Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In the Valley of Life: Stories

I have been reading John Goldingay's reflection and remembrance of his wife, Remember Ann. I have had the book awhile and have been fearing reading it. I knew John and Ann during my days at Fuller. Ann was 
diagnosed with MS early in their relationship and John took care of his wife throughout their forty year marriage. I made the acknowledgements. But I fear reading it on two fronts. First, my son has NF-1 and it may be a severe form and I don't know if I have the strength to go through if I know what that means. Better in such journeys to only dealing with whats in front of you. I remember when a friend from Colorado was looking up at the top of Mount of the Holy Cross mountain. Seeing the top he could not imagine making to the top. I had been on the top already, by taking on step a time. I did not what to deal with seeing the top from John's story. Second, I am dealing with a persistent Glaucoma problem. I fear being a blind husband to my wife, and undue burden up her, especially if our son also might need care. It was to overwhelming. 

Last night, the three of us, wife, son and me, sat a the dinner table and laughed. My two year old laugh with a deep laugh that filled his whole being over something little. I saw God in this moment. I found the courage to read a friend's story. Tears mixed with laughter, this is what I am grateful for. This does not change the devil's choice that my wife and I will have to make. Nor does it change the possible terrors my son will have to face. But sharing the story, as John does, somehow makes more alive. Below is a poem I wrote when I found out Ann had passed away. In it I remember what many forget about the Gospel is about being fully alive and fully alive with others.

The Early Church Father St. Irenaeus of Lyons famous quote about the meaning of Gospel, comes to me through the giggles of my son, “The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God”

In the Valley of Life
In memory of Ann
The music exists
           in time, in silence,
     and in the valley of the bones before the prophet,
               the mortal, spoke. The dryness of the land
    lacked the wind of life before the God’s

question. God
          asked the prophet if the bones
      could find flesh again and dance as a living
              people. Demanding an answer,

We become
         Mute to the fractures of our time.
      Snap, and we are orphans. Crackle, and life
             Dissipates like the smoke

From an extinguished
         Beeswax purple candle. The still hot
      Liquid of stilled blood longs to move as if
              It remained a springtime brook.

On the crossplanck
          Where the points of the valley meet,
      We answer with a song, only God could know,
            of cold loss in our marrow.

God asks the prophet
        Again, and we defer our different
      Ignorance. We speak to the bones of our past,
          Finding memories, finding

Sinew attaching
      To our stories. Will they spring up
    From out of the ground? Will they speak to us
         In a new voice.

The mortal speaks
      To the brittle dust and water begins
   To turn to blood. The skin needed to contain
          The red wine colored

Fluid covers
      The memories. Notes of forty plus
   year marriage begin to play the dignity of Ann.
           Through the silence,

She heard
      God’s s libretto through the voice
  Of the mortal. The mortal proclaimed the words
       Of life, of body broken

For new being. Alive,
     Again and for the first time,
  We remember  and give thanks and sing
     For sweet Ann given to us.

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