The weekly good today is faith.
Writing is an act of faith: the idea that one will write something and it will make sense to another human being is kind of preposterous, let alone the idea that it will become their story, too. That it moves, swiftly gliding through the muck that rises between us as people, the muddiness of the workings of individual experience, and somehow manages to appeal to the collective hive mind.
Then, too, living is an act of faith: simply getting up the morning, putting clothes for a job one hopes to keep or lose, sitting at the kitchen table munching toast and making plans... means one believes that it will all happen, that one will be here in one hour, as well as that afternoon and the next day. Paying bills, dreaming of vacations, filling up the gas tank, cleaning the house for guests that will arrive on the weekend, breaking up with lovers because there is something better, finding your true self, speaking your truth. It all means you must believe in something more than your small self, as on your own, you are little more than a collection of atoms loosely strung together, like Christmas tinsel, glinting, reflecting.
When I was a small child, I recall having a balcony once, off of my bedroom. I was not supposed to go out on it, but I did, often, during that short time we lived there. I would wait until everyone was quiet and sleeping, and then I'd slide the glass door slowly so it would not make a sound. I would step out on the balcony and look up a the sky.
It was big, and I was small.
I would listen, and I would talk, long winded monologues, secrets, private mumblings in code. Perhaps there was someone listening to me, too. How badly I wanted that!
At some point, perhaps eight or nine, I decided someone/something was listening. It seemed impossible to me that the things of beauty that I could see, existed accidentally without some magical string of lights to bind then together. It also seemed impossible that no one was listening because things were getting better in my child-life, and I felt it must because those fervent speeches I made on that balcony that year had been heard.
It was also more than that though: a settledness in myself. It was as though a glass jar of pebbles that been shaken so hard that it shattered, but instead of the feeling of absence that comes with such violence, it was peaceful. There was a strange order in the glass and pebbles mixed together and spread out, everything in its place. It felt as though all the elements had separated and then reformed in the pleasing pattern.
Later on, much later, I would often return to that feeling of being spread out, perhaps even walking on the glass shards but never being cut. I was always above, appreciative of the design below. Sometimes the patterns of the design didn't show up readily and it was only after an set of actions put into motion that I saw the purpose of what seemed random at first being an unfolding.
Once, I was Guatemala, in an outdoor market, buying vegetables and plastic flim-flam things I don't recall. The market lane was very crowded, packed with people doing their weekly shopping. It was a bright sort of loudness, and there were several kinds of music and chickens in cages and fish in big turquoise buckets.
Then the crowd parted wide, like arms opening, and a person came walking slowly down the center of the lane, feet barefoot on the ground that was littered with candy wrappers and vegetable trimmings. It got very quiet and the music was still playing, but like in slow motion, far away, like multiple music boxes when you stop turning the handle. The sound that stood out above all others was the difference of the crunch of the person's feet on bits of plastic and then the slick slipperiness on torn cabbage leaves and mango peelings.
The person looked different than anyone I'd ever seen. Their face and body looked run over, with tracks of violet and blue, red patches like birthmarks and grey brownish bits here and there. They walked slowly with their head high, and people looked away, or covered their children's' faces.
There came the moment when they were no longer far away, but quite close to me. I stood by the fish stall, surrounded by the sea, the smell of fish and salt and lime. I saw the person in a different way now, their features all out of place, like bubbles or bumps, rather than a nose, mouth and ears. I felt them moving deliberately towards me it. I stood very still, counting their steps, their gait measured despite one leg dragging a little behind. It was scarcely noticeable, because they were walking with such regal purpose, on a straight line to where I stood. But the dragging had a rhythm: one, long two, shuffle, repeat.
Our eyes met, and I realized that they had not been in an accident. They were a leper. I had never seen one before, although I'd read descriptions once or twice. Strangely, once I realized this I was not sure if I should look away or not, I did not know what would be best. Yet they kept moving towards me, staring at me, and it felt like there was no one else there but myself and them. I could hear the rustle of people stepping back, and I could see a blur of blues and greens and reds, hands and faces, but just barely, for I was pulled in entirely by the leper's gaze. I did not discern male or female; I only recall their eyes and our connection.
My market bags were full, and I held one in each hand, the plastic handles bowing and the material pulling against beets, carrots, tomatoes, spices, dried beans, tinned fish. I felt myself moving forward, being pushed, something in the small of my back, sharp. Not uncomfortable, but distinct, concentrated, forceful. I moved without walking and found myself in front of the leper, face to face.
I set my bags down. The leper picked them up and kept moving, not pausing, until they were gone, and the crowd blended again together.
It was so extraordinary, it felt like God was there.
I'm remembering this incident today, as I have felt lately that there are no ordinary happenings, and that the things cast in front of us or that we leave behind are connected to us having been heard at some point. I am leaving many things behind me right now, and as I turn away from them, I feel that same familiar pressure in the small of my back, and find myself moving without walking again.
The weekly good today is faith. Everything is placed where it is for a reason, and even if we cannot see the pattern in this moment, it is there. Things that are out of place don't touch us, we are far above them, looking down below. And when we are the ground, a force is with us, guiding, protecting, showing.
When you stop and think about it, there's nothing ordinary about one's life.