Archives for the month of: January, 2015

Black Hole, part 7

A year ago I could not have imagined this vista, it’s barren cliffs and wispy grey skies. The quiet is astounding. Though there are no clouds a storm is about to break, the kind with lightning flashing in the skies but no rain. Rain signals growth, triggers seeds to sprout and reach for sun. But there will be no wet drops pummeling the earth in this storm. Only the howling cry of a life not conceived.

It is time for my husband and I to talk about life without children. Just us, to have and to hold, in weakness and in strength. It’s a conversation we have been avoiding month by month. There’s always something else to worry about at work or home. We have plans to go away for a weekend, to our favorite city, and let go. We just might cry.

Life feels a bit surreal when the thing you thought would never come to pass ambles into view. It’s as though the world flattens, or constricts one’s depth of field. Imaginations are less full, slightly duller, though not so much as to draw a complete blank. There just always seems to be something amiss and, like those hidden images puzzles in Ranger Rick, it’s hard to know if you’ve circled everything. Meanwhile, others lives around yours take some very different paths and some wind out of view entirely. You can’t relate to much of what’s going on around you because stories revolve around children.

Twice I went to strangers for prayer. The first experience was confirmation that strangers can be untrustworthy when it comes to praying about infertility. The second left me humbled with gratitude. I suppose if nothing else, I should praise God for balance. What haunts me is that I hadn’t expected to hear a church leader (whom I’ve never met) pray over the crowd for God to fill us with life, particularly we who have been barren. I felt exposed yet somehow relieved when we were invited to receive prayer with others. That was six months ago, after two years of waiting, wondering.

 

There’s a garden shop near my work, and I remember thinking that if I don’t have to trail after small feet or drive anyone to soccer practice or attend any school plays, I would like to cultivate a garden. Of course, that was when I didn’t really take that threat seriously. Now, as the days lengthen along with the months and years, I find myself considering soil textures. Perhaps I could learn something new about God through seeds, death and soil.

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I have nearly finished reading the Hunger Games in three days. There’s nothing quite like a dystopian narrative to start the new year just right. And there are any number to choose from these days.

My husband and I recently watched the film Divergent: also with a post-cataclysmic setting, segregated society, and female protagonist. Those three elements I find particularly intriguing. In both Divergent and the Hunger Games, the main characters’ self-understanding is closely linked with a connection to others. In the former, she is part of a naturally occurring subset of humanity that encompasses all the personality types and who cannot be categorized, which is also to say, contained. In the latter, she is always aware that survival requires strategic partnerships, and she exists indebted to the knowledge, kindness, and sacrifice of others. This connection to others hearkens back (oddly enough) to the film that initiated our zombie craze of recent years, Night of the Living Dead. In 1968, George Romero used religious lore to construct a horror film about race relations. For the living, staying together means staying alive regardless of where the person next to you originally came from or the color of their skin. In film, extreme situations burn off the superfluous like dross leaving “what really matters” exposed and purified for the viewer to see.

The uptick in post-apocalyptic and post-cataclysmic storylines makes me wonder: what is it our society is trying to burn off, and for whose eyes to see?

2014 was among the most turbulent in terms of social unrest that we’ve seen in a while. Lines on graphs display a growing discrepancy between the household incomes of CEOs and corporate stakeholders, and those who either make their money for them or consume their goods. As our society becomes further polarized, the class system that seemed to offer some stability and cache to the dream of Horatio Algers, is beginning to falter. In our present setting, narratives like Divergent and the Hunger Games are attempting to cast a vision for a way out–but, for whom? Those who are truly Other (as in Divergent), or those who are oppressed by the ruling center? What makes them different?

Before I can begin to address any of these questions, I feel the need to read more, to see how the authors resolve the narratives. There is a lot going on, both in the stories themselves, and the resonances held in our present situation–and then there is the not unbiased mediator of film. I will attempt in future posts to address questions individually, even as they interrelate and inform one another. I hear echoes of a prophetic voice in these post-cataclysmic narratives, and I hope to find out if there is a vision of hope that lies underneath, or if these are simply the first blaze of warning signals.

To be continued…

Another month gone. Another calendar in the recycle bin. Happy feckin’ New Year.

I don’t mind seeing 2014 come to an end, just as there was a fair bit of relief when 2013 ended…initially. Yes, the next year will be different–but will it be what we’ve been waiting for? My husband and I have been feeling adrift for a while now. With applications slowly getting checked off, we feel as though we’re approaching the next big thing; but are we nearing landfall, or Niagra Falls in our barrel of uncertainty? 

Here’s to holding on to hope for even just a few days. Cheers, to wherever you are. 

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