The Everlasting Self
Comes in from a downpour
Shaking water in every direction-
A collaborative condition:
Gathered, shed, spread, then
Forgotten, reabsorbed. Like love
From a lifetime ago, and mud
A dog has tracked across the floor.*
Some events are everlasting.
Jesus conquers death, some are shaken off like water off Nessie when she comes in from the rain.
Nessie has to go out, even if the weather is what Houston weather often is. She will fetch a ball on ice, through puddles, in mud, and with clouds of dust. As a fellow creature, as she gets wet, frozen, muddy, dusty, I do as well. That’s life and I cannot use any virtual tool to clean myself up. Nessie’s mess endures in corners, floors, rugs, furniture, just as our own does. We eventually get clean and forget, but all this happened and becomes part of who we are.
If our souls endure, then these smalls things, even forgotten and reabsorbed, are part of us.
Nessie the Wonder Dog and I share the experience, both being animals.
When we do, if I am in a reflective mood, and not just crabby about being damp, I am reminded of the Tracy K. Smith poem, The Everlasting Self. Smith compares this wet dog shaking off the rain, to our human loves: collaborative, forgotten, reabsorbed, muddy tracks in our lives.
What then is everlasting? If love does not endure, then what can?
Our human loves are not all touched with divinity.
The self may be everlasting with relationships that endure, but many do not. They are good, necessary, but an accidental feature of being human. We find friends and then we part, because the time for parting comes. We join a club, play for a team, then life moves us forward. We were there and now are here. We keep loving and this is good, but not all love is forever. The vow I made to Hope was after all until death parts us.
What will that relationship be in eternity?
The Church suggests something lasts, but some will not. There will be, in one sense, no marrying or giving in marriage. She will endure, an everlasting self, but much of our collaboration will be done. Some will be forgotten, reabsorbed, the tracks to paradise get wiped up.
This seems sad, but not if one recalls that some relationships by their very nature are temporary.
They are good for the time and should not be taken out of that time. A regrettable feature of video streaming is that one can see childhood cartoons as an adult. They were not made for repeat viewing and some such as the Super Friends are best loved forgotten. They influenced me, maybe. They certainly gave my brother and me a good bit of fun, but they are incapable of doing so now. This a love best forgotten, reabsorbed, into an everlasting life or it runs the risk of being ridiculous.
I do not know if some aspects of human relationships to other animals endures: I suspect they might, but not every detail.
Some moments of love, our jolly game of fetch today, will be forgotten and reabsorbed. Nessie’s muddy prints are gone already, yet there is more as well. The collaboration sometimes endures and becomes meaningful in a different way. That is surely the case with marriage and even more so with deep friendships. Each day, each collaboration, is a temporary love and with hints of the everlasting if only in the immortal soul.
My opinions, so lovingly made, are often temporary: muddy tracks over everlasting Logos. They are happily reabsorbed, removed, and love keeps pushing forward toward Wisdom.
The joyful downpour of love continues: temporary and everlasting.
*From Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate of the United States, page 71. The poem is complex. I do not propose this as “what it means,” but what the words reminded me of today. I am confident that I can let this reading go, shake it off, and find something better tomorrow! So we should do with all great works. . .