Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What to do when the weary presses in...

"She was already wearing black. She had borne four children and raised one. Two of her children she had buried in the same week of a diphtheria epidemic, of which she had nearly died herself. After the third child died, she never wore colors again. It was not that she chose to be ostentatiously bereaved. She could not have chosen to be ostentatious about anything. She was, in fact, a woman possessed of a strong native cheerfulness. And yet, she had accepted a certain darkness that she had lived in too intimately to deny."  Pray Without Ceasing, Wendell Berry

Pray Without Ceasing is part of a short story collection by Wendell Berry called Fidelity. My trio of high schoolers just finished reading it -- which means I just finished reading it as well. This quote has been rattling around in my head for a week. The beauty of Mr. Berry's writing inspires me to sit and think and type, praying that I could convey in any of my sentences the depth of character and sentiment that he is capable of conveying in his.

And yet, this paragraph above, this quote about a dear woman who has just learned her husband has been shot, speaks to me far deeper than just a point of literary enjoyment.

Just as evidence that I have not given up on color-clothing.

Benjamin had his third surgery since December today. Third. For the third time I went back to an operating room with him, talked to him while the anesthetizing gas began to work its magic, and left the room crying because I had to do it once again. Because he had to do it once again. Three times in nine months. (A total of nine in his life.)

I know I should be grateful to live in a country where such services are available. Thank you for that, really. Yes, I know we are blessed.

I know I should be grateful that he is alive. That he isn't battling for his life day in and day out. I am grateful. Oh please, never ever mistake my weariness for lack of gratitude. I thank God every day for his life.

But can you hear the heart of Berry's character, Mrs. Nancy Feltner, as she concedes living too long with a darkness to deny it, in spite of her native cheerfulness? I hear her. She is weary from the pressing in -- weary from the pain of watching her loved ones suffer. Weary of consequences that are so far beyond her control, her skills, her ability to fix.

Or maybe, I am speaking of the pressing in that I am feeling every day this season. The desire is there to fight against the pressing. To stand firm and not give in to the grief. To keep smiling and seeking the light. And yet, I too, feel changed by the certain darkness, the certain heartache, that I have lived with too intimately to deny.

And so I embrace John 11:25. I embrace the life Jesus can restore -- can resurrect. I rejoice in the promise that it does not have to be in my might. It does not have to be in my strength. I can simply let go and have Jesus relieve the pressing.

I am after all, a woman possessed of strong native cheerfulness.

Because sometimes a resurrected life, is the one able to lay down the sorrow, lay down the suffering and laugh long, loud and hard.

What a blessing!