Keeper.
    While interacting with my fierce child, how did my presence impact others at the pool?
    I'd say, that depends on who was watching.
    My very bright 17 year old niece might have been thinking, "When I am a mother, I will never yell at my child at the pool. Gee!"
    The lady with the truly buoyant 9 month old might have thought, "I'm so glad I'm doing everything so perfectly with my little guy. That won't happen to us."
    The older woman with thighs a lot like mine smiled knowingly and tried very hard to ignore us.
    The buff young man thought, "If I ever get married, my wife will never look like that. I'm never having kids." He left.

    Now that I've got my requisite cold Diet Cherry Coke tableside and the air conditioner has cooled my body.
    And I'm alone.
    I'll say, "Yes my relationships have formed the doing that tells me who I am."
    I get to choose, though, what I do and how I respond to what others do.
    I am less judgmental, less controlling, more structured, and more loving because I am Annie Beth's mother.
    She highlights my flaws faster and more accurately than most.
    But. . if I focus on events and not the whole of the relationship I would have thrown in the towel when she bit the School Principle's daughter. . . in FIRST GRADE!

    I know what it's like to be the young woman at the pool that both men and women ogle--some less effectively than others.
    That young stud at the pool yesterday would have responded to my question were it 25 years ago.
    I also know what it's like to maintain that body through obsessive exercising and starvation---pardon me, "dieting".
    I know the fear and anxiety that surrounded life with solid beliefs that if I didn't remain thin, I wouldn't be loved.
    I found out that belief was true AND false.

    I know now what it's like to be hated but I cannot tell you in the heat of this battle what difference it will make. Ask me later. Ask me in a different season.

    I am grateful that in Christ I always have His life coursing through my veins.
    He is living water.
    He gives me life and breath.
    And choice.

    He plans for seasons and expects that I'll need a break from the best and the worst that each offers.
    Without Him and His life in Me, even my best doings as my bestest self wouldn't be enough.
    But, He is enough

  2. I have thought much about this question, wondering what the answer is....I think that absolutely who we are is influenced by the people in our lives as well as circumstances. Why do I believe that? Because, God in His wisdom and sovreignty is molding us and transforming us. Although He uses many avenues, one of these is by using the people and circumstances of our lives to mold us into something better or should I say someone better. Now, do we have a choice about how we respond to this? Yes. It is not to say that I don't get angry at times about my circumstances, but far too many times I have wondered how God was working in "that other person's life" only to find out that He was also working in mine. It should be our desire to work toward heavenly treasures as we shall be spending eternity there, so as the dross drips away, hopefully it is our character that is turning into gold.

  3. Gay~
    I have been thinking about this post (again). What I am wondering is how did God's people handle it in the Old and New Testament? That would be helpful to have some examples. . .looking forward to your response.