To quote a hero, “It’s been a bit of a day.”
I started today with a frustrating doctor’s appointment, rolled into a long day of work, noted a series of continued harassment from the friends of the woman (she’s at most three years younger than me; I resist the urge to call her a girl, out of both trivial sexism and the clarity that regardless of her circumstances, she’s an adult who is responsible for her actions and their consequences) who’s taken an interest in attacking me as the latest in a long line of internet altercations on her part, and the cherry on top is I got love-tapped by a van full of methodists; I was picking up a package from the UPS guy when the big blue van pulled around slowly and hip-checked me, knocking me to the ground. I’m eighty percent sure the driver yelled “Shit, I hit the cripple!” as she leapt from her vehicle to make sure I was okay.
The good news of the day: 1) I guess my neighbors know me well enough to make me THE cripple in my complex; I demand a sash; 2) I signed the paperwork for the play festival in CA that’s doing my new play, “Ableist Bull Caca (ABC)” in December; 3) I’m fine, but for a bruise on my left hip that’s Gorbachevian in its shape; 4) Virginia Wesleyan University will be performing my 15(!)-year-old play, “Forward Motion,” in an evening of freshman shorts this winter. That brings this full circle. We’ll get there in a minute.
I don’t just have good days or bad days these days; I have quiet days and loud ones. There are the ones without event and the ones in which everything happens. It’s either a couple of tumbleweeds and a deep sigh or sixty pages of War and Peace, but it’s never in-between.
The fulcrum of everything returns to January 9, the night before I lost my leg. That’s the big Before and After in my life, and I suppose it will be for some time to come. The chaplain at Penn Presby who took a liking to me (I think–I definitely took a liking to her) was a woman named Dasha, who listened better than anyone I’ve ever met.
That first night we talked, she sat with me and prayed. There was more than a little comfortable silence. They had me on the good drugs, so I was looser of tongue than usual, which is saying something. And so I opened my mouth and wanted to talk about Job and Lot, and how the Old Testament God really had no qualms about being a jerkface. I lobbed a Shalom Auslander quote I love–I’m not sure if it’s from Beware of God or Foreskin’s Lament:
If you took the Old Testament, dumped it in a word processor, and did a find/change substitute for ‘God’ with ‘Fred’ and read it aloud, you’d say ‘This Fred is screwed up. Fred is a profoundly damaged person. Fred is not someone I want to be around.’
She laughed. “So what changed God?”
I’m not sure. I’m still not sure God changed. My friends who are rabbis meet this idea with an explanation that Christians assume they’ve got a horizontal morality (do good works in fellowship WITH God) against an Old Testament idea of vertical morality (do good works because God is angered by our sins, and wants us to ask forgiveness). As a former (very very lapsed) jew myself, I have quibbles with the binary nature of this, as my faith experiences at all levels of judaism didn’t seem marked by fears of an angry God (and we know how I feel about choices made out of fear).
I do know that the Old Testament, even amidst its depictions of divine rage and human suffering, made persistent promises of better days to come for Israel and all of us. And Jesus fulfilled that promise and changed the world. I understand that. I still walk with the anger of what happened to me, how to go forward, and how to live into it without confusion. God doesn’t cause suffering, as I’ve said before, but he allows us to find lessons in it. I often wish it didn’t hurt so bad, even as I remember to trust.
And so that’s my day. Reconciling two different perspectives across a kairos moment of God between the OT and NT, and my own moment therein.
Oh–that bit about “Forward Motion”–it’s a play I wrote in 2001-2002, that was purchased for publication by Playscripts in 2006. Its scripts and productions pretty much pay my student loan, and it was the moment I went from a guy who writes to a writer, by Stephen King (“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”).
And while I patterned the female lead after several women in my life, the woman in question who’s currently targeting me was one of three girls who workshopped that play in the summer camp I counseled and taught. Which goes to show you: 19-year-olds probably shouldn’t teach 16-year-olds, and every connection we make on this planet has both destruction and lessons in it, if we work the thread enough. I don’t wish to have anything to do with her, but if not for passing that script around all those years ago, I may not have developed the guts to submit it for publication, which set off a whole bunch of bright moments in my life.
OT to NT. Suffering to Understanding. At least I think that’s so.