Your Hand in Mine

Before you start reading the rest of this post, pop your headphones on and click play on this YouTube video. Don’t watch it–there’s nothing to see except the name of the band and the song title, but let it play while you keep reading.

I spotted the first half of the rainbow as I pulled out of my parking space. Class was out an hour and a half early, and even after standing in the parking lot with my classmate Freddie talking about Ph.D. programs and the lack of African-American writers of and characters in science fiction, there was still plenty of daylight left. When I reached the one traffic light in Boiling Springs, waiting for the light to change, I saw the other side of the rainbow, beautiful after the violently windy storm that had raged just two hours before.

When I turned left and continued down the curvy road past old homes and farmland outside of town, I realized the rainbow had only been a prequel to the majestic show I was about to experience. Suddenly, I realized that the music playing on my iPod (The Gaslight Anthem–almost always the perfect summer drive soundtrack) was brashly inappropriate. Only one song would suffice: Explosions in the Sky’s “Your Hand in Mine.”

When I turned onto Highway 74, I was overwhelming grateful that living in Travelers Rest now enables me to travel west for my drive home at night. The highway stretched before me, framed by rolling hills and pine trees, straight toward the beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. And surrounding the hills and mountains and trees was the most spectacularly beautiful, majestic sunset I’ve ever witnessed. The bright yellow t-shirt I was wearing seemed blandly colorless in contrast to the rich oranges, pinks, and reds spread across the sky. I even passed a fire burning in a backyard that seemed powerless and tame against the sky. A bank of post-storm clouds chased the sunset across the sky, settling around the mountains.

I decided once that if I ever marry, I’d like to walk down the aisle to “Your Hand in Mine.” I cannot imagine a more lovely moment than a bride walking to her groom to the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard in my life. Still, even this imagined possibility pales in comparison to the love I felt for and from my Heavenly Father tonight. As this song played on the highest volume, I lamented briefly that I was alone with no one to share this moment with. My chest had tightened and tears flowed down my face in the presence of the unexpectedly beautiful glory of the sunset over the mountains. I even reached down to pause my iPod so that I could call someone before stopping short, realizing that no one could possibly understand the moment I was experiencing. For who else in my whole world was traveling down a highway on a cool summer night after a storm with this exact vantage point of the sky and clouds and mountains and mist? Who could understand That Moment?

Only One. “Share this with Me,” my Father whispered.

So often, my heart succumbs to the empty loneliness of a dark night on the road. So often, my strenuous academic schedule, merged with the petty frustrations that plague everyday life, overwhelms my weary soul, making it seem as if life will always be this way, as if I will never find real rest, as if the loneliness is permanent. But tonight, the glorious creation of my Father–a vibrant, blazing sunset over these mountains I love so dearly–vanquished every doubt and worry and flooded my heart with incredible joy and peace.

I’m inside now, typing away in the soft glow of my computer screen and a string of Christmas lights, wishing the sunset weren’t over. I also know, however, that even that glorious sunset would lose its majestic in becoming ordinary, and I’m grateful for the ephemeral moments that I had tonight. I wish, too, that language were not so limited, that words actually existed to convey the beauty of my drive home tonight. This post, however, must suffice, but at least now, I have a soundtrack to remind me of a moment when God’s glory shone brightly across the sky, reminding me that I am powerfully loved by an awesome Creator.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” -Psalm 121.1

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Crazy without the Cat

A few years ago, I made a pact with my friend (and now roommate) Ticcoa that I wouldn’t get a cat. (I think the stipulation was that as long as I was single, I wouldn’t get a cat.) I think that, since I’m a librarian and English teacher and have been single for so long, the theory is that I could eventually morph into a crazy cat lady.

Guess what?

I don’t need the cat to be just plain crazy.

On Saturday, I went through the drive-thru at Taco Bell. Later, I read the label on one of the many snarky sauce packets I was using to spice up my Gordita. The caption? “I’m single. Are you?”

I poured the sauce on my Gordita and threw the empty packet back into the bag while saying, “Yes, I am, sauce packet. Thanks for the reminder.”

It wasn’t until relating this story to Ticcoa last night (during which she was laughing hysterically, I might add) that I realized that this isn’t exactly normative behavior. I was actually in the middle of saying, “It’s not like I actually talked to the pac—” when I realized that, in fact, I did talk to the sauce packet. In a likewise snarky, bordering-on-bitter voice. As if the sauce packet has some actually vested interested in my love life.

Good heavens. Has it come to this? Am I the kind of woman who talks to Taco Bell sauce packets? Yes. Yes, I am. The thing is that this is just one of many very odd quirks that I’m coming to recognize might just be not-so-subtle clues that I’m turning into a crazy lady, even without owning any cats. I won’t both mentioning any of those other quirks lest you decide to run screaming from your computer.

The good news? Ticcoa (almost in tears from laughing) said, “I didn’t laugh so hard this summer until you moved in.” At least my crazy is good for amusing others.

On Pretentious Endnotes

I started reading James Joyce’s Dubliners this afternoon for my Irish Lit class. I’ve sort of dreaded reading this book; Joyce has a pretty scary literary reputation (meaning students tend to loathe him for his verbosity). However, I’m finding that I’m enjoying Joyce (at least the first two short stories in the collection), so maybe the reputation Joyce has garnered is in regards to other works like Ulysses.

Anyway…the two stories I’ve read encompass a mere 20 pages in the book. But the editor of the Penguin Classics edition that I own gave 85 endnotes for those 20 pages. 85 ENDNOTES!!!!!

And most of them aren’t even helpful to the story. Guess what, editor? I know what “altar” and “chalice” and “Wild West” refer to. Those terms don’t possess some secret coding to which only you are privy. And while I might appreciate you pointing out the significance of “Wharf Road” to Dublin geography, I’d like for you to trust me enough to remember what Wharf Road is just a page later. Seriously…give me an endnote to refer to a previous endnote? Ludicrous! I also don’t need an entire page history of the power station on the banks of the Liffey River. And I know who Thomas Moore and Sir Walter Scott were. Is your target audience a middle-school reader? And what middle-school reader would be reading Joyce anyway?!?

All that to say…I’ll be reading very few of the endnotes of Dubliners. If I tried to read every endnote, I’d never have this book read by Wednesday.

End of rant. Thanks for reading. 🙂