Friday, November 19, 2004

With Arms Folded For Warmth

"So my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything change you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted."
-- 1 Cor. 15:58, NCV
The night started uneventfully enough, I guess. We were just sitting around the room, belly-aching about why the football team wasn't winning, or why the weather was cruddy, or what junk our bosses or professors had been dishing out this week. I was sitting in the recliner my folks had donated from Flintstone times. Alex was sprawled on the couch, staring at the ceiling instead of anyone's eyes in this mish-mash conversation. Jenny was in front of the PC, chatting with some guy in Saskatchewan about the deeper philosophical meanings behind Canadian League football rules. Mitch was in the other chair, just absently staring out the window at the gray clouds floating across the horizon, chilly with drizzle, rushing to fill every warm void with a solid chill.

"So what am I going to do, man?" Alex said, mainly to nobody, since none of us were really listening right then. It had been one of those lulls in conversation that happens from time to time -- you know, when there's nothing to say on the old topic, nothing to start a new one, and everyone's kind of at that point where they're somewhere between being anxious about what's coming next and just being really happy and fulfilled, among friends, without words garbling the communication.

"What are you going to do about what?" Jenny asked, not looking away from her chat screen, not stopping the typing, effectively carrying on two completely different conversations at the same time (girl thing?).

"About my girlfriend?" Alex had been having problems with his latest "conquest," because this time, unlike all the other times, his eyes were dead giveaways to the effect she was having on him. "She's so perfect, I mean, in every way, you know? But there's this church thing... what's up with that?"

I chimed in. "Ditch her, big guy. She might be the right one, but that churchy thing never works in the real world. If you can't change her, let her fly."

Jenny's turn: "How rude. She's got her beliefs, and you've got yours. You might want to look at hers, but hold tight to yours I always say." (How could she talk and type that fast at the same type?!?) "I went to church, too, and I didn't turn out too bad, did I?"

Sarcastic silence inserted here.

"Well, DID I? Oh you morons," she slapped out, emotionally assaulting us.

Alex ignored the onslaught. "She's not pushy or anything. I mean, physical relations are out of the question, you know, but it doesn't matter as much about that to me. Not this time. It's like when we talk about life and the cosmos and junk, she's so sure in herself. Or in God. And she's not like those guys on campus who preach about hell and damnation -- she's comfortable about not necessarily having all the answers, not knowing all there is to know. It's a, um... peace, I guess. A hope that this is only getting better."

By this time in his unplanned soliloquy, we were all mesmerized: Jenny stopped typing, I stopped clicking the remote, Mitch... well he still stared out the window. "She's so firm, and strong. And I've got to tell you, as much of a turn-on that is, it's more... thrilling?... that she lives out this sense of adventure that's appealing... and... well it's different."

I looked at Jenny; she was smiling in an odd way, like she was wrestling with happy thoughts dancing in her head. "I wish I had that," she said quietly, to no one in particular, and to everyone in the room maybe, and I think she might've been typing that in the IM, too. I didn't say anything, just nodding my head, flipping the channels again, thinking about my own search for adventure, hope... sense of belonging, love, peace.

Mitch was still staring out the window, watching the weather go by, folding his arms again for warmth.

[i originally wrote this in 1998, part of an email list, sharing my thoughts on how we impact others with just being real, asking real questions, seeking real relationship with a very real God... still cool when i saw it again today]


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