Sunday, September 20, 2015

Haunted Conversations

My life is made up of quiet days. In the last week, with this pesky sprained ankle, I've been even less mobile than usual. I'm used to this. I'm used to this rhythm of not hearing my own voice for hours at a time (except when I'm talking to the dogs). And I'm okay with my quiet life. I'm content in it. I like it.

But even in this quiet life, even in this extra quiet week in this quiet life, I'm awed--yes, that's the word--with the kind of conversations that come when I'm not looking. I had a couple of conversations this week that have held my attention long after the echoes left the room. A person I've known for many years finally opened up about marriage, about her faith, her hopes, her trust in God within that marriage. It was a down and dirty conversation, without artifice or the kind of phrases I'm used to in conversations with this person. I felt privileged to listen to this person, to be present to the processing with them of some difficult things. They were sweet hours we spent together. Holy hours. The decision this person has come to isn't the popular decision in our culture, but it's definitely a godly one. Prayed over, cried over, worshiped over, and lived out in faith. I am awed by this. Impressed. It's haunted me as a Christ-haunted kind of conversation. He was present in it, and I know--I KNOW--He's in the faithfulness of this friend.

Today another friend stopped by. This is a man Beve and I have been having frequent Sunday afternoon conversations with for the last 3 years. Three years It's hard to believe it's been so long. Three years ago this month, his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor and told she only had months to live. She has lived three years. There was a honeymoon stage of about 14 months when she able to move fairly well, but since then, it's been hard. Just plain hard living. So our friend comes over for conversation. We are the safe place where he can be completely honest about how hard it is to be the care-giver, to be living out the "in sickness" part of the marriage vows. He tells us of the worst moments, the things he doesn't want to tell his kids: the way he's done in by 7 pm, the middle of the night trying to lift her, moods and moods that shift on a dime, the disintegration of all that makes her her, the way he feels ambivalent at times about her life and feels terrible that he feels  ambivalent.  She's a mere shadow of herself now. She has a single working limb, only a spattering of coherent language, but the strongest of wills that she's always had. He lets it all out in our kitchen while we drink tea because none of us drinks anything stronger. Our hearts ache together. He tells us he used to imagine--when this started--all the people who had it worse, but he can't remember them anymore. We tell him we love him, that we learn from him, that we are better at loving each other because how he loves his wife.

In a way, these Sunday conversations are also God-haunted. This man is not a person who shares our faith. I am always--ALWAYS!!--conscious of all the people I learn from who do know share my faith. I don't have a corner on the market on how to love. I don't pretend to. This man, this beautifully grieving, loving man teaches me. And I learn. I recognize that our moments together are sacred. He feels it too. He gets a babysitter for his wife now so he can have these conversations. He needs them that much. We always ask him what we can do for him as he's leaving and he tells us, "This. This is what you can do. This what I need from you." Bearing each others' burdens is not merely for those IN the church, it's for all who are grieving, hurting.

So in my quiet life, I feel honored that there are these conversations.
Help me be awake to notice them.
Are there sacred conversations in your life? Do you know what I mean by God-haunted? He's behind every word, behind the words, and the silences.

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

Yes. I understand this. So thankful you can be there for these dear ones. God has placed you there. You may think you are sitting at home not doing much "out there"...and God brings who's "out there" "in there"...right into your lap so to speak, because HE knows HE can trust you that much. He knows that you will be the right sounding board for these dear ones. What a gift! What a privilege! What a calling! What a blessing for all concerned on both sides. Your "haunted conversations" give me goosebumps! The right kind. Not scary...blessed. Thank you for sharing this with us. I feel honored to be a by-stander to the blessing...from a distance.