Thursday, November 08, 2007

Refresh, refresh, refresh....

By now you know I get a lot of email newsletters and such. The one I read just now is one from Christianity Today about books.

"Refresh, Refresh" follows two young, rough-and-tumble boys' efforts to make sense of their world after their fathers have been sent to Iraq. They do it in the only way that they know how—boxing to exhaustion in the backyard, playing a hunting prank on football players, and pummeling the recruitment officer before he can declare whose father it is who has died. With their computer mouses, they click refresh, refresh, to see if, possibly—just maybe—their fathers have replied to their emails, so the boys can know their dads are still alive. (Elissa Elliot, Making sense of a broken world, CT book of the week.)

As a woman who is spent beyond her last dollar -- thank goodness for my savings account -- and who is experiencing that moment where people seem shut down, I can totally relate. It seems like I spent an entire day at the computer (drama queen) hitting refresh refresh.

Here's a poem that I found in college. It speaks to where I am and where some people in my life are right now.

Childhood Is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies

Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age
The child is grown, and puts away childish things.
Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.

Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course
Die, whom one never has seen, or has seen for an hour,
And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green striped bag, or a jack-knife,
And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.

And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,
And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion
With fleas that one never knew were there,
Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,
Trekking off into the living world.
You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now:
So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.

But you do not wake up a month from then, two months,
A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night
And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say
Oh God! Oh God!

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,
--mothers and fathers don't die.

And if you have ever said, "For heaven's sake, must you always be kissing a person?"
Or, "I do wish to gracious you'd stop tapping on the window with your thimble!"
Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,
Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry, mother."

To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died, who neither listen nor speak;
Who do not drink their tea, though they always said
Tea was such a comfort.

Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries; they are not tempted.

Flatter them, ask them what was it they said exactly
That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;
They are not taken in.
Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,
Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake them and yell at them;
They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed;
they slide back into their chairs.

Your tea is cold now.
You drink it standing up,
And leave the house.

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, thanks to someone's online Shrine to this particular queen of poetry.)

The colors are self explanatory except to say that when I found this poem, I thought that these would be the colors it would be printed in, if one were to print it graphically.

I wept on and off all day. I'm under a ton of stress and I have to just soldier on. Sleep is NOT God--all the sleep in the world is not going to heal this wound, this brokenness that comes to everyone--it doesn't matter if you're crying because your kitten died, or your car, or your dad is in Iraq. And some people don't cry when they're stressed, they just shut down. That is what this poem is about, the people who are crying and the people that are shut down. (Guess which one I am?)

You're gonna cry, cry, cry and you'll cry alone,
When everyone's forgotten and you're left on your own.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry.

(Johnny Cash, "Cry, Cry Cry")

All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. No matter what. (Dame Julian of Norwich. Madeleine L'Engle coined the "no matter what.")

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