The Wound of a Burden
My observance of Good Friday is enhanced this year by virtue of the work that I performed yesterday afternoon: renailing old subfloor, with all the crouching and hammer swinging that entails, followed by the lugging of heavy plywood and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) up two racks of pipe staging and through a window just big enough to allow the sheets at an angle. For those who understand less than half of the previous sentence, the point is that I’m sore, particularly in my shoulders and my wrists.
Sometimes feeling some echo of an ache helps one to appreciate the pain and distraction of suffering.
On Wednesday night, I went to the Redwood Library in Newport for a book reading and signing for my friend Andrew McNabb, who was in the area promoting The Body of This, which I reviewed on Monday. In the audience were a couple of people who participated in the Third Thursday Writers Group at the Redwood, back before my writing took a political turn. None would meet my eye. When the library’s executive director introduced Andrew, she described the group and suggested that it might be starting up again, if there’s interest; for some reason, she omitted mention of the two literary reviews that I produced for the group and distributed for free around town.
It’s possible that, over the past five years, my looks have changed dramatically enough (from editor to carpenter) that my fellow writers did not recognize me. It’s also possible that the executive director has forgotten the books (which were not an official publication of the library) or that she doesn’t wish to appear to be promising another such opportunity for writers. But the possibility that my ideological convictions and, moreover, visibility in declaring them have constructed an interpersonal burden that I must bear among those whom I once knew brought out, for me, the underlying profundity of one of the stories that Andrew read:
When we think of wounds — and of scars — we concentrate on the sharp pains in life, but the burdens that we must carry leave their marks, too. And if we recognize them for what they are, we can learn from them, perhaps even be glad of them.
(The Body of This is available on Aquinas & More as well as on Amazon.)