Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moments of Joy

Quarter to six and I'm on my way home, the sun to my left reflecting melted gold into my mind. It's the middle of January and the evening and it's sixty-one degrees outside, and the moment is joy and I breathe it in, absorbing it like the sunshine.  

Emerge from my classes into the evening sunshine: oh summer-time, flip-flop feeling that the sun is still up and the air is still warm! My mind is mulling thoughts like wine from professors and students; my crazy Renaissance English Lit professor asked us if our classroom, when we left it, still existed, and how much of what we see is decisions we make, not just passive perception? What if the scientific model of taking humans out of the equation to make it more accurate is wrong? What if humans are the whole point? My classmates sputtered protests and I grinned in my corner desk, for I still read fairy tales, and I like to believe in impossibilities. (How else could I believe in the doctrines of Christianity? God become man? How is that possible? Yet I think it is true, all the same.) In the other class, the class I thought was something else and wasn't, the one I thought perhaps I might drop today, but didn't: the professor did not look aghast when I proposed that perhaps no one is entitled to an education, perhaps education is a privilege, and perhaps the dismal state of education in our country is due to thinking that we are entitled to  it. Things perhaps I would not have dared to say at the university in Colorado, but maybe here in Texas there are people who might listen? The discussion of the class darted about like a dance of grasshoppers. My intellect could taste the joy.

Wife and grown-up, that's me; I go to the Market Street United Supermarket and the struggling chef inside me, starved on Walmart for the past couple weeks, took a giant breath and revived as I wandered the produce aisle, choosing zucchini and yellow squash, marveling at emerald and sulfur skins. I think of all the different kinds of foods there are to create. I read aloud in class the few lines in Metamorphoses of Prometheus creating Man; what was Ovid after in his verses about what makes humans human? Well, for one thing, we are creative even down to the food that we eat. Else why this abundance in the supermarket? Why preferences? The Pilot and I both love guacamole; I made it last week and I make it again tonight. Somehow liking guacamole, that little moment of joy when the chip goes into the mashed green innards that cast such a spell on the taste buds, that's part of being human. 

Tuesday night Bible study with other pilot-wives, second time this week: Char brought me. She is my beautiful hostess from visiting-the-Pilot days; her husband, my husband's friend and in the same pilot training class. She turned from hostess into friend, and now she is moving to California in not many days, my first bittersweet taste of saying goodbye to Air Force friends. I arrive here to live, and she is leaving. But first she brings me into this group of women and they welcome me unabashedly, the afghan-warmth, the joy of the surrounding spirits of girls like me, the feeling that we are all in this together, our men in different classes and bound for different places, but we are all Air Force and we will cling fast to each other. Last year I prayed at various times, and my close friends and sisters prayed too, that community would come for me in this new place. Deep down I am astonished to find it so fast, and then wonder why I wonder that on this occasion God delights to answer my prayer "Yes!" 

Is my crazy Renaissance English Lit professor right? Is what we see mostly a decision? Is it a choice, for example, to see the joy in guacamole? Yes, there's frustration, there's annoyance, there's daily routine that can become dull if we choose to forget the magic, but surely there's something to be said for the phrase, "It's all in how you look at it". Can we choose to see the world as God made it, magic and mystery and moments of joy? 


  1. you have a gift friend!

    in regards to your thoughts about education - tonight I was struck by this idea, penned by Madeleine L'Engle:
    "In one of his dialogues, Plato talks of all learning as remembering. The chief job of the teacher is to help us to remember all that we have forgotten. ... One of the great sorrows which came to human beings when Adam and Eve left the Garden was the loss of memory, memory of all that God's children are meant to be"

    Well, after reading through that again, perhaps it addresses several of your thoughts! :)
    I'd highly recommend her book Walking on Water if you're searching for a kindred spirit to savor the pleasure of fairy tales and impossibilities alongside!

    1. Thank you, Julianne!

      I love that quote! Is that from Walking on Water? As soon as I get a library card down here, I will get it!

      I like to think of that kind of thing as "echos of Eden". I think subconsciously every human being knows that life isn't the way it's supposed to be, and that's why everyone gets so angry when seemingly senseless tragedies occur. Whether we recognize it or not, we know deep within ourselves that this is not what we were made for.