10.6.06

Looking Back in Vain

One week ends. One begins. I run in the late-afternoon heat to the beat of boyhood music—hoping to shed a few pounds along with the burdens of a week gone by. I have taken on the weight of a world’s problems. They haunt me. I wake in the dead of night—too cold or too hot—unable to sleep. My own mind whispers the cries of a thousand prayers to heaven: a spouse for each of the lonely (DJ, AB, SC, KK, DC); a child for each of the barren (MK, JS, RA); rest for the weary (AH, JW, JH); comfort for the grieving (too many to name). All creation groans, but I can hear its cry!

The sound of feet upon the graveled path sounds like the march of troops to war. In the wind, I imagine the sounds of soldier cries as they count out the steps to victory and defeat. In a time of war—when so many go to fight, when so many die, and the rest return to despair—I will not entertain melodrama; and yet, I feel so much a warrior, mortally wounded by the fight, wanting neither recognition nor award nor medal of honor, but only a long yard with a flourishing garden of flowers and fruit stretching into the undiscovered country of Mississippi woods and to the sunset beyond.

Saturday, I cut the grass, and how it passed so quickly. That (grass) which was cut first, which lay the longest hour in the sun had faded brown before the fumes of gasoline had cleared the air of the other end of the yard. And surely I understand now that man is like grass: Like the flower of the field, he flourished. The wind passes over it and it is gone, and it’s place remember it no more.

Friday, thoughts with GA—and my responsibility there—has consumed most of my workweek. If not for details of travel, room assignment, and shipment of supplies, I am constantly dinged by the irregular reminder of some minor detail that I’ve forgotten or, because of busyness, neglected. O, that all of life were not the running of this track, and the passage of the same growth of clover here, the same buried bottle-cap there, or the same coolness that wafts from the undergrowth at the south end where a stream can be heard bubbling somewhere in the shade of sagging trees!

Thursday, I met with others who will join me in Atlanta, and met an unexpected resistance. D___ had tasked them to arrange other meetings and I, left in that wake, to make sure the booth was managed well. In such moments, I see the unveiling of my weakness in leadership, my failure to cast a vision that is embraced by others and taken up with great fervor. I see the conflict of relational differentiation and find nothing within myself to combat (nor to conquer) the fears of failure and rejection (on the one hand) or gentle firmness (on the other).

Relational equity is as its lowest ebb. No time! NoTime! they cry, as though justification is born out of winds of change. The old line rings, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and I sigh with sickness at the longing for such a one as that—who, with unflinching stability, is as much carried away with solidarity and comfort as I. But we are a misunderstood people—the Felling-Intuits among us (INFJ)—fearing what we most desire, foregoing every relationship for the emotional space that can be found on in untroubled woods…

…or along such paths as that upon which I run. There is freedom here, where—in the sound of ear-bud music, the soundtracks of life drums and droll out the rhythm of our steps, like a soldier off to war, like a man in search of a brother-like friend, like an Intuit in pursuit of peace from the emotional invasion of a thousand unprotected feelings.

Creation groans; I sign in reply and only the sound of my feet (kissing gravel) supports the strings of that heart-borne exchange. The grass withers, the sun sets, the week ends, as all wars eventually do, and the old lines from that long-ago song ring in my ears:
"I’m going to live my life
Like every day is the last
Without a simple goodbye
It all goes by so fast

"I’m going to look back in vain
And see you standing there
When all that remains
Is an empty chair

"And now that you’re gone
I can’t cry hard enough…
I can’t cry hard enough,
For you to hear me now."

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