Yesterday, as I was sitting waiting for class to start, Stegner’s Angel of Repose in my hands, I came across this passage: ” . . . I would like to hear your life as you heard it, coming at you, instead of hearing it as I do, a sober sound of expectations reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred or abandoned, chances lost, defeats accepted, griefs borne. . . . Even while you paid attention to what you must do today and tomorrow, you heard the receding sound of what you had relinquished.” The narrator is speaking of his grandmother, the woman he is researching at the end of his own life.
It seems that the narrator sees his grandmother’s life as a life of disappointments. (Note – I only just started the book, so I’ll have to wait and see how this pans out). I was intrigued by this idea of looking back on life and seeing what didn’t work because when I look back on life – even the most painful things – I see only victories. I look back and see how God has carried me through, even when things did not work out the way I hoped they would.
It’s the looking forward that seems hardest for me, at least at this moment. A lot seems uncertain. The path looks undetermined. The battle appears long and arduous. I have a great deal to look forward to, of course – relationships, good work, great books to read. But life is so much of a struggle sometimes that the idea of panning ahead and anticipating the struggle that is to come, well, today that seems like too much for me.
I think, instead, I’ll revel in the moment, aware of how far the journey has brought me – I’ll live in the Ebenezer of the moment. In I Samuel, the Samuel erects a stone at Ebenezer to commemorate the great victory God gave the Israelites over the Philistines. Samuel says, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” That’s where I am now – in the Ebenezer – confident that I’ll have them in the future, too, but content to gaze back from the place I stand and take hope from what I have been brought through.