So the kidlets and I were in Target this morning, racing to get an errand done between church services.
The day was a big day at our congregation, and in my own little world. We’d scheduled a meeting after each service to decide whether the church supported the pursuit of a “congregational renewal” grant. Pastor Lori Hope and I flip out about All Things Theological, and this grant would allow me to be called as a 1/4 time pastor to help Pastor Lori and St. Mark’s create a worship community in which theological education would be the blood that pumps through all elements of its vision and action.
Naturally (and understandably), my husband was out of town.
Naturally (and not so understandably), Else and Karl and I got to St. Mark’s a few minutes late for the beginning of the meeting after the first Sunday service.
Naturally, I used the time between the end of that meeting and the beginning of the next service to try and be all places at all times and dash to Target to pick up a need.
Naturally, Karl looked suddenly really, really tough as we got him out of the van.
Unnaturally, I had luck when the aisle we were in was right next to the container aisle.
I had a split second to decide whether I would end up purchasing by default a bucket with pastel hearts or rainbow stripes.
I opted for the rainbow stripes.
And, in case one is ever desperate to get checked out quickly, simply holding a used plastic box with a very ill looking child clears out a check-out lane like no other.
That bucket worked faster than Moses’ staff.
Poor, sweet Karl.
So naturally I couldn’t get back for the second meeting, naturally I couldn’t reach my mother who was on her way to church, naturally I couldn’t reach anyone at church, and naturally, as I’m calling my father while driving, poor sweet Else is holding our new purchase in front of K, all the while caressing and calming poor sweet Karl as he throws up again, and again, in the back of the van.
Mom is finally reached, and comes over to play with E-girl, and when Karl seems to be zonked enough for me to run to clean out the buckets, I flush the yuck, and naturally, the toilet continues to run.
So noticing this constant sound after I’d crawled back in bed with Karl, I roll my eyes at Mom and whisper a request to her to please jiggle the handle. I warn her that she might need to lift up the back to jostle those doo-hickies back into place.
So she did, loyal E-girl there to help her.
Suddenly I hear two surprised screams, and water, spraying water.
I took a look at Karl, did a quick cost-benefit analysis, and decided that I needed to quietly leap out of bed to see what the trouble was, for I was sure that there was trouble.
There stood Else, dripping wet, surprised and grinning. There stood Mom, dripping wet, surprised and grinning, but her arms were stuck under the tank cover. “I opened it and this hose just popped off, sprayed me and everything in sight, and it only stops if I squeeze the tube, but I can’t get my arms out now because they are stuck under the cover, and so rather than standing there surprised and grinning, would you take the cover off your mother’s arms?”
And so, naturally, there we stood, mother-daughter-granddaughter, belly-laughing and not a clue about what to do to fix the matter, and fully aware that at any moment, poor sweet Karl could throw up again.
And in my sphere, all of these, every last bit of it, is natural.
Right before the Toilet Incident, Mom told me that she still remembers when she was a young girl and it dawned on her that a person could have a broken leg and scarlet fever at the same time. “How is that fair?” she said she remembered thinking. And it raised for her some of her first disturbing questions about God.
It’s true. I know that by no means have I gotten my Big One out of the way, and what’s up with that?
That said, conversely, our family’s neurosurgeon (yes, our family’s, because it’s actually funny that we discovered a couple years back that I have a benign brain tumor. Broken leg and Scarlett Fever, anyone?) is a top-drawer neurosurgeon, and a top-drawer classical guitarist, and he owns a Brazilian restaurant in town.
And what’s up with that?
One of the hardest, perhaps the hardest, pieces about belief in a creator God is the absurdity of it all.
Nothing, in the end, makes sense.
And while I have some ways of thinking through it, sometimes one can only observe the extremes and both laugh and rage against it.
I’ve decided that regardless of whether one believes in a creator God or doesn’t, it’s all still absurd.
The wounding piece is that if you do believe in a creator God, there tends to be some reason to believe that that God intends to be benevolent.
This conviction makes the brain injuries and tumors and vomit in Target and spraying toilets and sleeping boys who wake up only to throw up and little daughters who without asking bring baskets of Q-tips and toothpaste and soap and tissues and chips for Mama to snack on if she gets hungry while she stays at the bedside of the brother seem all the more insulting.
A betrayal, even.
The natural is, in light of a God whom we’d like to think is good, clearly unnatural.
My temptation is to wrap up it all up with an answer, but I have learned from my Jewish mentors that the question itself is holy.
As is the absurdity of throw-up in Target and loud laughter dripping with toilet water.
I assume that the readers of this blog also know something of absurdity.
What do you think?