The bags under my eyes were prominent the other morning. They startled me, actually. It was as if I had just seen my age for the first time. It was a jolting shock, and I could almost feel the hands of the clock whipping around my exhausted face, aging me in a split second. I have heard people speak of pain that ages them overnight. I always felt I could understand how this could be, though this moment was as if I had no notion beforehand. I have to wonder if it’s the sort of aging that reels you in so closely to death, the skin (and soul) doesn’t bounce back from that degree of stretch. It’s as if trauma extracts the elastin right out of us, and we’re unable to restring the years that cast out in one streaming moment. The puddles under my eyes reflect this much and yet I still can’t believe my woeful sagging. Yet it’s indelible, the proof.
So what now? Salves and peels and lifts? What is the cure for maturing pain? Mature is a generous adjective to use before that word. It implies that it’s kind. I certainly don’t mean to imply that — it doesn’t seem kind. Yet, I want to know: am I to go the dreaded two miles with this wildebeest called pain? Dare I offer my other cheek to unprovoked unkindness?
Well, I can’t do that. At least not unless I am trusting something greater to keep me, bid me justice, and work good on my behalf. I cannot give my skin apart from this. I don’t go blazing bloody trails when it’s my blood on the trail. I wince and hesitate…hold my breath. It’s unnatural to surrender to another strike, or willfully go further than what is demanded, or give my shirt along with my coat. Who will take my care in this unjust manner? Jesus made it sound like the remedy to injustice was giving more of ourselves through it. Is the cure to pain responding kindly to its cruelty? When I see my face has drawn in like its wincing and pleading “no more” and feel time now holds twice the gravity, am I to render wide my deepest gashes and give more from the little I am? Maybe that’s stretching the metaphor a bit too far, and it may be that I do not attempt to heal my own wounds, or strike back (at whomever, including self), or hold back love. How does my soul not plain give way to the decrepitness of offense?
Actually, I’m quite weary of searching for metaphors for pain. It’s like I’m picking out suit ties for it. What fits and make sense best? It doesn’t make much sense. So that means I’m left to add the logic.
But I can’t; some things just don’t and won’t ever make sense.
OK, then I have to entrust it. Sow it. Invest it. Or it will never yield any return for me.
It can never be converted from senseless to productive pain if I hold onto it. My wringing hands serve as the vice that locks out grace. If I want pain to work for me, or even if it’s that I work with pain, I have to lay it all down somewhere safe. Inside of me and my offense is not that safe place. I’ve only found one safe place in all my searching, though I’ve vowed at times He wasn’t that at all. The truth is, He is less scary than me left to myself, and that’s enough for me to entrust pain right now…for me to say yes to failing flesh and vibrant spirit.