My favorite word is ‘jaded.’ I love the odd flowiness of it and its root reference to a beautiful stone. But its meaning is what really gets me. Webster defines it ‘as made dull, apathetic, or cynical by experience.’ This seems like such an apt description of myself and many others. We are thoughtlessly wasteful of the joy and wonder of the world. Even if we are aware, we are often only viewing it in reference to what it has to say about us, who we are and how we are seen. We fear the sacrifice and suffering which might end this self-centered apathy and make us humble beggars seeking a wonder we do not own. Instead, in the midst of the abrading banality of life we lose vision, we numb ourselves, and we fall asleep.
During the summer months, I am jaded. The oppressive Texas heat shuts me inside both my house and myself. I find little joy in suffering through 105 degree days. If I have to walk or work anywhere outside during the summer months, my clothes turn into wet, salty rags.
Several summers ago, I was still at Texas A&M taking the last few classes I needed before I could graduate. The whole summer I walked to all my classes. This lead to the ruining of a few shirts after dreaded 20+ minute walks across A&M’s vast campus. The summer was full of heat, humidity, and horrible cricket infestations. Nature was a dank, fecund destroyer, but there was one day from the summer that I will always remember.
It was early in the afternoon in the middle of July. I was walking back from my History of 19th Century England class where I would laugh at every other sentence my sarcastic, thickly accented British teacher would utter. As I traversed across a lonely part of the large campus hurrying to escape the numbing of another oppressively hot day, rain came pouring down on me from a sun soaked sky. I stopped, stunned… awake. I held my breath wondering at the intercession of rain. A moment passed in the brief shower before I found cover underneath a gazebo to wait for it to stop. After walking home and sitting down, I wrote the following:
The grey light sheds raindrops onto the motions of my weightless body. Falling drops tinge me with their bombardment and the sensuous smell of rain emanates a taste of life. The reigning clouds lift me out of the heavy weight of a Texas summer sun. The passing rain is not more than a breeze and a grey shadow, but swift, this life is poured into the world.
There are stories about blind men who can see the world through the echoes of pattering rainfall. The rain’s knocking on the sides of the world opens the eyes of their minds. Are we not blind souls unawake until we hear and feel a knocking on the hard surfaces of the world? Are the poignant passing of pain and bitter tastes of life a rainfall into our world? Are true moments of sorrow and joy, the depths of human experience that mingle together in the heart of the universe, not the heavy beating of a life-giving rain?
Now I sit sedately in my comforted chair and would pass this world away, but a merciful God acts sorrow and joy into my heart with cauterizing nails to awaken me to the cloud of His presence.
The thunder roams off in the distance admitting that it too is a beggar at His feet.