Evil Everywhere. Paul as an Example. No Anxiety. Closing Thoughts.
“…One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
Philippians 3:13b (NIV)
I am really good at forgetting.
I lost infancy instantly – don’t we all? My parents picked up our family and moved within the first year of my life. It was a small house on Juniper Street in one of the less seedy sections of Norristown, but they wanted something bigger. I don’t remember anything about it – the layout, the colors, the lawn. I drove by it once when I was grown to see if it stirred anything within me. It didn’t. The grown visit didn’t do anything for me – I don’t remember what it looks like now.
What does anyone really remember about being a toddler? That must have gone right when I hit middle school or something. I have an initial memory (don’t we all?). There were tarps hanging all around my kitchen and strange men wandering through. My mother stood above me as the strange men went in and out of the tarps. She fed me mush on a spoon. I recalled this later, and my mother said that when we first moved into our new house, they had a wall removed and a counter put in its place. That must have been it.
Childhood left somewhere in college. It must have been the seriousness of it all – suddenly thrust into adulthood, even though we acted like children. It left in pieces. Long bike rides that led to solo trudges through the woods. Playing James Bond against imaginary Dr. No’s with a plastic cap gun. Sure, the information of the memories remained in tact, but the emotions departed. And what is memory without emotion? Akin to personal news reporting. I am not interested in the facts, ma’am. I want them spun so I don’t need to interpret. Send me a pundit.
I gave up on pictures in college; I never cared for mementos. Seriously, ask me to take a picture, and… well… I’ll begrudgingly do it, but I doubt I will ever look at the results late. They’re posed, are they not? Are they reflections of reality? Maybe I ought to reconsider them – they are a reality spun into optimization. This is how we want to remember it, we say.
I don’t meant to be pessimistic – crap. No, not all pictures – posed or not – fetishize reality, and I know that. But they sure as hell look fake to me. If you’re looking at the camera, that means you saw it coming. I’ve never seen reality coming. Have you? I’m just trying to keep up.
Paul sets the tone for the entire Christian movement. He says, forget the past and look towards the future. We all know what he means, right? He is not telling us to think optimistically about the next fiscal year or the perfect girl who is just around the corner. No, he means forget this life and think about the next one.
I am maladjusted. I am unprepared. I am so good at forgetting when all I want to do is remember.
We’re in a constant state of loss, Paul. Do you really need to remind us to forget the past?
Why am I so scared of eternity? Why am I so focused on it? Why does my heart stop when Paul tells me to look forward to it, when everyone else rattles off their blessings, pounding their heels into the carpet of the church, overjoyed at the salvation offered to them for the small price of 80 years (or less)? They close their eyes and pray, speaking in languages dead, gripping the sides of their dresses out of the love, the love, the love, and wonder how they could ever be so lucky as to receive it. But here I am wondering and and sweating and pounding my heels. Is it love? Is this what love looks like?