Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | September 23, 2009

Tears Burning like a River of Fire

There is much that came to mind when I read the close of Kalomiris’s “River of Fire”. Mostly what sticks is the sense of God’s unrequited love for so many of us, and how in turn we seem to experience something similar in so many of our fractured marriages and families. Some measure of this disappointment may stem less from an act of will than perhaps from the simple fact that so often love speeds ahead of friendship through lust or through matter-of-fact birth, and the assumed catch-up fundamental to maturity seldom receives the priority it should: We’re just too busy.

So whenever the day comes when we find ourselves confronted with a lull in the lovefest, we communicate more haphazardly if at all. And all a little chaos needs to end badly is a little momentum, the sort that unguarded conversations seem to find as readily as water flows down a hill. It is here where congratulating ourselves on “how easy it’s been” soon finds us wondering why or whether in fact we dodged out on “the sweat of our brow thing”. Maybe we’ve avoided what needed doing, maybe we’ve just deferred it, or maybe it was just skipped over as we rolled along happily assuming time together covered all the bases.

As a wag once observed there’s a difference between experience (time spent together) that’s all the same – even if good, and experience that winds progressively towards a goal – though both may objectively appear the same. Our babies and those of others we’ve married just aren’t once-and-for all delivered; nor are we. And change happens. Even where we have the best of starts, these are only starts. There’s just so much more that’s supposed to follow on to help us find what our values are, and whether in fact we value each other.

Wish I knew the answer, but I’m not even sure I have the question. I am equally as unaware of the work I’ve done as I am of the work I’ve left undone.  Tend to discover these on the fly. And the puzzle of Maslow’s theory of utility continues to rear it’s head: What works well and develops well at one point just can’t be relied on to work always. Other needs and solutions come along and need feeding as well. Some of us get comfortable sticking with what works, and if it stops, maybe “it’s just a phase”. So we keep hitting on the same nail with the same hammer. And if maybe in a moment of inspiration we decide the time has come to adjust our tolerances, widen allowances for one or the other, maybe it’s a good thing to allow room to breathe and discover where we are – at least as long as we continue to define ourselves as together in some fashion. This fashion is clear-cut with our spouses (I hope), but more ambiguous for our kids who are no doubt on their way to full-fledged independence, but often equally anxious about it.

The problem is that these things are two-sided, and both of us can be so busy working each other’s variables with good intent that one zigs while the other zags. Granting freedom can seem like not caring, and granting latitude can seem like disinterest… when in fact this is so far from the truth and the focus indeed lies in discovering what makes the other happy. Evidently, there’s no risk-free solution and a light but constant touch on the tiller is probably the best. And that’s just some of the difficulties where the interest converge… where they don’t… Lord have mercy.

So there is much joy whenever these momentary fractures surface and are healed in a new and healthier place. Sure they will break again… it’s the course of life, but clarification of a heart’s intent is worth much rejoicing… for it endures. And it gives confidence that no matter what comes next… for there is always a next time… whatever’s next may present a pause, but not an impediment.

Thus this closing excerpt  from the “River of Fire” paints a picture that to me seems one of great pain – where love remains unrequited and there is no second chance. We’re fairly warned.

“Depart from Me, ye cursed, into the everlasting inner fire of hatred, saith the Lord, because I was thirsty for your love and you did not give it to Me, I was hungry for your blessedness and you did not offer it to Me; I was imprisoned in My human nature and you did not come to visit Me in My church; you are free to go where your wicked desire wishes, away from Me, in the torturing hatred of your hearts which is foreign to My loving heart which knows no hatred for anyone. Depart freely from love to everlasting torture of hate, unknown and foreign to Me and to those who are with Me, but prepared by freedom for the devil, from the days I created My free, rational creatures. But wherever you go in the darkness of your hating hearts, My love will follow you like a river of fire, because no matter what your heart has chosen, you are and you will eternally continue to be, My children.”


  1. I think you have described very well our feeble and/or sinful attempts to be in relationship with one another. Lord, have mercy, indeed, on all of us.
    Thank you for this post.

  2. Gretchen… thank you for visiting. Someday if I’m lucky… and I make some progress… maybe I’ll know less.

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