Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Who Cares?

Pure moral turpitude. I called in sick. Well, I am sick. Was. Sick of work, sick of arguing with God over things I can't identify. All I know is that to confront him is to be dragged into things I don't want.

Well, at least I care about that. I care about not hurting. I care about not having problems. I don't really care about anything positive, just about things to stay away from because they hurt. Beyond that, I just drift.

Lu talks about dreams in some of her recent Blog entries. "A goal," she quotes, "is a dream with a deadline." I have no deadlines, and avoid them if at all possible. If it gets done, fine. If it doesn't, I'll do it tomorrow, or the next day, or never. Put things off long enough and they don't need to be done. As my friend Rich says, "Never do tomorrow what you can put off until the next day."

Historically, all I've wanted is to be left alone. I've arranged my life around this concept. Interacting with people generally leads only to pain: corporate loneliness, misunderstandings, anger, problems. Simpler to do only those things I can do alone.

Not caring is a great adjunct to that idea. If I can't do it alone, I just don't care. I learned to do this as a child; anything I cared about would, quite likely, be taken away by someone who noticed I cared, and do so just to get to me.

Not caring, however, turns out to be like waves hitting the bottom of a sand sculpture. No matter what you build on top it's subject to sudden collapse. No big deal. If I cared I'd do something else. It's easy to care about sand sculpture because it doesn't hang around to anchor the past. How many creative people have you met who had one good idea and then keep putting it out there, saving every example? Far too many. Sand sculpture is forced to be new every time out because a photograph isn't the sculpture.

So I amble along on my comfortable, familiar route. Downhill. And then encounter God.

It turns out that God isn't just a fairy tale. Nor a belief. He is a person. And he cares. If he didn't care I wouldn't be here, and there are many others who could say the same. The proof of his caring is given in one word: Grace. Go visit for Paula's thoughts on this, and an ongoing discussion.

Naturally, one can't go through life not caring about everything. It does make a difference which side of the road I drive on, and it's important sometimes to say the right things to other people. It'd be like approaching the stove while having no heat sensitivity. I put together a sort of simulated caring, intellectually generated and very labor-intensive.

Equally naturally, God has an opinion on this subject. At first I let him do the caring for me. Maybe that's not such a bad idea, especially because I don't have the filters other people developed. I can't care about everything. Perhaps God can teach me.

I don't really want to learn. I'm far more comfortable just letting events take their course while I keep my head down.

Yet there are things I care about. I do know which side has the butter, and I know from experience that God cares about me, which is a good thing. And so, I've ended up caring about God, to the point where I'll speak up for him at work when people start spouting the same old tired ideas that hold no truth. This isn't like me.

That seems to be a far cry from the kind of caring God wants of me. I look at my current track and extrapolate that into the future, and don't much care for where it leads. Love. Servanthood. Sticking my neck out. Maybe even taking on a dream or two, or a goal. How the hell does a lifetime drifter get ahold of that?

So, there was the eminently natural result: I ran. It's too bad I don't know anyone named Aaron, because I'd have asked God to go find him. He cares. Much easier for you to work with. I don't talk well. But no, God wants me. Rain fell for days and was matched by clouds and rain in my heart. Bleak. No scenery, no spirit, no contact with the Spirit.

An absurd place, yes. A Christian separated from God is about the bleakest thing out there, making the Bonneville salt flats look like Eden. I'm never far from the belief that my life is worthless and without God in my life the long slide backward starts. I couldn't find the way out.

Jack Fox again listened to God and did what I needed: sent me two books. Unannounced. A man named Donald Miller, whose story bears resemblance to mine. The kindness of this gesture made a difference.

So I called in sick and the sun came out. Sunlight! I awoke to just occasional drips of water from the trees. As the sky lightened outside I couldn't believe it, but I've lived here long enough to understand a lightening sky at 0630. No clouds. No rain. I called in and 15 minutes later was on Cougar, my bright yellow mountain bike, heading north into a stiff wind that kicked up whitecaps on the ocean.

it's not an instant cure. Not even a cure, but mountain biking does get me out and make me active amid beauty. I saw a covey of quail, a roadrunner and three coyotes. There was purple nightshade, bright yellow bush poppies and lovely white-and-pink flowering currant. No bunny rabbits. I saw rainbows in the grass, water drops held against the wind sparking in the rising sun. Clouds blew in tatters across the sky as I rode around a big loop through Topanga. There's still beauty. I can still ride.

God and I finally got back onto speaking terms. He mentioned some problems, like my tendency to look for rules or make them up so I don't have to think. I also have a tendency to think my answers are better than anyone else's. Well, they are, but only for me. Everyone else has to find their own. At best, I can an example of how God helps the helpless and three-quarters dead. Age gives me a different viewpoint that causes too much awe in younger people, but it's really just experience. Half my age? You'll get there. Keep your eyes open, and learn to care. That way you won't have to fight for it when you're old and inflexible.

One problem is that I got the idea for this story two weeks ago. I procrastinated. Shouldn't have done that. Lu also mentions something about writer's block being a lack of respect for one's own ideas. That was my problem: asking who'd care about me writing about not caring? But when the Holy Spirit says "Write!" it's not really my job to ask why. I enjoy writing. It's God's job to figure out what it''s good for.

I don't know how this will all fall out. Grace covers the problems. God still cares about me. Maybe that will rub off. Eventually.

God gave me a final treat on that ride. I was tired and out of fuel when I reached the top of Amalfi Drive, so I made the turn in there. I'd gotten hints that I should go farther, and as I made the turn the hint became stronger yet. So, I turned around, went back out and east to the Nike site, and down Westridge. As I was slogging up one of the last hills, I saw a fuchsia-flowering gooseberry, in bloom. These are just beautiful, finely made red and white flowers depending from the spiny branch. I'd seen lots of plants but only this one and its neighbors in bloom. An entirely undeserved gift from a very patient God. I would have missed it if left to myself. I'd have done the efficient thing.

2005 January 11
This one's really weird. Apologies for the roughness, but I'm trying to catch up.
Email failed. Posted and edited January 12

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