I’m currently reading the book Zero K by Don DeLillo. A lit professor back at West Chester University introduced me to DeLillo’s work. It was a semester where I’d discover him, Paul Auster and Martin Amis, a trilogy of authors I still read whenever the inspiration tank is running low.
Zero K is the story of a family led by a wealthy patriarch. He develops the technology to make cryogenic resurrection a possibility. The patriarch calls his son to his compound, the base of the cryogenic facility, for the day his stepmother will be frozen.
The father tells his son that he’s decided to be frozen himself, to kill himself the day she goes in. After a heated conversation, the son walks out of his office. The next morning he finds his father a mess and in mourning.
He asks him why he didn’t go through with it. The father replies:
“It was our conversation yesterday. You said, if I do it, I reduce you.”
In one sentence, DeLillo captures the essence of being a parent and traveling a spiritual journey.
When children come, we find ourselves balancing their needs with our own. I posted last time about my cousin, still waiting a heart transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital down in Philly. My aunt is staying there, living at the hospital in daily anticipation.
My aunt has spent her career as a nurse still, years after retirement, substituting in local school districts. She put in her time enough to have a place at the Delaware beaches and, yet, she’s here keeping vigil in my cousin’s room.
So many years had passed in both of their lives, good times and turbulent times, and tonight they sit together one strengthened by the other. The parent refusing to reduce the child by walking away.
Some of us, looking back, see walking away as a necessary part of growing up.
The house of our families had broken down enough to destroy any chance that we’d trust again. We keep everyone at a distance. We live in our stress, sitting in quiet times with racing minds and pounding pulses.
As men, we internalize.
I was taking Alka-Seltzer at fifteen.
Even with our preconceptions, God tells us the same message. We are meant for greater things. We are meant for a life of adventure, danger, creation, thrills, victory, and stories grand enough to glorify the one that spoke the Universe into being.
God tells us the same thing.
Even when everyone else has walked away, turned their back, stopped calling and blanked us in silence. Even when darkness seems liquid and thick enough to fill a room. Even when hope is four letters without meaning.
God will not walk away.
Without God, we are reduced to the fumes of our humanity. With God, we burn in the flame of perfect love.
Whether in a hospital room, putting our kids to sleep, holding hands on the couch, or walking down a fall forest trail, we are never alone.
Tonight, I pray you find peace. Find faith as a verb and not a noun and hear your calling to so much more.