I like circular plots. The sort of stories in which characters move out, go upon some sort of journey, and return again, changed.
Dorothy, tired of her life, dreams of going somewhere different, so her life can be different, only to find the things she really cherished were at home. Her journey changed her heart so it recognized what was important.
Ishmael tires of life on land, so he takes a job on a whaling vessel, and by the time he floats back to shore clinging to that coffin, his journey witnesses monomania and hubris, changing his views on faith, life, and humanity. His returns marks his deep change.
Ged saves his village with magic, and is sent to develop his powers at Roke... releasing an evil he discovers is really a part of himself. His journey takes him out, and returns him, scarred, yet wiser.
There is a pattern to such novels, a satisfaction in the circular, that rings true to my own experience of life. It seems I am always returning, yet never the same.
I like to write that way. Most of the posts on these blogs have that sort of pattern in the topics. I start out on one topic, get the reader used to the idea I’m exploring, and then I go off on a little journey. I head somewhere else. The journey may wind around a bit, but I usually bring it back and show how the journey ends where it began.
Perhaps it is because our lives are filled with cycles that we appreciate circular plots.
The moon waxes and wanes, crescent to gibbous, and the rhythm of that cycle beats in our hearts on a nearly genetic level.
The seasons roll, rebirth of life in the Spring, growth in the summer, harvest in the Fall, rest and fallowness of Winter, the slowing of the cycle in preparation of the rebirth of another Spring.
Hours of the day, seasons of the year, the rotation of generations, even the ebb and flow of wars seem to return again and again. Perhaps never exactly the same, but close enough for us to feel the familiarity.
“History never repeats itself, but it often rhymes.” -- Mark Twain
The other sort of journey is the line. I think most of us feel our lives are such stories. We are born, our lives wind around, events large and small mark the mileposts, and there is never any returning. If we do come back to where we had been once before, we feel that either we or the place has changed so much that it isn’t the same any more.
What is my story? What sort of plot am I living?
It has been a difficult journey, one that isn’t finished. I have tried to accept my faults, my failings, and that isn’t an easy honesty. I see clearly now.
Two things dominate my thoughts today. My children and my faith.
There is another side of the self esteem issue that is more healthy.
I know I am insignificant. I have a fair concept of the size of the universe, a fair handle on the the number of stars in galaxies, the way galaxies dance together, form clusters, reach toward each other in spinning motions that take millions of years, how some form groups... I know of the 10,000 year beat of the thrumming of galactic superclusters.
I know I am insignificant. A single life form on a small ball of dirt on the edge of a rather ordinary island of stars inhabiting a place in the universe that has no particular difference from any other place in the universe.
I feel something. I sense something.
I know I am significant...
That doesn’t necessarily make things easy.
As I have wrestled with the issues in my life I have turned, again and again, to what my faith tells me to do.
Sometimes, being a Christ follower is a lot tougher than one would guess. I think about Jesus, what He did, how He lived, and it makes my decisions more difficult.
I think about Christ, how He knew Judas would betray Him. Yet He loved Judas. He taught him and walked with him, and shared His life with him.
Could I do that? Could I offer trust, knowing I would betrayed?
This isn’t the trite teenage look at life, wondering “What would Jesus do?” This is my knowingly walking into a future that will hurt me, will harm me.
Looking at His life, trying to follow His example, is tough.
Perhaps the struggle is enough. Perhaps in examining my life, in seeing my faults and weaknesses, and hers as well, perhaps in the climbing over of rough terrain, I gain the strength, the spiritual muscle, which is enough for the lessons set before me.
I thought about Robert Frost’s poem about the road diverging in the woods, and I know I have such choices.
I share this choice, it is hers as well as mine, but I accept that this marriage has failed, that I have not been able to grasp onto it in a way that will save it. And I accept it. I accept my failures, own them.
I want to live my life to the end and feel I did it with as much integrity as I could.
I heard the echo my words are creating...
“...well done good and faithful servant...” (Matthew 25:21)
Some day I expect to live in grandeur greater than the most majestic chorus of beauty sung by dancing galaxies. Not because I will have earned it, for I cannot, but because someone has thought me significant enough to give that to me.
It isn’t the sort of love I long for in my heart today, but it is enough for me to do my best, my very best, in loving my children, loving my wife, making tough choices.
I’m unsure if I should see this as a lesson along a long road of life with many twists and turns and rough terrain... or perhaps it is the return of a journey, the coming home part of the circle plot that this small life has told in its living.