"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
At last, I’ve showered. A long, hot one. My legs aren’t sticky anymore from the Bloody Mary my fellow passenger spilled on me this morning while jolting her tray table backward. My jeans still smell like watery old tomato paste.
It’s been a surreal couple of days. I’d been scoping the ruins of my own sinful landscape, searching for those new sprouts God’s promised, when suddenly a college freshman is shot in the head at my school. A classmate and old friend, article after article articulates, heroically subdued this stranger before he could kill as many people as possible–the gunman, Aaron, would later confess his intentions. As soon as I saw Jon’s face flash onto my computer screen, the tragedy hit home. I know Jon is planning on getting married, this summer. We are proud; we are shocked.
Today, God had me in the Psalms.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
Those of low estate are but a breath;
Those of high estate are a delusion…
“Are you a Christian?” Paul asks me. Paul is the man sitting next to me on the plane. He’s going to see his parents in Turkey.
“Yes, I am.”
“I saw your tattoo earlier, I just wasn’t sure, until I saw you were reading your Bible. I’m a Christian, too.”
I end up talking to him about the shooting, and idolatry, and prophets, and marriage, and snowflakes. He’s a snowflake photographer on the side. I love that he says it’s “creation-centered” though I almost challenge what that means to him. I tell him that I’ve been close to death in Haiti where these kinds of tragedies are somewhat common. I tell him about the time I had to get off the Tube in London because someone jumped on the tracks, and about the car accident in Costa Rica. He talks about his grandmother dying. That, I don’t know. I listen. But we talk together about it all as factual; we sift through emotions with coherent logic. And when we pause, something still remains. We’re both aware of it, but I’m not sure of his theology, so I say thank you so much and put my headphones back in. It’s playing Yellow Ledbetter live at the Gorge. The crowd is singing over Eddie, and it pushes me over the edge. I get up and go into the bathroom and cry just a bit. My pants are crusty with tomato juice.
In Hartford, we wish each other travelling mercies, and he heads off to catch his next flight. Tyler surfaces from the back of the plane and I recount to him the cocktail spill.
“It was a bloody mess.”
I’m grateful for God’s companionship, and stunned at the bonds he’s building within his church, his family. I’ve been hardly aware how substantial even a single conversation can be with a brother or sister, even if I’m never to see them again.
I’m infinitely grateful to have attended Seattle Pacific University, for the people I knew while I studied there, and that it’s led me to this little bed in this bleak, East Coast dorm room to rest before a week of celebrating God and grappling with faith in art, in poetry, in confession, in rooftop yoga, with my family.