the world rights itself, a letter to preston
I started this letter as a blog post a couple of weeks ago, thinking I’d be able to somehow manage to make it work, say what I want it to say. But you got on a plane yesterday and my words keep tangling themselves up in the ache of leaving. So I’m just going to let my mind wander next to yours for a while, okay?
“I feel weird, God.” I crack open the prayer, feet finding their stride. Three minutes later there is a line of sweat down my spine, the sun has climbed high in the afternoon and I am nowhere closer to knowing what to say. “I feel out of place, standing here, wanting to be in the story that is not mine, wanting to be a part of things, always, a part of the center of things. What’s wrong, Lord? Why can’t I pray?”
I kick at the ground and achieve a magnificent spray of gravel.
When I was in England a few years ago, I remember suddenly, I walked across long empty fields in the afternoons. I have never quite understood what it was I kept looking for in the silences – perhaps it was simply the feeling of not being alone with my small muddied boots and big troubled heart. Or perhaps it was a feeling of trust again, that the world, so terrible and so beautiful, was not against us. I walked and walked, preaching myself a sermon for Palm Sunday about how deeply human the story is – how we can each, in every moment, shift our posture to Pilate, to Peter, to Mary. (I know I told you this story, on Skype, but bear with me)
I don’t know how to bear the distance other than to keep praying that somehow the field years ago in England is not so far away from the field where you were sophomore year of college in a late afternoon when you weren’t sure what you were becoming or how. I don’t know how to understand the separation other than to think of me running last week with the world tilting on its axis, Madeleine L’Engle and missing you and a wish for more beautiful words all happening at once, and to think of you, wherever you are when you read this, if it’s in your kitchen or while you wait for coffee or somewhere else… to think that such moments are us in one big field and perhaps that is the secret to love reaching always across the miles -
time and a meadow,
a field somewhere and when before we knew each other,
somehow, through the telling and retelling of our stories,
in the chaos of arranging tables on Saturday and the quiet of driving home, holding hands the way we do now,
when I was preaching a sermon to myself in England and you were in a field in Texas,
and when a little boy of seven gives me free pink lemonade on my way home in the afternoon, the world rights itself.
For a moment, a thin place on the backroads in the haze of summer: and again, the still, small voice, the one that whispers, calm your heart, that day He says, all shall be well.
That’s as much as my words can hold, I think. All shall be well. And perhaps time and distance are not such fearsome things as I once thought.