The weight of now, but not yet  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,

This past week I felt as if a weight had glommed onto my soul. It grew as news trickled in, as I learned of disappointments and frustrations that are far greater weights to those who actually carry them. There is no helplessness greater than wishing I could bring relief, provide a solution to someone I hold dear, but knowing that I cannot.


A friend’s work ended last October, and now struggles to find a job sufficient to support a family while companies cut their payrolls. Another friend has been accepted into a graduate program for which they are wonderfully gifted only to find that funding (outside of crippling loans) is virtually nonexistent, so now wonders what to do next. Another feels stuck in a job that doesn’t quite fit, in a city that isn’t really home, in a place where busyness has conspired to keep close friendships at bay. Another feels drained by chronic pain, and medications that sap strength for part of each week. Another feels hurt when her husband uses cutting humor against her, and “playfully” mocks the sickness she endures with her third pregnancy. Another often feels overwhelmed, as a single, trying to make a difficult transition as part of being faithful in their calling.


Last night before bed I read this poem by Vassar Miller:


Thorn in the Flesh


Light comes again

but sometimes

falls at crooked angles.


Now there is song,

but sometimes

the silence conducts it.


My days are full

but sometimes

only of your absence.


I have been healed,

but sometimes

still the whole heart hobbles.


I have hope, but sometimes find the waiting too painful. Especially when I wish I could wish away the difficulties and disappointments, but only add to them with my frustration. “I am a believer,” Bono said. “It’s hard to be a believer.” That is the reality—fully hopeful and fully saddened—of living in this in-between time, between the coming of God’s kingdom and its consummation. Nothing matters except Christ’s kingdom, and because of Christ’s kingdom, everything matters.


Source: If I Had Wheels or Love, collected poems of Vassar Miller (Dallas, TX: Southern Methodist University Press; 1991) p. 131.

This entry was posted at Monday, March 30, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Hi Denis! This is the first time I've read your blog. Thank you for the post today. I've been feeling a similar way lately. There is so much junk that people I know need to deal with, it makes my junk not seem so bad. I love and miss you and Margie!
PS Sorry if this posted twice. I accidentally pressed the wrong button!

March 31, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Could you explain what you mean in your last sentence. "Nothing matters except Christ's kingdom, and because of Christ's kingdom everything matters." I am so intrigued!

January 18, 2011 at 3:38 PM

I am glad to explain what I mean.

The Christian message is that God's good creation has been broken by the fall, and that God has entered human history in Christ to provide the solution. Christ came proclaiming that he is king, and that his kingdom had come and would be fully consummated when he returns. That good news is the heart of reality and history, it is the essence of all truth, so that nothing really matters except that.

And because of that reality, the reality of the incarnation and redemption, we can know that God has not given up on his creation. He has not turned away because it is broken, but has chosen to restore it, heal it--and we have hints of that redemption now and someday that will be realized totally when Christ's kingdom is brought to fulfillment. So because of Christ's kingdom, every detail of life, reality and creation matter.

In a few minutes I am going to eat dinner with friends. Is food significant and hospitality meaningful? The thinkers of the East (Hinduism and Buddhism) say No: such things are an illusion. The thinkers of the West also say No: they are simply neuro-chemical chemical reactions in an impersonal universe.

The existence of Christ's Kingdom says Yes, Yes, Yes. God the creator is redeeming his world, and that means all of life is significant, for God's glory.

Make sense?

January 18, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Sidebar comment on the poem: in 1976, Roger Stephens gave a poetry reading (collected in his book "Life as a Werewolf") and offered a poem by a young girl, Rosemary Tonks, that contained the last two stanzas of the poem. It is interesting that in 1996 another women prepended the two stanzas. Memory is a tricky thing; I suspect this is an innocent conflation of a very powerful sentiment.

April 18, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Thanks for your sidebar. I was unaware of this history, and find your suggestion of how/why it unfolded to be reasonable, to say the least. A deeply human experience.

April 18, 2013 at 11:40 AM

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