So yesterday evening, I was sitting outside by the pool, marinating in melancholy. (How's that for an opening sentence?) It was almost a pleasant melancholy, the sort that fall inspires so often.
At first, the setting sun was lighting up all the leaves from underneath, so they were rich gold under and thick green on top, and this swath of gold shot almost horizontally through the grove of trees toward the low hills at the east.
Then the sun set and everything was blue and green, and them mostly blue. I was sitting there thinking about how stressful everything is right now, and how the stress has been unrelenting- just pressing down and pressing down, and how it is wearing Keith and I down as if it were a grinding stone.
For some reason, maybe some sweet scent in the evening air, I remembered feeling exactly like that even when I was fifteen or sixteen, only at that time, my anxieties and stresses were based on completely different things.
This was a comforting thought. I remembered the critically important thing to remember at all times: life is difficult.
Life is difficult, but in my experience, it only approaches intolerable when one has gotten hold of the wrong idea that it wasn't supposed to be like that. Then one wonders what is wrong with oneself, that one's life is actually not like a bowl of cherries at all.
Sitting there, I had a sudden inclination to dig out my old journal from those early days, so when I went into the bedroom, I pulled the tattered, spiral-bound notebook out of its hiding place and crawled into bed to read it.
And what did I read upon first opening the page, but a litany my internal suffering, which I had, for the first time ever, dared to scrawl upon a page. And there were pages of it. I dared even to hate God, in that first journal entry.
I was in awe of my boldness, my emotional authenticity. Apparently, so was the I that was writing the journal. In fact, I can remember writing it, and how I trembled, and how I didn't want to stop, because once I stopped, I would have to face God after having written all those horrible things about Him.
I didn't even end the journal on a positive note. No, not at all. I went out the same way I came in, with a miserable bang.
And then. Just a few days later, I wrote this little fable, tucked away into a longer entry, without any explanation, which I will copy without editing, even though it pains me. Please remember, I was a terribly romantic child, raised on Tolkien, fairy tales and the King James, and obviously not the least bit concerned with science, so that sort of explains it:
Once upon a time, there was a moon that was lonely. She saw the sun with his bride, and what lover has not walked beneath the sympathizing moon's rays? And are not the very stars bright for they dance with the partners God gave them?
All these things the moon saw and wondered, had God forgotten her?
But she did not wish to ask Him, for she wanted to have a lover that loved her for himself, and not for law. So she paced the night sky, growing paler and paler 'til men could not see her, then brighter and brighter, as she has for God's glory these many centuries.
God knew her thoughts, for He knew of everything He ever created. And He knew why she did not feel to ask Him for a partner.
So He came to her, when she rested in her palace while the sun drove his chariots across the sky.
"Tell me why the leaves grow upon the trees," He asked her.
She was puzzled.
"Why, so that the tree can live," she answered.
"Do you not think the tree could live without leaves all year if I wished it to?"
"Why, of course," exclaimed the moon in surprise.
"So tell me why I put the leaves upon the trees."
And the moon thought. Why is anything, she wondered.
"Of course!" she cried. "Because You wished there to be leaves."
And God smiled.
"All things I created are for My pleasure. All things I allow are for men's independence. His independence is for My pleasure. It is My will that what I create for My joy gives joy to my creation. Nothing is for itself only. Do you understand, My daughter?"
"Yes," she said with a smile. "That means Your creation must learn humility."
"Do not worry, My daughter. I myself with teach them. And when they learn humility, they will fully know Joy."
And He blessed her and took His leave.
And the moon still dances alone. Perhaps when God creates a new world out of the ashes of this one will He create for her a partner.
The Moon learned humility, and then knew Joy. Joy is love and God is Love. There is no room in her for loneliness, nor sorrow, nor incompleteness.
Her God is her all, and there is no more.
A few days later, I must have read, for the first time, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Gouge. I copied several quotes about suffering, and thereafter, scattered all through out the journal, I have written, somewhat enigmatically:
"Thy will be done, Thee I adore, Into Thy hands. I will."
By which I meant, I will suffer. I will walk into the heart of this. As far as I can tell, that was the first time I learned that lesson, the lesson I would be relearning, in one way or another, all my life.