June 13, 2019

The morning glories have just begun blooming, and every day, it’s been 100 degrees. So every morning, I go outside and lavish them with a bucket of water, praying they will survive. “Before you know what kindness really is,” writes Naomi Shihab Nye, “you must lose things, / feel the future dissolve in a moment / like salt in a weakened broth.” What I am only beginning to understand: sometimes, I am that weakened broth, and sometimes, the future—scattered in the expanse of my failings—dissolves within me. Other times, I am the salt, poured out as the offering I never wanted to be. Other times still, I am both, the way keeping flowers alive can seem like the only tangible way to ensure that something good stays awake in the world. The connectivity of it all unravels me. How it’s all intermingled, like dye in the water—anything I plunge into it is stained, which means everything Christ pulls out of it has the power to be washed clean. And yet, “how desolate the landscape can be / between the regions of kindness,” writes Nye. How desolate the landscape can be between the part of me that, mere weeks ago, stood sweating on a hillside, hacking a bush out of the ground with the back of a hammer—pulling and twisting and yanking and swearing until the roots of it split and came free in my hands—and the part of me that now stands on that same hillside, each sweltering and desperate morning, and prays over a patch of flowers, Live. Please live. How I want to be able to say more of myself than, I did not kill anything today. When the woman poured perfume on Jesus’s feet and wiped them clean with her tears and with her hair, He said, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.” I think I am beginning to understand what He meant: that pouring ourselves upon Him is the only way to bridge the wasteland between the regions of kindness—the desolation that spans the distance between forgiving and being forgiven.

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