I think it started the day I hurt my knee.
I wasn’t doing anything to deserve injury. I was just coming around the corner to go upstairs after a voice lesson when my left knee popped and went out from under me. For six weeks, doctor and PT notwithstanding, it hasn’t been right. In combination with an ankle weak after an early-summer sprain, I am not in good physical shape. My weight is creeping back upward because I can’t exercise properly, my back is tight, and in general, it’s an unpleasant taste of the waning years of life, all the more disconcerting because I didn’t expect it to start this early. I’m only 38, for crying out loud.
My new vulnerability casts a different tint on the world. There’s so much that’s beautiful about life and love and relationship, but there’s so much ugliness, too. As I try to sort through the bile being spewed in the political process, to separate the genuine from the rhetoric and the rhetoric from the slant imposed by whoever’s telling me about it, the only rational conclusion I can draw is that there’s no one truly worthy in the whole process. And that makes me wonder: What if our government collapses under the weight of its own debt, lack of integrity, and dearth of political will to change? What if the environmental scenarios are right? What if all the saving my husband and I do, what if all the plans we are laying so carefully for our future and that of our children, come to nothing because of forces wholly outside our control?
I try to insert reason into the voice of gloom. Doomsday scenarios have been around as long as there have been people to preach them, after all, and we’re all still here, limping along as best we can. And I’m always fussing about how none of that other stuff is really important, anyway, that what really matters is family and relationship, and living in love. If one day the entire world falls apart, we have a big back yard to grow vegetables in. We’re not going to die. But that’s not much comfort.
This morning, I took my exercise walk (because I can’t run on my knee) in the dark. The sky was spangled silver, a sight that never, ever fails to insert a sliver of awe into my outlook. And as I walked, my face turned upward, checking the ground every few seconds to keep from injuring myself further, some half-forgotten insight, heard who knows when, came to mind: that human beings were made to look up, not to get our sights stuck on the things of earth, because let’s face it, at any given moment, life on earth is only a hairs breadth away from disaster. If we fix our joy and fulfillment on anything of earth, we’ll spend our whole life in fear of losing it.
I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
From whence shall come my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.