Wordy Wednesday: a Vine and a Black Cloud

Wordy Wednesday: a Vine and a Black Cloud April 12, 2017


Struggling, which is the Christian word for failure, to get all the way out of the sleep mode and into the awake one. The sky is gray and cloudy and full of threatening rain, which we don’t need, because the river is right at capacity. But it looks like the sky is going to divulge itself anyway.

I spent yesterday buzzing around town in consideration of Easter baskets and Easter dinner. The only reason I had so much energy on that score was because I was supposed of be doing something else. So now I will have to do that thing today, which means I’m putting off what I was going to do today until tomorrow. Holy Week Dominos.

Part of the problem is that I’m feeling so full of vim and pip that I can’t settle and do anything decently and in order. This thyroid medicine is fantastic, pure awesomeness. As the days have gone by and I’ve looked back over my shoulder at the last decade or so, I have to conclude that my thyroid, or something, has probably not been doing what it ought to have been doing for many a long day. Indeed, I can see in my mind’s eye the particular moment when a small black cloud came to hover over my head. It came and sat there and I would try to poke it with a stick to make it go away–throwing bible verses and self care at it, arguing with myself and God about its existence and purpose. To have the cloud suddenly dissipate and float away into the wide blue sky in a single afternoon with the swallowing of a single little white pill is so strange, so magical, so Not The Death And Suffering Plan. That’s all? Just swallow this pill?

That’s really the fix I think we’re all looking for in our lives. Just give me something to make me happy. Just a little small something that makes all the problems melt away. And why Jesus is always such a disappointment, because the longer you go along with him, the more the troubles multiply, the more the slings and arrows fly left and right and threaten to hit you right where it hurts.

When I consider my small black cloud, I am inclined on one hand to shake my fist at God, to sit under my withering vine and be angry. And whenever God says, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’ to put out my bottom lip and mutter, ‘Absolutely I do well to be angry.’ But the more sane and cheerful portion of me, the part that’s warring with the Jonah part, is astounded and amazed at the providence of God that got me up out of bed every morning for the last three years, as physical weakness came to match the spiritual and mental weakness that became my portion day by day. How on earth did I even stand up? Let alone keep up with school? Let alone make even a single pot of coffee at church? Let alone write a book? And pack for holidays? And cook dinner? And hack back my rose bush? And do anything at all? It must have been that I was blown along by Aslan’s breath over that great cliff. If it had been just me, I would have hit the bottom in a broken heap.

Not that everything is perfect now. I can see my failure to cut the fur of my poodle in a timely manner means that I am facing a terrible catastrophe. I can smell the Very Bad Thing that has happened to him. Which means that what I was going to do now will have to be put off till later. But really, why do today what you can do tomorrow? Surely, that must be what God thought for Jonah, there in the belly of the fish, there in the wilderness under his vine. Let’s just wait a little longer, says God, until suddenly it’s time to rescue you.

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