Friday, March 26, 2010

Fear of What Didn't Happen

Last night we avoided a serious catastrophe.

Story starts yesterday afternoon. A car crash down the road leaves the power out all afternoon. I'm at work, so all I get is a call from my mom about the lack of electricity. No problem- I plan on stopping by the store to pick up bottled water just in case the power is out for a long time.

I pick up the goods and head to play practice at church. We're using bits of Jesus Christ Superstar for Palm Sunday, and it was the full musical rehearsal. Afterward I debate about going to gay coffee night. I was an hour late for it, and I decide to just head home as the sky's looking nasty, and I felt like relaxing after work. I sing out to a mixed CD (delightfully titled "Incredibly Gay, Volume 1") all the way home.

I arrive home to a dark house. The power's still out. Ten minutes after I get home, though, the power clicks back on. I help my mom reset the clocks in the house when we hear strange noises from the utility room.

I'd never heard those noises before. They sounded almost like gurgling. Shortly thereafter we both smell smoke. We go into the utility room nearby and cough as smoke starts to fill the room. We look around trying to find the source, then I open the back door to clear out some smoke so we can find the source (yes, I know that could have potentially exacerbated it, but without finding a source we would've been in worse trouble).

When the power had come back on, it surged. Because it was chilly, the furnace clicked on at the exact same time. Guess what caught on fire?

Yep. The wiring in the furnace overloaded and started on fire. We pulled off the cover for the furnace after seeing smoke coming from the vent to reveal a flame. After a split second of hesitation ("say now, that's not supposed to be on fire") my mom grabs the fire extinguisher and puts out the flame and flips off the circuit breaker. We hastily call the fire department to make sure that we're safe for the night.

Everything's fine- we all spent the night incredibly nervous that maybe, just maybe, a fire was smoldering unseen. The smell of burnt plastic would rouse me from sleep just to instill a brief second of fear, forcing me to go and investigate, just in case.

After the fire was out, I realized how good it was that I hadn't gone out after play practice. Had I not been in the vicinity of the utility room, how long might it have been before my mom smelled the smoke? Would it have gotten into the insulation or the wood before she noticed? Would it have ended a lot worse?

Heaven knows. I'm glad it didn't end up worse, but there's that weird fear of what didn't happen.

Normally we always worry about what happened. We wish that we would've done it differently or go back and use the knowledge we have now instead of the limited perspective of the past.

This is different. By chance or providence (I know not which) we caught it before it got out of hand. Given that it probably would've happened regardless, we had the best possible outcome.

Yet there's this odd fear of what didn't happen. It's not like the fear that I had last night of the possibility of a smoldering flame hidden deep in the house's wiring; it's a fear of what bad things could have happened had I acted differently.

Normally in these situations we launch straight into God's providence, God's blessing. I'm grateful, of course. I'm glad that this was the worst that happened last night; still, I have a sense of fear for an outcome that didn't happen.

I'm not how much I can explain it. Perhaps the fear is the flip side to the relief I feel. I know how bad it could have ended last night, so then I feel great relief that it didn't. Without even knowing it, I made a choice that helped prevent a catastrophe.

I have no clue as to how this could relate to the holy and fearful events of Holy Week. Good Friday was definitely the worst that could happen for the disciples; there wasn't a "whew, that was close!" moment. Jesus was really condemned, mocked, and nailed to a cross. He died. The disciples ran off and one even betrayed Jesus. No catastrophe was prevented there. No one really saw the Resurrection coming.

In all those horrible, cruel, evil choices made 2000 years ago by the religious establishment and the political hierarchy, was an even worse outcome for humanity avoided? Did Judas, did Pilate, did Caiaphas really understand the wheels they set in motion? Did they unknowingly make choices that averted an even greater catastrophe?

Not just a catastrophe of political or religious power; I mean a cosmic, universal catastrophe. These men thought that the nation was headed for disaster if this heretic/rebel was allowed to continue; however, what would have happened had Jesus not been condemned and executed?

I don't know.

May this upcoming week so full of pain and suffering strengthen you. May the remembrance of Christ's passion and death and resurrection fill your heart with grace and light and love.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Edible Emotions

This last week was particularly stressful and upsetting. I'm sure my hormones were out of whack, but events in multiple parts of my life made last week an unhappy one.

By Wednesday of last week I broke my Lenten abstinence from chocolate. Those Oreo cookies were calling to me, promising sweet relief from the stress and pain. After devouring them with the angriest face I could muster, I noted that guilt didn't seem to be raising its ugly head. A little shocked, I assumed that eventually I would feel downright horrible for eating chocolate during Lent. I'm not "hardcore" like the Eastern Orthodox who abstain from a lot more during Great Lent; yet I caved in to chocolate.

I had expected at least some kind of inner turmoil from eating the forbidden sweets. Nope. Could it have been anger and stress that granted me an indulgence? Possibly.

The episode certainly led me to realize just how comforting food is. I knew that when I was stressed I would crave certain foods: things fried, things sweet, things full of carbohydrates. After eating them, though, I noticed that I wasn't feeling relief or happiness or sorrowful delight. I just felt angry with a few crumbs of Oreo in my mustache.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Somewhere that's green...

I returned from a long weekend in Texas to visit an important friend for the first time. We'd been talking on the phone for a long time, but finally meeting him in the flesh was great.

Leaving Fort Worth yesterday was incredibly difficult. I wanted nothing more than to be with him one more minute, one more hour, one more day. He made me feel wonderful, and I hope I did the same for him.

I feel a pit in my heart now that I'm away from him. He was very deliberate in not wanting me to feel tied down to him or to feel any obligation toward him, and I'm not sure how to handle that.

I opened myself to him, feeling comfortable enough to cry in front of him. Normally I try to hide my emotions away so that others aren't burdened by my emotions and so that I'm not the "focus". He asked how I was feeling, and I told him instead of replying, "I'm OK" or "Fine" as I usually do when I'm feeling upset but don't want to reveal my heart.

I'm not sure what to do right now. I know that for the next week or so I will be second-guessing myself, overanalyzing everything and fretting about the future, but I want him to know how much he means to me and how much I want to nurture our relationship without being a burden. I don't know if he cried after I left or if he's feeling anything similar, and I don't have the right to pry overmuch.

Right now I'm getting ready for work to get back to life as it was before I left, knowing that my life's changed for the better no matter what happens.

Peace, friends.