Monday, May 2, 2011

When Your Heart Skips a Beat

I am standing in the sandwich line. I am ordering the same sandwich I always order, chatting with the same lovely lady about peonies and the month of May. And because it is what everyone talks about, because two billion people watched the parade, the vows, the kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, we are talking about England.

And my heart skips a couple of beats. The others in the line are laughing at the hats, discussing with rapture the lace dress, the veil, the Queen's yellow dress. I am reeling, the weight of remembering suddenly heavy.

Sometimes I forget what I am carrying around with me. I am carrying her inside me, my English grandmother, and carrying inside me this new and strange reality: she is gone. She is asleep in the Lord. She is in a mystery of love, a mystery of knowing and restoration and peace and all of these good words that should taste like water but today taste like dust.

And there, holding my sandwich in front of me with a hesitant look on my face, I remember.

I remember her smiling at me, maybe catching glimpses of her younger self in my twirling skirts and staunch refusal to do anything but read, read, read. I remember her pouring tea, and her house slippers, and how she looked concentrated when she cooked. And how she used to feed the black lab sponge cake. And how one Thanksgiving she made a turkey for me and Mom and we ate it in the living room by the crackling fire and she proudly displayed an apple pie, "for us Americans."

Why do we remember? Why do we watch London on scratchy video footage and ache in our guts for a home, a grandmother, a self that has slipped beyond our grasping fingers?

I am standing in the middle of my twenty year old life aching to run back to age seven.

And I wrote yesterday about jumping up and down as an Easter girl, and I want to, but how? How do we slip into joy when we hold in our hands the hard things? I wonder all of this as I walk back up the stairs to work, as I feel the afternoon drift by me, as I look in at spring. And I remember how all of this joy keeps marrying itself to homesickness. I sat on the T on Saturday night and suddenly longed for the cool female voice of the DC Metro ("Step back, doors closing"), and for Lincoln Park in October, for the swift wind over the Atlantic at Lillie's house listening to her play the piano...

And I keep waiting for the small voice that usually speaks from my left ventricle, a voice of rationality, a voice of theology, a voice that says what is true about God's goodness and His love and what is true about practicing joy.

But I find myself instead just waiting. No words to ignite, no story to spin. I'm waiting for Him. And as I wait, I hear the Psalm 63, verses 1 through 8:

 1 You, God, are my God,
   earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
   my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
   where there is no water.

 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
   and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
   my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
   and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
   with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 6 On my bed I remember you;
   I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
   I sing in the shadow of your wings. 

8 I cling to you;
   your right hand upholds me.

Love, in the midst of waiting

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