It’s been an emotional week. Last Wednesday we had to take Isaiah to the Emergency Room for what turned out to be a secondary infection in his lungs thanks to his reactive airways. He’s completely fine and it wasn’t even all that frightening at the time. His oxygen saturation levels were too low (88) when we went to the doctor that afternoon so they sent us to the ER for some basic breathing treatments and chest x-rays. His saturation level came up a little after the treatment and they decided it was safe for us to come home and ride it out without being admitted overnight. He’s been on steroids for 5 days now and has improved considerably.
It was all said and done within about 3 hours and we all enjoyed our first night without multiple wake-up calls for inhalers & medication re-ups in over a month. Three cheers for steroids. But the next morning left me feeling emotional and raw. I was near tears most of the day and I found myself holding Isaiah tighter and longer than usual. Then there was the kindergarten open house that night, which we’ve already discussed but writing about the open house brought some more tears on Friday afternoon and left me feeling lachrymose on into Saturday.
Sunday morning on our way home from church we saw a huge crowd of Seahawks fans, all decked out in their crazy garb, faces painted, running down 15th Avenue with their flags flying out behind them. The boys and I watched and waved and honked our horn with all of the other cars and just like that I was crying again. I’m not even a football fan. I was excited for the Superbowl and the Seahawks because I’m a Seattle-ite and they’re our team and who wasn’t swept up in the eager anticipation for the big game up here? I mean, really, you’d have to live in a hole not to have felt the energy and excitement in the city yesterday. But… I’m not sure I needed to cry about it!
After church I was home alone with the boys, still feeling buoyant and high on the Seahawk spirit, when I heard the news about Phillip Seymour Hoffman and that somehow, strangely enough, made me feel more bereft than all the rest. To think of a man, any man, not just one as famous and beloved as he, dying alone with a needle in his arm felt suddenly more sad than I could bear.
I told Jason later that I felt like I was hovering all week in a thin place, so to speak. According to Celtic tradition, a thin place is when Heaven & Earth feel closer together. As Eric Weiner put it in his New York Times travel article a couple years ago, it’s…
…where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent.
Sitting with Isaiah in the ER, feeling grateful that his condition wasn’t more serious while hearing the sounds of other patients whose conditions were; walking the hallways of a school that represents a small, albeit painful, severing for me; feeling united with others in the excitement of a sporting event and hearing the sad news of a death, however far removed; all have the potential to be thin and I felt awash in it.
In My Bright Abyss Christian Wiman writes that maybe God comes to us in those ways…
…only because we have failed to perceive him in the crying child, in the nail driven cleanly into the wood, in the ordinary dawn sun that merely to see clearly is sufficient prayer and praise.
He goes on to say that,
“…for all the intensity of our meditative moments, for all the necessity of “mystical” experiences that can never quite be translated into the terms of ordinary life, until our faith is rooted in and inextricable from our daily reality, those moments and experiences are as likely to wreck as to rescue us, because we cannot live up to them: they indict the mildness with which we drift through our days.”
Really I think the events of the week just made me feel more alive somehow. I was pulled, just for a SECOND, out of the monotony of going to and from preschool and the grocery store and swim lessons; of making meals and cleaning up meals; of writing and reading and watching Parenthood and Downton Abbey. All of those things are good and meaningful in their own way. But the thin spaces I noticed this last week indict me; they indict the insipidness and unseeing-ness with which I usually walk through my life. If things like the Seahawks and a celebrity I don’t even know make me feel like God is somehow closer than usual, maybe I’ve fallen asleep in my own life? Maybe I’ve been walking around with my eyes only half-open. This is not to say that God is not in those places. God is absolutely in the sports fans and in our collective grief over Phillip Seymour Hoffman. We feel God keenly whenever our emotions swell within us. But, as I’m constantly telling my boys, God is in all things and through all things, within and without, above and below. Would that I might wake up and actually see it.