Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Journal as Reminder and Clarifier

Memories of God #10

I was just reading my journal from my last year of college. That was the '86-'87 academic year.

Wow. I was in a lot of pain. I was regretting a lot. I was graduating with a degree in theater and wishing I'd been a commercial art major. I was in something like love, but feeling shameful and damned about it. I came across an entry where I wished I weren't alive. I said I didn't want to commit suicide, but it would be okay if I just ceased to exist, that it would save everyone a lot of trouble.

During this period, I tried to keep a journal as if I were writing to God. It was a short-lived experiment. I found writing to an omniscient being to be redundant, and so many of my entries are full of "O Father, you heard that conversation." Which, of course, means little to me more than two decades later. Thankfully, I let that experiment go pretty quickly.

But there's the thing. In the middle of regret and not a little despair, I was still talking to God, looking so hard for God's leading. True, it was that early-twenties angst-ridden sort of searching, the kind that immobilizes and becomes addictive for it's sweet agony, but it was still an earnest seeking.

I thought I would put in a few paragraphs from that time, but they're complicated, too complicated for the time I have to explicate. There are also names and places that are not entirely mine to publish on the web.

But, well, take for instance this Lutheran Student Movement regional retreat I attended. There was someone there doing guided meditations. I had a powerful experience with one of the exercises, one that pulled me back, if only a little, from the brink. Pulled back just a little is enough to save a life.

I'm being vague tonight. That's sometimes required to protect people who didn't sign up to be written about, and to obscure some of my own embarrassment about those years. I write tonight to remember that God was there, in this time that I felt like I was taking up more than my share of space on the planet, when I wanted to disappear. At a retreat, God sent some people who were God's hands and voice to pull me back from an edge. How will I ever be grateful enough?

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