Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I'm just not sure what to call this.

First, I thought of the title: "And The Action of Greek Tragic Drama Took Place in the Space of Just 24 Hours."

Then, I thought I could perhaps call it: "Taking a Beating in Bed" or "The Marathon Runner" or even:

"This Piece of Writing Has One Mild Expletive In It So If You Are Against That Sort of Thing and Think That Professional Ministers Have No Business Cussing, You Best Not Read This."

In the end, I'll just leave it "Untitled."

I shook inside on Monday as I opened the door. It was late and the house felt quiet but uneasy.

My heart was beating in the right side of my chest, which was the wrong side.

My mind kept telling my heart to shut the hell up and sit down and get back where it belonged. My heart rebelled and just kept thumping wildly, as if it was swinging a bat, gangster-fashion--and my insides are black and blue now.

My lungs must have taken a beating that night (or a strangling) for when I crawled cold into bed, I couldn’t breathe deeply enough to sleep straight.

I knew something was amiss. I was one gentle verb short of a full, beautiful sentence, but I didn’t want to admit it. Maybe it would be possible to just turn in a fragment. I knew that wouldn’t do, however, so, in my mind, I just kept writing writing writing, like the big bad Woolfe, stream-of-consciousness, you know, hoping that if I put down enough words the Teacher would find my work acceptable, somehow, perhaps even publishable with a nice piece of art on the front and a picture of me on the back, bigger than one inch square, full color—yes, not gray—smiling, so no one knows there’s anything wrong with me and everything will be fine, just fine; yes “fine” I said. We won’t have money troubles anymore, the kids will get all A’s, I will train this year for next year’s marathon and when race day comes I’ll ignore all those who cheer me on saying “You’re almost there” or “We’re proud of you” and “Looking good” because well I know I’m looking good for goodness’ sakes I’m the hero look at me finishing with at least the mid-packers, which is saying something because it’s the first marathon he’s ever run for God’s sake and, after all, isn’t that quite an accomplishment for one’s first race?

I’m breathing like I’ve just crossed the line, but I know I didn’t truly finish. I cheated.

Tuesday, 1:30 a.m.: sleep by sheer force of will.

4 a.m., waking and still shaking. Oh my God, I must have been shaking even in my sleep. What is happening to me? Who am I? What have I become? What have I done? What happened to the marathon I was running? Don’t start writing things again in your head. They’ll think you’ve gone mad. Just let yourself weep inside.

I thought I’d be able to rest last night, after a day full of confession. Penance takes it out of you.

But my penance is not over yet. And perhaps my heart knew that, for it kept telling my mind to think and my mind kept telling my hand to clench. I curled up like a fetus and didn’t possess the energy to kick the dog out of bed.

Tonight, it’s just barely 10 and I thank God I’m tired. Exhaustion is a blessing. Truly. I’m not just trying to be clever. Just think about it a bit and you’ll have a little “aha” moment.

I think I’m learning something new about the process of grieving in the unseen country. What was it the King said the other day? “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Messiah, thank you that you are teaching me this. I’m not quite sure I’ve learned it all, yet, though, so please stay awhile and be patient with me and remind me over and over again to mourn.

To my confessors, thank you. When I told you the tears are not all sadness, I meant it.

To my team: man, oh, man you guys. Rarely have I been loved in my life like I felt loved yesterday and today.

To my wife, thanks for cheering me on. I do hear you and I may even stop trying to run the race solo so I can have a cup of coffee with you and kiss you and hold you for you are so precious, my darling and I couldn't do any of this without you.

You know, I think some day in the not-too-distant future I may be able to write a proper sentence again.

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