Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Moving the Furniture

Just at twilight this evening I staggered out onto my front porch and dropped into my rocking chair. I exhausted myself today by sorting through my mother's house. My sister and I made significant progress dividing the furniture and china. The work was exhausting not only because of the physical work involved, but because of the emotional energy the task required. I escaped from the chaos of the living room and the blaring television to sit in the thickening darkness. The sky was a deep wedgewood blue with a lacy scattering of clouds threaded by an arcing ribbon of a plane's contrail. Jupiter graced the evening sky and I was amazed again that stars actually do twinkle.

I sat there as the air became chilly and the silence was like a balm on my bruised ears. I heard the violin song of the cicadas sweeping from right to left and then left to right, accented by the percussion of birdsong. The trees became black silhouettes against the sky decorated by cobwebs of fireflies, their fire flickering on and off in some mysterious and cosmic morse code and I was able to make for myself a quiet prayer space. I could smell the honeysuckle from the back yard as well as damp earth from under the porch. I closed my eyes and rocked. As I thought and rocked, I realized that I had done nothing for the last few weeks except move the furniture.

I literally moved furniture around my house these last couple of weeks. I have been incorporating my half of my mother's possessions into my own household. Each thing that I have saved from her house is steeped in memories. Even things that might seem small and insignificant to other people can trigger memories. Especially things that she made with her own hands. There will be no more afgans crocheted, quilts sewn, geneologies written, meal cooked or memories made with my mother. All I have left are the fruit of her creation -- the product of the creative act, not her living beautiful creative spirit. That is no more - I am left moving the furniture around.

These last few weeks, I haven't created much myself. There hasn't been any art project, sewing project or writings really complete, really done. I have edited a couple of essays and written small things, but that again is just moving the furniture around. I find myself being overly sensitive to criticism, touchy, irritable, blue and depressed because I haven't been able to create - really I haven't been able to come to completion. Acts of creation are for me as necessary for life as breathing. I cannot function without some completion and creative time. I know that I am suffering spiritually right now. I think of God as the God of creation. I believe that we work through our salvation, we become more Christlike when we participate like co-creators in God's creation. For some that might be being an artist, playing the piano, acting in a play or for some being really good plumber. For me, I need that time to make a tangible item - something I can hold in my hand and feel and look at. The act of creation can carry me beyond myself, I can lose my conscious sense of self and act in the manner of my true self, the self that God created. I leave man-time and enter God-time and create around and in me a prayer space. And I relfect that somehow, these ideas themself have become just moving the furniture around.

Or as another preacher said a long time ago:
"Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains for ever. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south, and goes round to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun."

1 comment:

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