Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I stopped crying when I was about twelve years old. I would play hide-n-go-seek-tag with my neighbors. The Older Girls developed a handicapping system for the little kids, so that they wouldn't be it for more than a round. I wasn't the fastest, but I was too old to get a handicap, so I would often be it for several rounds. Frustrated, I would cry. There were other things that I cried about that maybe I didn't need to. I was told to stop, that it was childish and annoying and manipulative and bratty. I suppose I've only cried twice since.

The two times that I've cried as an adult were similar. Both times, I was driving, and both times, I was feeling a certain kind of sad, and, both times, I had similar thoughts. The first time, I was driving home from the job I hated, going down I-95. I was listening to the pop radio station, and a treacly song came on, I think it was I'll Go Wherever You May Go, and I started tearing up, thinking about how God is with me everywhere and relates to me and feels with me. I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of Gatorade and Theraflu because it turned out that I had a very bad cold. I think it had put me in a weird mood.

The other time, I was driving up route 29 from Washington Bible College; I'd visited there for a one-day conference for Christian grad students and faculty in the area. Ike's job is to help start and coordinate ministries and communities for scholars. I have very good feelings about Ike, I look up to him a lot. He introduced me to Joe Versus the Volcano, one of my top 6 favorite movies. He's a geek like me, when he moved into his new house, he had a cabling party, and ran all sorts of cables, ethernet, phone, coaxial, all over the house, even into the bathrooms. He figured it's cheaper and easier to run a lot of cables now. If, in a few years, it would be handy to have a little robot in the bathroom that talks to the internet, it would be easy to just plug it into the wall.

After the conference, some of us went out to eat at a Mexican place; I'm pretty sure I had fajitas. I sat next to Ike. We talked about ADD and snoring and sleep apnea. We also talked about starting a grad fellowship at UMBC. Ike thought this was very important, and I did too.

After supper, I was feeling sad and guilty and I started thinking about how Ike was probably disappointed in me for not already starting a fellowship for grad students, or, at least, for not being more intentional in making friends with non-Christians in my department, to be able to communicate with them about faith. I don't think that Ike was actually disappointed in me, but, at the time, I was feeling very guilty. I wanted to impress Ike.

So, I was driving home, up route 29, and it started raining. I was feeling inadequate, worthless. Then, I started thinking about the stories in Luke 15 about the lost sheep, coin, and son. I was thinking about the lost sheep, about how the shepherd left behind ninety-nine sheep to rescue one sheep. I thought, "I'm like that one lost sheep, and God rescued me. God seems to be bad at math, in a very good way." And then I started crying.

I used to journal. I used the Mead composition books, the ones with the black and white splotchy covers. I gave titles to each journal. The first, starting right after the big snow, I called it "Engineering Life, The Universe, and Everything." The second was "Fish Stories". The third, starting a month or two after the second time I cried since I was a kid, I called "Lost sheep found". I only wrote 27 pages into it and stopped. When I started journaling, I thought that God was communicating with me in a personal way. I stopped journaling when I stopped feeling that way, that I had important personal spiritual insights.

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