At the risk of wearing out my welcome
At the risk of self-discovery
I’ll take every moment
And every minute that you give me
~ from “Every Minute” by Sara Groves
Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to me…” (John 20:17 NASB)
I think I have largely avoided
Your error with Psyche —
How in delusion about love
You tried to mold her
And weld her to yourself
Or at least I am not too slow
To recognize it when I’m doing it
As for your other anguishes,
Bitter longings, spiritual bewilderments,
They resonate — I understand them well.
But today I am thinking about Bardia.
Captain of the troops, married,
Faithfully serving you, his queen;
He said it were a pity you were not a man.
How hungry and thirsty you were
Not so much for his good advice and service
(Although of course you valued those)
But for the warmth and steadfast attention
Of his solid presence.
Campaign after campaign, or at home with
Kingdom concerns piled one on another,
Late nights, keeping him with you.
Until you visited his widow
And she informed you what a shell
You had made of him — what dregs
You sent home to her each day.
She basically said you’d killed him.
And I wonder whether I, too,
Am in danger of devouring those I love —
Whether my hunger and thirst could be so great,
So criminally insatiable —
Whether, taking every moment, every minute given,
I might wring it raw, bleed it dry, and still
Whether I might hear, not
“Nothing you do, say, think, or feel
About me or about anything else
Will change my availability and love for you,”
But “Stop clinging to me.”
One of my favorite books is C. S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces. It is full of anguish and bewilderment about relationships and spiritual things, rooted in painful past and present experience. It’s raw. It’s not an easy book, and I’m not always sure that the second part really resolves things quite well. But it’s resonant, and rich, and cathartic.
Relationships of all kinds carry the risk of anguish and bewilderment and pain. Part of the Fall, besides a fragmentation of self and of our relationship with God, is the fragmentation of our relationships. It is hard to see eye to eye, to understand and respect one another, to love without fear, to dance around boundaries. Sometimes one’s interest waxes or the other’s wanes, so that the friendship is not always in balance. Sometimes it is hard to ask for what we want and need. It is hard, sometimes, to know when to push and when to step back. It is hard, sometimes, to see the consequences of our words and deeds for those we are in relationship with. It is hard, sometimes, to be truly ourselves — and to let our friends be truly themselves.
Today my thoughts coalesced around three things: The beautifully hopeful and wistful and forthright song by Sara Groves, “Every Minute.” The painful and curious words of Jesus to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection. And the part of Till We Have Faces that deals with the protagonist, Orual, and her chief advisor and captain, Bardia. This poem is the coalescence.