The majority of my life (I’ve missed a day or a week, here and there) has been marked with time spent reading (or listening to a reading) of the Bible. I suspect, that if you read any book for that long and with that regularity, you would begin to associate; this book would become a part of your remembered life and would play a great role in how you frame your experiences–the metaphors you use to understand new things. Also, and avid music fans should understand what I’m getting at … if you spent your adolescence listening to a looped mix of your favorite songs, there’s a good chance that one of those songs has the power to bring back old feelings, to refresh the memory of events, happy and sad. The Bible works on me in that way, but I have also grown into it. The book has become a part of my life, and not without struggle, and not without the Communion, and (even were I to never read it again) there’s no way now to disentangle it, to root it out of the fibered mind. Nevertheless, at times, this life with the book is an uneasy comfort.
A few days ago I read, again, a passage that continues to haunt me:
O Lord, you know;
remember me and visit me,
and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance do not take me away;
know that on your account I suffer insult.
Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.
I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,
nor did I rejoice;
under the weight of your hand I sat alone,
for you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unceasing,
my wound incurable,
refusing to be healed?
Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
like waters that fail.
These lines, in all their bitterness and devotion, hurt. I have made (inadvertently, I hope) the canker worse by including some of them in a poem. A poem that I wrote in fear and love and, as it turns, much that I feared has come, raging and foul, to be. Or perhaps, even now, this is only (false-)prophesy, self-fulfilled.
From time to time I meet people, who say (when they mean they are too sophisticated for God and embarrassed for me) something like: “Oh, your faith must be a real comfort for you”. I usually laugh. I just don’t know how to respond; “Yes, I’m an superstitious, unsophisticated, extremist”? There are times that I might say “yes” without hesitation and there are other times. So, if Jeremiah 15 is a “comfort”, yes. A lonely comfort at times, like the weight of God’s hand, like a wound that will not heal. An uneasy, painful comfort. These words, “a joy”, from Jeremiah hurt now, more than ever; which is, to say, in my life they are true. Perhaps it is the “true” that makes them a comfort.