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Instant Time

April 17, 2021

Yesterday and early hour seemed like a day. It was quite wonderful.

Other times hours are instantaneous, but worse, sometimes memory becomes present tense.

Time has to be perceived to be recorded in our minds. That perception can be as murky as insomnia, where a minute lasts an hour, or 4 hours becomes a minute, or some trigger makes 60 years cease to exist.

A smell makes a locker room from 40 years ago return. Bells bring Buffalo to Connecticut. Instant mashed potatoes makes Thanksgiving 1966 any day I eat them.

Music does the same thing. A song by The Who makes me the Captain if the Football Team again. But the triggers are not always positive.

A song that was never a favorite came over our speakers one night, “My Name Is Luka” by Suzanne Vega. It is in the words of an 8 or 9 year old abused child. Not a great hit, but heard in our rotation, because we saw her sing live, once, a decade ago. Most probably just know that it is a snappy tune, well sung, nicely arranged. But what caused it to be written, what causes this to be written, is that memories are implanted more deeply the earlier they are plowed into the furrows of the brain.

If you hear something late at night

Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight

Just don’t ask me what it was

Just don’t ask me what it was

Just don’t ask me what it was

I think it’s because I’m clumsy

I try not to talk too loud

Maybe it’s because I’m crazy

I try not to act too proud

The words were heard. Tears erupted to water those memories, as fresh as when they were made, that made the words mean more than melody.

I also hear 1966 whenever “Be Thou Still My Strength and Shield” is sung: the words, literally screamed off the hymnal – then and now. It was and is 1966 because a complicated, even cruel, childhood made whole parts of memory fear. Those years never left physical damage, or even discomfort, but nightly screaming and daily intoxication made the day-to-day fully terrorizing.

We are sometimes tender. Not most days now, but often in our tiny years. Vulnerability makes pain validate fear, and the scars of the fulfilled promise of pain can become fresh. Some simply do not go away. Some are brought alive instantly despite uncounted time whatever pain is relived.

This has been a year of Luka’s. Children are, this year, fully at home living with the broken in sequestration, and I am pretty sure that more will become broken in a place of no retreat.

Those days are not understood, because children have the understanding offered to them. I could pray then, it is harder now – because I am OK. But in my 6 year old brain I do not deserve that status. So when I pray now it is fleeting, caused by triggers of unmerited Grace, and I utter “Thanks, Sorry.”

The rituals and constructs of centuries of humanity confronting the reality of God found in the infinite moments of weakness, fear and pain have deep meaning to those who were part of the huge social engine of church. But now, a new generation simply does not go to church. Now a newer generation has been scarred by this last year of isolation and fear.

I know God is there, because I cannot deny Him, no matter how hard I try. I try by every achievement and triumph. But the failures of the past well up in a second of smell, eating or taste. Or happen in an email of rejection or the silence of failure. Those vulnerabilities, soon fully manifest in an old body and mind getting older, are the places fear is fulfilled.

That is where God is, too.

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