When my first born daughter was just a toddler, we lived on a university campus as staff. Our apartment was in a sprawling Georgian Colonial style residence hall housing hundreds of freshmen women. The building was built with huge wings stretching off to either side, five stories high. Not only was it an imposing structure, but its length gave it huge lawn space. Our entrance was a great set of double doors in the center of the building facing away from the Quad. Only we had keys to these doors, with the result that our daughter had a huge yard to play in, all to herself, since students never came that way. As a stay-at-home dad for the first two years of her life, I loved watching her run back and forth.
When we would come in at night from being out to dinner or visiting friends, she would run ahead of us, down the sidewalk that bisected that great open space. With no trees, she had a clear view of the starry sky. On those occasions when the moon was somewhat lower in the sky she would run toward it, chasing it, never understanding fully how it always ran ahead of her. She was convinced she could catch it.
A gifted friend of mine who is a pastor recently preached about reconciliation and relationships. What is reconciliation, how we achieve it. Whether or not it’s always possible. Sometimes I feel like seeking reconciliation or pursuing relationship is like chasing the moon. You can see clearly to the goal, but try as you might, you don’t ever reach it.
I’ve had remarkable moments of reconciliation in my life. The most remarkable is that which my ex-wife and I achieved, a friendship and relationship which puzzles all those closest to us, family and friends. I’ve also known incredible relationships. The time spent caring for and conversing with my mother over the months of her cancer left me with an understanding of who she was and the depth of her love that I couldn’t have imagined.
But sometimes reconciliation seems impossible and relationships seem destined for failure. I think that it is perhaps a reflection of the unique otherness of each of us. In one sense, we will always be strangers to one another. None of us can have the same experience as another or hear the bare thoughts of another. And yet we grope toward each other in a desire to share, to feel another’s presence, to give and receive love, to be with another. It’s the way we are made.
How much of myself do I give up in seeking reconciliation or relationship? There are those who would say none. But I don’t agree. In the face of our own love and care for another, and that other’s needs, we do yield up some of what we desire in order to meet those needs. I can remain true to myself and yet find ways to live with others. How far do I go with that? I know that I will know it when I have gone too far. But what about before that? How do I know what is just selfishness on my part and not a true desire to take care of myself? I don’t think I have a good way to answer that.
I do know that I like chasing the moon. And I know that sometimes you do actually catch it.