Thursday, March 20, 2014

Family Portraits, A Dog(Sled) and Faith Explained

This came home from school the other day:

It's a family portrait Nick did in Art Class.  That's me under the great green sun, sporting a inaccurately un-gray beard and a green sweater.  That was nice of him.  That's Marci next to me, smiling as always, wearing a scarf that matches her outfit.  I don't remember that flapper hairdo, but, it's nice.  Nick is smirking a bit there and his hair is the color of straw.  That's Zack there, far right, he doesn't look so thrilled, and his hair is also the color of straw.  I like his Reds shirt, it is red with, uh, a shirt on it.  Well, that's clever...

Zack did one as well, although he says he didn't have time to finish it:

I can only guess that the nerdy fellow is me.  Somehow, it looks like someone drew a face on the back of a bald man's head.  Man, I really need a new look...

And Zack made this:

The boys have been studying the Iditarod - I can only assume they know how to spell it, I just got it wrong, like, three times - at school.  It's pretty cool how they sort of link things all up these days in elementary.  They studied geography - Alaska and all that, and math - word problems and percentages and such, and science - weights and measures and the metric system and states of matter,  and reading - remember Balto, saved Nome by bringing the needed serum to thwart an outbreak of something or other.  It's all very well executed.  Zack distilled all of this knowledge into a dogsled - a sled, get this, with a dog image on it... with ears.  Isn't learning fun?

And then there is this:

Nothing pleases me more than the sight of a table strewn with supplies, works in progress.  It is a comfort to my soul, and a fodder for my blog.

And finally, this:

I've been carrying it in my pocket for a week or more and I realized today that it was about to become unreadable, so, I scanned it.  It says: "unquestioned faith" followed by "unanswered doubt."

Why would I write such seeming nonsense?  And why would I shuttle it about from pocket to pocket, not even reading it, through five or six changes of pants.  What point  is it trying to make to me, and why, you may be wondering, have I hung it on the wall of this space, this place that is present and past and future?  For whom is this message?

I know.  I just don't want to say.  Shame doesn't keep me from saying it, nor embarrassment, nor fear.  Mostly, I am think I will be misunderstood.

I am terrible at faith, honestly.  I doubt, and believe, and then doubt again.  I understand and then  misunderstand and then understand, better maybe, ebbing back and forth from piety to selfishness sometimes in the same hour, the same minute, the same heartbeat.

I was thinking and watching a fire late the evening I first jotted this note.  I was thinking about Lent and sacrifice, Paschal lambs and bunny eggs, and two opposing types of people came to mind.  Those I meet - strong and upright - who seem to have a faith so strong in their hearts that it appears, appears, mind you, unquestioned.  And, there are those, in whose trenches I imagined myself, who seem to have a doubt so firm - strong and upright as well - that it seems, seems, to go unanswered.

The piece of paper I carried in my pocket softened into almost tissue paper, it faded, and the lead smeared as the writing, words folded against words, rubbed a faint of echo of one over the other.  Today, when I looked finally looked at it again, it occurred to me that actual faith is between the two, in that upheaval of heart, that dishamrmony of soul, there, there is where God sits, waiting, understanding, forgiving.  For me at least.

So why put that here?  Someday, perhaps, the boys will need to hear that doubt and suredness, hope and despair, fear and comfort, balance each other, eventually.  There is a holiness in doubt, just as sure as there is a sacredness to faith.  I guess that is nothing new really, but, what I want you to know, now, later, whenever, is that your heart, my heart, our heart, can take the pain of that struggle, withstand it and even nurture it and that that turmoil and connection is indeed our very soul.

Instead of the usual backseat thingee, I give you:  " of our boys Marci put on her Face Book page..."  (It just doesn't roll of the tongue as well, does it?)

 Yes, our home seems very crowded sometimes, as full as our hearts...

Thanks for coming around again, I apologize if I got too serious there at the end.  I think too damn much.  See you again, right?


  1. What does the G in the sun stand for in Nick's family portrait? I have a thought but just wondering.

    1. It is not a 'G' but what he calls a "swirly sun," they are sort of a fad. Thanks for stopping around, Kevin, always great to see you.

  2. "unquestioned faith" followed by "unanswered doubt."

    Big motivators to push ahead, seek, search and learn.

  3. Questioning is good. Eventually, it leads to answers or at least more questions. It ultimately leads to wisdom.