Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
So I’m sitting here minding my own business and thinking about today’s prompt, and right on cue, in the little church a couple of doors down, they start singing this. (A funeral, I think.)
And instantly I’m back there in the school chapel on a Sunday night, and my soul is keening with the grief of loss and abandonment and despair. Sunday night, the lowest point in the week and I am afraid. Afraid that my capacity for endurance will run out and I will disappear into a black hole and be lost forever.
WTF, you think. It was a long time ago, get over it.
And you’re right, and I am over it for all practical purposes. It may have affected the course of my life, but it doesn’t define it. I am not stuck in it. I am well capable of being happy.
But while we might forget things as we get older – practical things, intellectual things, facts – our emotional knowledge is there forever waiting for a sight, a sound, a smell – the crowbar in the chink that levers the lid off the box, and there it is: an emotional memory that at the time was the only emotional truth. And as it rises from the box to wrap itself around us, it’s whispering in our ears, seeping into our bones, hell-bent on seducing us into accepting it as our soul mate, the only one who truly understands, the bedrock of everything we are.
We are not built on one truth, one emotion. We are the sum total of our lives. Success, failure, ecstasy, despair – nothing is forgotten, and nothing is wasted provided we see it for what it is: the past. It’s up to us which one we allow to dominate, and to use the rest as texture, colour, depth, perspective. And empathy.
So I hear that hymn, and for one bleak, overwhelming moment I am frantic with longing: the longing to be saved from what I don’t think I can handle much longer – and not by God, whose presence I am presumably in at the time, although He was obviously occupied elsewhere. Or maybe He was saying Learn the lesson, kid. You’re tougher than you think.
So I tell you about it. And now I’m going for a swim. Make of it what you will.