03 February 2006

I'm glad our heads have walls.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

I remember running with Jules, between the fields, on one of the rare warm days last February. Running, both of us, because we needed outlet and release and because we could say anything we wanted to one another. Fighting the wind, feeling the sun, saying the truest things we knew. We had a lot of new thoughts that didn't have any place yet. I was reading about Jacob then, like I am today. That same story that I cannot forget. I read it and it changed my perspective on faith, my perspective on God, made me want to be a little more bold, to fight a little harder, even if it hurt. Made me realize how unwilling I was to fight, and how afraid I was of God.

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.

Those were the days when we would solace ourselves with the fact that we were struggling. "Are you wrestling?" We would ask eachother. And we were content just to know we were discontent. That was a hard February. Like this one. And now I am standing on the other side of so many changes and emotions and delusions and rough truths and am still provoked the same way. I am still asking the same questions.

Jacob wrestled with God and he looked God in the face, but he walked away limping, with an injury he would never forget. We cannot hold onto God without His glory burning our fingers a little and usually we can't look Him in the eye without death. What does it mean to hold onto God? to wrestle until dawn? is that why my steps today are marked by pain? am I limping?

It seems strange what a year can contain, but stranger still what a person can contain. I have been catching glimpses of my own face--and that is frightening enough--but I have also begun to see the faces of others, a little more clearly. And I am realizing that I am surrounded by people who I've been passing off as shallow or naieve who are wrestling perhaps more than I ever have in my life, and still getting dressed and writing papers and smiling over their cafeteria coffee. I am getting suspcious of the way we all interact and live, now that I know what complicated pain some people are hiding with all of their routine. They bear it so calmly, spread their faces so placidly, walk so purposefully. And I am doing the same thing. Looking at them levelly, speaking sanely, only letting it out a little in drivels of cynicism.

I know all the lies, I've been taught well, and I would tell you that I'm glad our heads have walls. You don't want to know what I am thinking during poetry class, or behind the conversation about soup over lunch. The mind can wander a million places and hurt can stay disguised and perhaps never be dealt with. But not much changes even in a year where everything changes, because I am still limping, from the wounds I got last winter. And I think I'm holding on a little tighter because of them, and getting destroyed a little more.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

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