A to Z Blogging Challenge · Faith · family

Questions

I have a thousand questions.

Maybe more.

I think I’ve always been this way, too. I have two distinct memories of my mother expressing her frustration to me regarding all my questions.

One was when she was pregnant with my youngest brother and a button flew off her housecoat. I don’t remember the actual question I asked, but I do remember her response — “It’s because of the baby!” I suppose I should I have known that but I didn’t. Maybe I had already asked her 653 questions about her growing belly or maybe she had already tried to tell me 653 times about this new member of the family who would be arriving soon. In any event, it all became real when the button flew off her housecoat.

A few weeks after the housecoat fiasco

The second time was several years later. On the kitchen counter I had found this interesting looking plastic circle thing. I could spin it and I could see that there were little pills inside. My mother saw me playing with it and snatched it away.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s mine,” she said.

“But what is it?” I persisted.

“It’s so I won’t have any more babies,” she snapped, and she sounded so angry at me and all my questions that I learned to keep most of them to myself. I had a lot more questions about that plastic circular pill dispenser — but those questions wouldn’t be answered for many years.

But questions — I love questions.

I started gathering all the questions in the Bible into my journals.

Reducing a story to questions brings out a poignancy we might miss otherwise. Take these four questions, all asked by Isaac in the same chapter:

  • Who are you, my son?
  • How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?
  • Are you really my son Esau?
  • Who are you?

I’m always working through a section of the Old Testament and a section of the New Testament concurrently — one OT question per day and one NT question per day. The same same few days when I was writing Isaac’s questions, I journaled these questions asked by Jesus in the book of Matthew:

  • Who do people say that the Son of Man is?
  • But who do you say that I am?

The very first question in the book of John is “Who are you?”

So many questions about identity!

When I was reading Howard Thurman’s books and books about Howard Thurman, I found that he had three questions he liked to ask young people. I scribbled them down on a post-it note that I keep handy

  • Who are you? Who are you really? (identity)
  • What are you for? Or, what do you want? (purpose)
  • How will you get it? (means)

Sometimes, in yoga, when I’m trying to relax into long pose, I ponder those questions.

I ask God those questions, too — sometimes about Him, more often about me. Who am I? Who am I really?

God hasn’t snapped at me yet.


Things I like: questions.

Things I don’t like: When people look at me like I just asked the stupidest question on the face of the earth.

Life · Uncategorized

The Clothesline

… one may find it extremely helpful to discover a clothesline on which all of one’s feelings and thoughts and desires may be placed.

Howard Thurman, The Creative Encounter

I woke up feeling irritable. Then, my cinnamon rolls didn’t turn out (I think I left out an ingredient). My pizza was cold when I got around to eating it. And now, it’s bedtime and I haven’t written anything. Humbug.

I found myself thinking about Howard Thurman’s clothesline.

Clotheslines have happy memories for me. My mother would dry the sheets on the clothesline up by the chicken coop. In the spring and summer, the sheets smelled like mown grass. In the fall, they carried the crisp fresh smell of autumn. When Bud and I bought our first house, I asked for — and got — a clothesline that stretched from the house to the garage. At our next house, he installed a shed-to-tree line with a pulley.

The idea of hanging thoughts on a clothesline appealed to me. Thurman was talking about putting our negative thoughts there to allow them to “float away” and then replace them with higher thoughts.

Honestly, I think I need two clotheslines.

The first would be for those thoughts I need to put aside. They are easy to identify. They have to do with cinnamon rolls with forgotten ingredients, cold pizza, parenting challenges, and disharmonies in my life.

The second clothesline is the better one. I have quotes I’ve copied from books I’m reading, scriptures I’m working on memorizing, and little notes people have sent or given to encourage me. What if I make a little clothesline — a quoteline — of those encouragements? I could stretch a length of twine somewhere, write quotes on little slips of paper, clip them to the twine, and then reread them often.

After a year like 2020, I could do with regular doses of encouragement. Could you?