People of the Struggle

People of the Struggle April 15, 2014

Resurrections are on my mind this week.

Yours, too?

Specifically, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about personal resurrections. I happened upon a quote by Loren Eiseley that has got me to pondering. Perhaps you have heard it?

We are rag dolls made out of many ages and skins, changelings who have slept in wood nests or hissed in the uncouth guise of waddling amphibians.  We have played such roles for infinitely longer ages than we have been men.  Our identity is a dream.  We are process, not reality, for reality is an illusion of the daylight — the light of our particular day.  In a fortnight, as aeons are measured, we may lie silent in a bed of stone, or, as has happened in the past, be figured in another guise.  Two forces struggle perpetually in our bodies:  Yam, the old sea dragon of the original Biblical darkness, and, arrayed against him, some wisp of dancing light that would have us linger, witful, in our human form.  “Tarry thou, till I come again” — an old legend survives among us of the admonition given by Jesus to the Wandering Jew.  The words are applicable to all of us.  Deep-hidden in the human psyche there is a similar injunction, no longer having to do with the longevity of the body but, rather, a plea to wait upon some transcendent lesson preparing in the mind itself.

There is so much in that quote that calls to me. This notion that we are all process. Not yet arrived. Always evolving. Changelings. And that whatever identity we lay claim to, our true identity lies in ageless forces warring over us.

We are people of the struggle.

That part of humanity has remained unchanged. We struggle in ohsomany glorious and inglorious ways.

I’m glad for it, too. Because to take away the struggle is to give in, give up, to quit, to be resolved and there is so much we should never ever be resolved to accepting.

This week is Holy Week. It is also the week of our local One Book One Community read. This year the literacy committee for Altrusa picked Michael Morris’s book Slow Way Home as the city-wide read. Altrusa bought hundreds of copies of Slow Way Home and put them out in the community. Altrusa is bringing in author Michael Morris to talk about his novel and the back story of why he wrote it.

The novel is about a young boy who is abandoned by his drug-addled mother. His grandparents take him in and care for him. But then the mother shows back up and tried to reclaim custody of the boy and a struggle ensues.

I just got off the phone a little while ago with a Hermiston High School senior who is reading the book. “This is my story,” he said. “That Nana in the book? That’s my Nana. She’s just like that.”

I asked him if it was hard to read Morris’s book given his background.

“People ask me if it makes me angry, all that happened between me and my mom,” he said. “But it doesn’t. The way I figure it, if I hadn’t gone through what I went through, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

The person he is today is an articulate, thoughtful, kind-hearted fellow.

Resurrected from the struggle thanks to one devoted granny.

Resurrection isn’t something that happens at Easter. Resurrections take place every single day.

When we pray.

When we hope.

When we believe better for one another.

When we fight against the darkness.

When we rise above the abandonment and do better.

When we use the pain as a springboard.

When we speak words of kindness.

When we listen attentively.

Resurrections happen every single day in a million different ways: A gentle smile. A bouquet of daffodils. A hug. A latte. A phone call. A book shared.

I have a friend who signs his every note: You matter to me.

Isn’t that, in essence, the message Jesus was trying to get across?

You matter to me, people of the struggle.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain.


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