Oh, someone asked me the other day how my life is going. You know, just a kind of conversation opener. We hadn’t seen one another all summer. And so it was like, Who are you now? Who have you become? Are you the same person I knew before the summer, when we used to see one another regularly? Has anything important changed? Have you traveled? What have you learned? How does the universe look to you now?
But of course we don’t ask most of these questions out loud, usually. They are implied. They stand in back of the voiced question. The voiced concerns or comments. The voiced conversation openers.
So we have illustrated for ourselves here the apparent versus the real. The surface versus the depths. The seen and heard versus the unseen and the unheard.
When one is gone. When one leaves home and is either temporarily or permanently away, one does change. One does not like to admit to profound change, but it nevertheless happens. Happens all the time. To all of us.
We leave to go on vacation. We play by the lakeside. We take a hike through the woods. We kayak for an hour or drink a beer or dandle a grand-niece on one’s knee. Or we visit a relative. Or we make a telephone call. Or we look upon mountains we’ve never seen before. And we are changed.
Something shifts. It’s not always clear what. Usually not. But something has happened. We become different people. Upon our return, we experience our lives as if we were different people.
Being away is supposed to be good for one. I suppose it is. Or can be. Vacations are said to prolong lives. Reduce the stress. And so forth. And I suppose they must, with all the research that’s been done.
Time away from those one cares about also changes one. Changes the relation. Puts the relation in a different topography now. Puts it into a strange terrain.
And it’s like that with God, too. I think. One gets irritated with the other. One feels the stress of the relation from time to time. And so one takes a vacation. One leaves the other to his own devices. And takes some time away.
And when one returns to the other. Well. There seems to be so much that for a long time is left unsaid. Seems better left that way.