For the Time Being

I hope you have adventures, she said, not kindly but with an edge, as if to say: I hope you do something better with your life than this. The dying man in the bed looked long at me and shook his head. Don’t leave me alone, he said, when she was gone.

Last month my friend Sarah sent me the article On Living, by Alan Noble. I haven’t shared other writings here before as this place is a test plot for my own words, and I know if you are kind and slow enough to read here you are a Reader and surely reading elsewhere already. This piece, though. Please read it. I have had friends in life, old and young, who have come to a time when their existence is all they have to give, and very seldom do they want to go on giving day by day. But it is true what he says: You need to know that your being in the world is a witness. 

Recently a man explained to me patiently that abortion is a better option than food stamps and foster care, because those kids won’t grow up to be anything worthwhile anyway. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that’s a lie, but I don’t mind saying it again. One of my best friends was a baby like this. She grew up homeless and addicted to every hurtful thing. When she wasn’t stealing, she was a burden on the system. She has homemade tattoos, ugly scars, shot-out veins and decades of stories you wouldn’t want to hear too late at night, but even in the gutters, with every fast beat of her heart, every knife fight and cold night, her life testified of God’s grace. Now as a wife and mother, even on her best days, she’ll tell you that’s what it’s still about. 

I often go hunting and what is required is a willingness to be still and quiet and alone for many hours. You become like the sycamore and the cattails. You learn where the wood duck sleeps and how many of their young survived. You know the trail of the beetle across the water, the swirl of the fish and the dip of the kingfisher. You have seen the fog come running, like a white ghost whistled for. You are sometimes cold and lost and you are always unnecessary. This is in fact, the very key. You are nothing in the world but a creature capable of being what you were made for: a seer, a waiter, a listener, a little keeper of the peace and little piece of the kept. Your being in this world is a witness. As the White-throated Sparrow sings O Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody, grace testifies through you simply in the hearing of a song that says there is, above all, a loving God. 

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