On Nuts, Bacon and Bonfires and the Best I’ve Got for Now

I found this piece in my gray purse this morning, stuffed at the bottom with a used napkin, a loose mint, a penny, and an earplug embedded with sand and crushed to death. I wrote it last week, on a pad of legal paper, with a pen that’s bent an a little leaky, and I got ink on my fingers which stayed for days. It’s not finished, but it is written to you, so here it is anyway because it’s the best I could do that day, and also today, and I bet you’ll understand.

With love,

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The sun is shining in Oregon and it’s warm and gentle like the breeze it brought along which is a measure of grace and also confusing because there are people I know and people I love — some of whom are you — who are hurting and in pain, living with confusion and uncertainty, bearing great burdens, and I do not understand how the sun can shine or the wind kiss our skin while we simultaneously live in the nighttime of our grief.

IMG_9276I’m sitting outside at a metal table on a metal chair — the kind that will leave a waffle print on my skin — eating hazelnuts roasted with rosemary and bacon, so mostly picking out the bacon to eat and occasionally, accidentally snagging a nut so I feel virtuous about having a healthy, fibrous fat alongside the unhealthy, salt-laden one, and I feel like I have too much to say to you to capture it well and also not enough to waste your time, which is how I feel most days and is something I have to choose to overcome all the time, shushing the push-me-pull-you of Too Much and Not Enough in favor of using my voice anyway. Using my voice which is a lot like trying to pick out the bits of bacon I like and realizing there are way more nutty things in the mix I’ll have to have, too.

I wish we knew ahead of time which things in life we will struggle with and figure out and which things we will never quite manage so we could lay those things without merit to rest sooner and bid them adieu and spend this one wild, weird, wonderful life pursuing the things that will matter in the end. But I suppose that’s not how it’s done because there are lessons in our longing, and friends to be found, and a Village to be built when we carve out the tangled jungle together. Damn it. It’s just that there are some days — most, really — when I’d pick Easy over Triumphant, and bacon over nuts, and I’d prefer a Village already built and also perfect and also-also with a bonfire in the middle of the square so we can see each other in the dark and dance there with abandon because we’re not afraid of the monsters lurking in the inky night or the monsters lurking in ourselves. Instead, we have to build the Village, brick by brick, and the bonfire, stick by stick, and we have to find the monsters and suss them out and vanquish their power over us using the usual, mundane tools, like Invitation and Inclusion and Kindness and Welcome, even while we shoulder our griefs and short-comings. It seems like an ineffective system, frankly. I’m sure I could have invented a better one.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
6 comments
  1. My dear friend and I have had this conversation before. When we’re talking about Church and “ministry” and what the heck that ever means and when we’re talking about how to love our people well, how to know when to give money and when to just give a hug and our presence. We have said, “It would be so much easier if we just didn’t care.” It would be so much easier if nobody had to live in any kind of poverty and all Churches actually did was Jesus asked us to do and if everyone had everything they needed already. But life isn’t like that. It’s really hard. And we’re choosing to try to do the best we can. Most days. I feel this in my heart.

  2. I’m sure you would have invented a better system if they’d asked, but they didn’t did they? Sigh. I’m tired of keeping the monster within me quiet and hidden from sight. I always thought it had to stay there, never thought there might be a way to vanquish its power. You’re the first person I “know” (or read?) that actually puts into words what I feel and gives good suggestions for dealing with it at the same time.
    Thank you for being you and being here for all of us. Big wave, from somewhere between floating and drowning and bobbing along trying to get some gentle sunshine on my skin and a breath of breeze while I’m at it.

  3. I’m going to print this and hang it up, to read over and over again. <3 I am – seriously.

  4. I’ve got an adorable Boy Scout who can light that bonfire without even a match, but until we’ve gotten it built, I’ll be over here in Texas waving at you in the dark! Love your posts, and I know this is weird, but THANK YOU for proofreading and using correct grammar and spelling. It is one of the many things I love about you.

  5. The only thing imperfect about this is your disclaimer at the beginning. I love your heart, Beth.

  6. I’m pretty sure this is perfect just the way it is. Thank you.

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