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Since Greer's departure exactly three weeks ago, I have been unsure of the degree to which I should share my feelings about his absence.  It is with no small amount of sadness and struggle that I have endeavored to set up a new life in Texas that does not include him.  I have revealed that this has been disorienting as I have moved from single grad student living alone in New Haven to a summer living with family in California to the wedding and honeymoon to married life on an enormous Army base in upstate New York to now living alone again as essentially a grad student again in a sleepy town in central Texas.  It is disorienting.  But it is much, much more than that, and I have hesitated to contemplate it too deeply.  After all, my sadness is bridled by the fact that I am overwhelmingly grateful for Greer in the first place.  He is the tall, dark, and handsome young officer-lawyer-scholar-athlete-gentleman that I always imagined when I looked at Tiffany's ads in magazines as a pre-teen, and I am still not over the fact that I have one of those of my very own.  He isn't here now, but he is still my spouse, and my heart is still brimming with gratitude that I get to build my life with him. 

It feels indecent to indicate anything beyond that I miss him very much, I am proud of him, and I hope for his speedy return.  But today I am working on a project that involves the letters the imprisoned Bonhoeffer wrote in 1944 about the Song of Songs, in which he, still hopeful of his release, describes his intense homesickness and longing for his fiancee Maria.  He does not want to succumb to self-pity, but his investigation of his longing leads to some beautifully fruitful conclusions about the same feelings in the Song of Songs.  He writes:

"I believe that we ought so to love and trust God in our lives, and in all the good things that he sends us, that when the time comes (but not before!) we may go to him with love, trust, and joy.  But, to put it plainly, for a man in his wife's arms to be hankering after the other world is, in mild terms, a piece of bad taste, and not God's will.  We ought to find and love God in what he actually gives us."

Later on (these quotations I take directly from an essay by Alan Jacobs called "Paganism and Literature" published in Christianity and Literature in the summer of 2007), Bonhoeffer continues this theme:

"Christianity puts us into many different dimensions of life at the same time; we make room in ourselves, to some extent, for God and the whole world.  We rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep...but at the same time we must think about things much more important to us than life itself...It's really only faith itself that can make possible a multi-dimensional life."

This multi-dimensional life takes us through the ridiculous and the sublime, where at one moment we consider our existence in terms of the eschaton and at the next are caught in the throat by the joys and sorrows of this life that have more power than our contemplation of eternity will ever have.  And through faith in Christ, we incorporate both of these notions of existence into our effort to make sense of things. 

Although I am most certainly not imprisoned by the Nazis at this time, I do feel a constant ache for Greer that sometimes boils into near panic. A strong wish to be decorous has mixed with my wish to "keep everything in perspective" and stay strong, but I am beginning to feel that there is something to be gained in the Christian life when we allow the earthly to invade the sublime and seek the spiritual truths behind the joys and sorrows - more importantly the sorrows - of our lives.  I am certainly glad that Bonhoeffer did. 


  1. Thanks for sharing, Catherine. I pray that God will continue to show you how to live the multi-dimensional life that is in front of you. Take care, and big hugs.


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