Monday, July 05, 2010

In the Oven


When I was twenty two years old I was just finishing my mission.  I was toast.  It was month twenty one.  I had invested my heart and soul, hook line and sinker and been burned to the ground.  Every morning I got up and fought the good fight.  It was unlike normal american life in almost every way.  Part of the next 3 months was that I was trapped, every hour of every day with a 19 year old man I will call Elder W.  It was hard.
I served in a mission were there was a lot of wrestling.  Half of the people who read this will believe it was all homo erotic.  All I can say is that I know how it sounds, but if you had been there, you wouldn't think that.  If you went into all the apartments where Elders lived, you would find that one in three would have some drywall and a bucket of spackle in a back room somewhere.  The reason for this is that one missionary in the act of wrestling had pushed another through a wall and they had to repair it.  The supplies were still there because it was likely that it would happen again.
I wrestled with most of my companions.  One of them broke my nose when he hit my head from behind with his forearm and smashed my face into the floor.  But that was the exception.  Most often there was no anger involved, it was just a way to blow off steam from the constant and relentless rejection we faced every day.  Like I said, it was hard.  But with Elder W. it was different.  We wrestled every single day.  I bested him every single day.  There were some good moments, singing in the car on long drives was one of my favorites.  There were bad moments.  I remember W being so livid with anger and unwilling to talk about it.  I wanted him to admit he was angry.  He was having none of it.  My thinking was, we can not go out there and try to represent the divinity filled with range.  That's not ok.  So I figured we needed to work it out, come hell or high water before we left the apartment.  Well, both came.  It was the only time when we were not, both of us agreeing to wrestle.
Now that I think about it I am ashamed.  At the time it was the absolute dig deep best I could do.  It was the best he could do too.  That's the funny thing.  We were both trying so very very hard to be so very very good.
I mention the bad because that is what makes what I'm about to tell you exceptional.  Every night, before we got into out beds, one on each side of the room, we would kneel and pray together.  And then we would hug each other.  Every night.  Even when we were filled with hate.  The hate wasn't that often but I have never gotten over that we hugged anyway.  And it was honest.  We were not pretending we were not angry, but we were not acting as if anger was mutually exclusive with anything good.  In spite of everything we both were committed completely to trying to be good.
I have never experienced anything quite like that in my life, before or since.  I don't doubt that I am responsible for the scarcity (though I am approximating some exceptions).  There was a lot that was wrong about the situation, about the way I interacted with others, but the commitment thing felt right.  Thank you my friend.  God bless you.

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