Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Circles and Lines

For those of us in America, time is perceived to run in a straight line.  The past is lost, and every moment is leading into the next, into the next, into the next.  We segment our days, we project out the future, we make markers of what has gone and look out to what is coming.  But in many  Eastern contexts, time is not a line, but a circle that loops endlessly.  Life is a pool that you are perpetually walking around, life is a series of repetitions.  That's how the church keeps time, by the way; Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter to Pentecost to Ordinal Time to Advent again….we tread the same steps and time curls around us.

Lately, I seem to be divided between two ways to keep time. 

For the last several years, existence has been a loop, a cycle of rehashing memories and marking dark anniversaries.  I was there a year ago, two years ago, three years ago.  I felt this then, I heard that then, I wore this then.  Sometimes the loop was painful, and in other ways it served to reveal growth and healing: "Remember then?  It's better now.  Remember then? It hurts less.  Remember then?  There's hope again."  I have a paper now that marks the ending of a marriage like I have a paper that marked the beginning.  I have a newly purchased pair of shiny silver shoes (divorce heels!) like I had shiny silver shoes the day I got married.  It all cycles round and round.

But how healthy is the constant tumbling around that comes when my pivot point is a trial that happened three years ago this week?  How much more is there to be learned from that scorching point in my past?  I think this whirling ride needs to end.

My son and I often play chutes and ladders, and it occurred to me that perhaps the secret to following a linear path forward (instead of getting caught in a whirlpool of time) was to create…chutes for myself.  Some days need to be noted, need to take focus so they can impart the wisdom and insight necessary.  So on days like yesterday, which was the "sentencing days", I need to open up the chute into my past and slide down into my memories.  (Memories silenced rise up in unhealthy ways elsewhere.)  Then, when the day is done, I need to crawl out and close the door and keep walking.   

I'm willing to get caught up in the cyclical days of God's grand story, but I think I'm done with walking the perimeter of this poisoned pond.  I'm ready to hold the hands of the ones I love and walk onto the next part of my life's journey.  So that's the plan (the hope): that I'll be marking new days, making new memories and trying to wrench off the clinging griefs of the past that have chained my feet to this emotional rut.  Join me?

"Wooded Pond" by Hubert Vos

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