I noticed over the honeymoon that I was bored of the Bible.
We giggled in small-town, sun-splashed Idaho with an Anne Lamott book while lopping peanut butter oreo shakes in our mouths.
We sat in silence on the porch, watching uniformity-- white car, kayak on top, dog in tow, Idaho license in back-- pass by, feeling a deep blue quiet we hadn't felt since getting engaged.
We talked about how we were going to be an "us" that brought all kinds of good in the world. We sipped ice-cold Alaskan Amber, watched the Twins get swept, and still found ourselves swept up by the romance, science, & chess match that is major league baseball.
And yet when it came time to read the Bible-- a practice to which we're inclined as Jesus-loving people-- I felt myself drop, sag & pout inside like an alfalfa-haired six year old on verge of a melodramatic temper tantrum because he pounded his cookie down before touching his potatoes.
I've got a hunger, see. It makes its home in my chest, and there it makes its rounds: sometimes, I can't tell if it's churning or soaring, weeping what's been lost in life or giggling for what's around the bend. I don't know how to name it exactly. I could call it uneasiness, but that's the feeling and not the hunger. I could call it transcendence, but that's cold & distant and this feels nearer than anything I've ever known.
My best sketch is to call it a hunger for beauty, and my best definition of beauty is that in a thing which makes us laugh, cry, & belt out '80s ballads at the same time.
Here's the hitch: I'm a Christian. Have been for just over five years now. Methinks faith's like learning & living into a new language. That's why us Christians are so damn cryptic all the time: we've got a language, and sometimes we suck at cross-cultural translation with people sitting across from us.
But recently, the Christian language-- and often its practices-- aren't articulating the longings I'm feeling, the world I'm seeing, and-- nag of all nags-- the hunger I'm experiencing.
You ever feel this?
What happens when C.S. Lewis' 'our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak' meets Mary Oliver's 'the morning sun is the best preacher that ever was'?
Like Lewis, I get that Jesus isn't surprised or intimidated by my desires: Jesus is still Lord, and Jesus can do whatever the flip Jesus wants to do.
But like Oliver, sometimes life & the stuff in it greet me as naked & disorganized beauty: I wonder what Jesus has to do with them, what prayer I am s'posed to say to him about them, and why the Bible doesn't have peanut butter oreo shakes or stories about people who found something meaningful just by sitting in silence & watching life's questions pass by like puffy white clouds instead of making pamphlets about how to avoid them.
I think Jesus is resurrected & doing resurrecting work all around us. I think that's why beauty-- the tears, the laughter, and the screechy singing-- always feels like it's beneath the surface. It's coming. But that's not the point. I'm learning a new language. Better, I'm relearning meanings of words & practices like, I don't know, the Bible and trying to read it without thinking about the sex I now could be having. Some days, I feel more like a Buddhist than a Christian.
You'll probably do this, as long as you're human. Maybe you're doing it now. College-- mine, at least-- almost feels designed to screw with how & why you do everything.
No resolution here, friends. Beauty of the blog, I guess. I don't have to tie it up in a bow.
I hope I laugh more, though. Hard being a Bible major, you know. You start to look like you've got a stick up your butt while you're trying to unravel the mysteries of the universe.
removing the stick,