by Dave B
A symbolic description of the impossibility of living a good life by sheer determination.
|I wish I could understand the movements of God--that I could somehow fall into line with it, catch its stream like a kite to a northern wind. More often than not, I feel like Uncle Henry trying to hatch the storm door down while Dorothy is still in search of Toto. Find the movement of God? No, I would rather bunker down, hide underground, and wait for it to pass. Being around during such a movement could be life-changing, dangerous even.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there is a movement, even that the movement in some mysterious way is all around me, but to join the movement, to find the rhythm and move within its tempo, often escapes me.
When on those rare days I come up from underground and dare to brave the movement, I am often found head down and resolutely plodding forward against its flow, staring it in the face and sinking my feet and hands into the dirt, clawing slowly in opposition. I grew up believing that the path towards God was a toll road, one that could only be tread upon if my good actions could pay the tremendous price above and beyond my failings. But on this grand scale of personal justice, I would always find myself lacking. If I stumbled on the journey--if I lusted, lied, cheated--the only way I could scramble back onto the straight and narrow path was by sheer grit and determination. One sin threw off the weight of good living and had to be counter-balanced with good deeds or a powerful and emotive altar call that would leave me in tears. This would chase me back on to the trail, always moving forward with trepidation of what impropriety was around the corner that would start this vicious and constant cycle again.
Yet, God’s wind of grace was constantly blowing. In one sense, it was what kept blowing me off the false path of the straight and narrow. This wind pushed against me, fervently attempting to remind me that my strivings would never keep me on a path. Each time I was blown away from my false trail, I had to reassess my belief that this path was even possible. Yet, time after time I would manage to throw my near-dead body back onto the path and start once again.
Any alternative to me looked like simple hedonism. If I indeed no longer strived for perfection, it would obviously lead to a life devoid of God all together. If I no longer tread this path, it meant that I would be giving in to every carnal desire that lay just off the beaten track. There really was no other option but to lean into the heavy dust-laden wind and slowly trod on.
But I reached a point in my life where this was no longer an option. My face was wind-burned, my eyes dried out, my feet shaky and weak from the walk. My arms could no longer pull myself back onto the path when I fell from its steep precipice.
At this moment of total dejection, I turned my back on the false path and found that the wind changed in nature. No longer was I in constant battle with the movement, but now was pushed on, driven forward by its force. To move with the wind meant that I often did not follow the path, in fact, sometimes the wind pushed me into places that I believed were off the trail entirely. I began to understand that the movement of God knows no boundaries, knows no set of rules and regulations. It blows in whatever direction it wills, and by pretending to control its direction, I actually proclaim my own false deity.
I still don’t understand the movement. I many times still believe that I know what direction it is taking me, and I act on this assumption, only finding myself in a full-blown headwind. At these moments, I look to the dark path I once slogged along, I see the dry, cracking earth of deadness and infertility, and I turn my back to the wind, drop my expectations, and allow the movement of God to take over.