Flaky Clay

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Yesterday morning I woke with the last vestiges of a dream in my head.  A hand, mine or someone else's, very finely sculpting an almost-finished figure.  Just like I had been doing for several hours the night before.  The slightest of pressure on the cheek area, and tiny flakes of nearly-dry clay were falling to the ground.  And I thought, "This is how I am.  Not so much a pile of mushy clay, but these, like these flakes.  A sort of a gentle falling to the ground and dying.  These flakes are dying and so shall I."

It was a rather melancholy sort of a dream.  There were tears.  I arrived first day back at work later that morning to the news that one of my workmates, Toni, has inoperable pancreatic and liver cancer.  I do not know how much time she has.  Her youngest child is two or three years old.  The photos that adorned her cubicle space are already gone, her name tag taken down, all signs of her workaday monotone plod gone.

No more work for Toni in 2010.  Apparently she had found out just before Christmas.  Had gone to the doctor's complaining of feeling bad and whammo. Mary was the one who told me, before I started my work for the day.   I squatted next to her death and we talked of death bringing everything home, about the frailty and fragility of life, its mystery (what the hell is this about), about the fact that one of our workmates dying brings into even starker relief the dreariness of our everyday work lives.  I resolved to move on as soon as possible.  To get out of that place.  To believe that there is something else out there for me to do before it's my turn to drop off the perch. 

Life is, after all, too short.  The longer it goes on the more mysterious it gets.

I cried at God earlier, asking him why, in this current state of melancholy I am in (oh, do they ever end, dear reader?) it feels as though he is not even there, that he just patently does not give a shit.

No answer.

Okay, then.  Have it your way.

So we move on, we put one foot in front of the other so often living in this strange world of plenty and total lack, we yearn towards life.  We do not know what we yearn for, but for life and for love.  For connection.  For meaning.  For the deeply held cry within all of our hearts that these lives we live have value, that every one of us has value, that God is always working even when lately it seems like he is not even there at all.

But still I meditate.  I breathe in, "mother God/father God" and I breathe out.  I pray.  I pray to a God who does not seem to be talking to me at the moment but perhaps for all I know he is saying all sorts of things and I cannot quite hear them yet.  Whatever.  I am angry and that's all there is to it.  Perhaps that is why I cannot hear.  What the bloody hell do I know?

But I know and have learnt one thing, and it's that these flakes of clay get to be angry, are safe to be angry at God when that is what I feel.  God, who is more baffling than ever to me right now, and who I feel has forsaken me, but in the end you have to just bow and say, What the bloody hell do I know?

The way we bow down to death, the way a reed bows down to the wind.  And welcoming it too.  Defining our lives.  The approach of death, pushing us towards life.


  1. Sigh...there has to be more...I know. Wish I could see it/find it/know it.

    Very sorry to hear about your workmate. May God grant peace and love to her children.

  2. The approach of death, pushing us towards life.

    a wise observation
    may we push toward life without being diagnosed terminal

  3. I think those flakes of death are incredibly important for us all to observe and our lives are poorer when we deny them.

  4. ooh thats just awful...I curse pancreatic cancer, such a horrible way to die, and to leave behind young children...its just all too terrible! I just dont know who God is any more I keep thinking he/she/it's just a fake invisible friend for grownups.

  5. Erin - yes, may God at least grant peace for her kids. It's funny though, I think about how this sort of thing has gone on forever and ever, and I wonder if we are less able to cope with this sort of thing these days when we have so many more illusions of control over our environment? Not sure. But still, it's the quandary question in the end, isn't it - I think it's the cliff over which all atheists jump: why a good God allows these things.

    There does have to be more. I think we both feel that. I guess sometimes just knowing it's there even when you can't see it has to be enough *sigh*.

    Kel - Indeed! May we push toward life without being diagnosed terminal (terminally insane is what I hope to avoid a diagnosis of, haha :)

    Tess - I agree. I think like so many things, out the other side of our discomfort and denial there is comfort and renewal and life even beyond death. To deny it is to just stay young and ungrown (and surely our cultures of all are childish cultures)

    Andrea - yeah, I curse it too. And you know I'm tracking with you about the God thing ... except he's still there, I can't deny it. I keep coming across him, lying underneath everything, hardly discernible. I so want him to be there for all of us. I want us to feel his presence wrapping round us like cloaks.

  6. I am sorry to hear about your workmate, I feel sad for her children. Is she married? Who will care for them?

    I remember so many times sitting in my cubicle thinking "I need to get out of this place and do something I enjoy before its too late". I didn't. Now I am unemployed living on handouts from my family feeling as flaky as your clay :(


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