The kids left for school, and the house went quiet. I had twenty-five minutes till I needed to leave for a meeting. I knew better than to sit down with my laptop or I would lose track of time, so I did house chores instead. (My minutes are firmly leashed when I clean!) We’d been dancing to Jack Johnson this morning and the iPad sat on the counter, so I tapped the next artist—Lisa Hannigan—and listened while I unloaded the dishwasher. (If you like music that makes you feel as if you’re in a watercolor painting, check her out at http://lisahannigan.ie/music/.)
Her voice layered over two lines of violin, one deep and mournful, the other lilting, playful: I don’t know if you speak any other languages than your own… if you love the ground beneath you… if you write letters or panic on the phone… if you can swim or if the sea has any draw for you… if you can dance, if the thought ever occurred to you…
The lines made me think of something I’d scribbled late one night after my husband had fallen asleep. I found the scrap of paper on the floor next to my bed, nearly buried by a stack of books.
When I look at Dave’s face, somewhere is the child I never knew, the 18 year-old I fell in love with, as well as the old man he will become if he experiences the time that will turn him into one. His 43-year old face is all of these at once.
I know much about this man. He speaks no other languages, though he jokes about learning Swahili. He is a wanderer at heart, with no ties to a particular piece of earth, yet, with a fear of heights, he does like the ground solid beneath his feet. He’s good on the phone—far, far better than I—and is serviceable with the written word but would rather not.
I can answer all of Hannigan’s wonderings about my husband.
Yet I still learn about him—when he shares a memory I was not a part of or even tells his perspective on something we encountered together. Sometimes I learn about him as he learns about himself.
I love this.
I love this not just about my husband but about all the ones God’s given me to be, in one sense, “mine.” Each one is such a complex being, with a past and present that has shaped and is shaping them, and they will not stay stagnant. So much to continually learn!
My mind has to stretch to apply this kind of thinking to every single person on earth, each a unique creation shaped in the image of God, with a personality and character that changes and adapts through time and experience.
So as I learn about people, with all their stories and beings, am I learning bits about God? Does each new story provide a sliver of insight into a Being so vast that He should be completely unknowable?
This makes me think of the children’s story about the blind mice who encounter an elephant. One explores only the tusk and decides this new creature is shaped like a spear. Another feels only the tail and reports it is like a rope. Another runs up and down a leg and says it is like a column. But only the last mouse, who runs up and down and all around on the elephant, can give an accurate picture of the whole.
I cannot do this with God. I am unable to comprehend a Creator so very, very BIG, so very, very unlike me!
He knew that. We have the Word Incarnate: Christ, God in the flesh. He was sent to reveal the heart of God. Yet even this is baffling. If I cannot even know my husband or my children fully, then even a flesh-encompassed God is beyond my ken.
When I was a teenager, I used to wonder what on earth I would do for eternity. With a view of heaven that was limited to standing around singing, eternity stretched looong.
Now I have a feeling that each and every moment will be full of amazing discoveries about God.
And they will never, never run out.