Monday, October 29, 2007

Unspeakable tragedy redeemed

Life is full of often painstakingly-long processes of transformation, peppered every now and then with eternally significant moments. Yesterday contained one of those moments.

It was certainly one for my friend, sharing with me her darkest secret, a secret she planned on taking to her grave with her, a secret she was sure would destroy our friendship. I let her take her time, but told her I didn’t plan on leaving the table until she was able to get it off her chest.

She went to any length she could to avoid saying it. She told me she was chickening out, and I told her we’d have sit at that table an awfully long time then. She deliberately made it obvious, hoping she wouldn’t have to actually say the words.

“Have you figured it out?” she asked me.

“Yeah, but you still haven’t said it,” I answered.

“Well, why don’t you just say what you think it is, and I’ll tell you if you’re right?”

“Nope,” I stubbornly insisted.


“Because when this day is over, I want you to go to bed knowing that you said it on your own.”

As she struggled and talked around it, I had constant flashbacks of myself in her position six year earlier, needing to tell a friend a secret I was sure would ruin the friendship. My excitement in telling my secret had been victorious enough that I immediately wrote a (long) book about the experience, but in my case my worst fears had proved true, and the friendship was destroyed. For six years I have been unsure of how to file that situation in my memory. I have never actually read the book I wrote about the experience.

Yesterday may have been (and was indeed) an eternally significant moment for my friend, but the surprise was that it was for me as well. After six years of holding onto that un-file-able story, after trying to concoct redeeming situations so I could finally take that old demon off the back-burner, I had the chance to sit on the other side of the same table (so to speak), uncharacteristically confident of how I should be reacting to her fumbles because I knew what her side of the table felt like.

Jane Austen is (thankfully!) not the author of my story, which means that the redemption of the unspeakable tragedy sometimes takes longer than 20 pages. On the contrary, redemption often happens in the most unexpected places, when one has long given up looking for it. Like a really good joke, it’s so subtle that you could miss it if you’re not paying attention, which is why we so often do.

But as I start to learn to see it, I can’t help but admit that I like the way God runs his world.


Kat said...

I love this post.

I'm sorry I wasn't at Compline last night. I hope it was as lovely as ever.

Expect my responses to what you sent me before the end of the week.

Wonders for Oyarsa said...

See, now you have me all curious whether your secret would ruin our friendship. ;-)