To Love This Poor Perishable World

To Love This Poor Perishable World July 23, 2015

20150531_155023 (2)We moved to Portland, Oregon a few months ago. New job. New home. A chance to put down roots. Hence my long absence from this space.

You might imagine that I was rather alarmed the other week, reading the New Yorker article on the inevitable Cascadia earthquake. I’ve experienced quakes before, living my preteen years in Southern California, but I was surprised to learn just how woefully unprepared the Pacific Northwest is for this major earthquake. And I have my own children now.

My wife and I wanted a home that felt permanent, but I can’t feel permanency anymore–not because we’re packing our bags, but because this beautiful city will in places crack and in places crumble. Each day as I walk from the bus stop to my office building downtown, I see rubble and ruin, glass shattering, brick cascading. I see the dead. I see a mortal city with a mortal wound.

But then I look again and I see that “all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” Cars and buses, pedestrians and trains, moving about, alive and well. The life of this weird, wonderful city beats on. If only temporarily. Which is all any of us ever gets.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Marilynne Robinson’s glorious novel Gilead, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a wish the dying John Ames has for his very young son: “I want your dear perishable self to live long and to love this poor perishable world, which I somehow cannot imagine not missing bitterly.”

Love this poor perishable world.

That’s good advice. I will try to do this.

And put down roots.

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