Monday, May 05, 2003

Exciting day today.

Got an A on my first really big English paper. Got a B on my first big German exam; meh. But I'm doing much better in German now, so I worry less. I've gotten high A's on our last two assignments. And he's switching the format of the class to include more small quizes and fewer huge exams. That should help me quite a bit. The way I calculate it, I should have three easy A's this quarter. German is questionable; could go A- because I got a B on the first damn test that seems to count ridiculously much. But who complains about a 3.9? Oh, yeah, I do. But I need to stop that.

Plus, I bought my backpack. Yay! And I remembered to renew my plates. Yay! And I won several games of monopoly (Am I obsessed? Yes.). Yay! I ate a lot of food. Yay! I can now recite the story of Snow White in elementary German with a minimum of mistakes. Yay! I listened to a lot of Carter Family songs. Yay! And I rescheduled my weekend so I can see X-men with April on Friday, and plan my trip with Jody on Sunday. Yay!

I had to read Lamentations for school last night. I've read it before, but it didn't have the impact on me then that it has now. It's full of such beautiful and desolate imagery. I think I used to just skim over massive parts of the Bible because, personally, I didn't give a damn about Jerusalem and felt no empathy for the people who wept for her. As I've gotten older, it's become much easier (though it's still a bit of a stretch coming from the perspective of a multicultural society with mass communication) for me to imagine such tremendous love for a homeland and a people. For one thing, getting older means becoming attached to things and people in a way you can't imagine when you're young. For another, studying history has made the reality of what it means to be under attack that much more clear to me.

I can't imagine what it would be like to see that "Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the suckling child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them" (Lam. 4:4). To see how the skin of the once young and robust Nazarites now "cleaveth to their their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick" (Lam. 4:7-8). How the women are so desperate that they must "eat their fruit, and children of a span long?" (Lam 2:20). "The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people" (Lam. 4:10).

Jeremiah, or whoever the writer of Lamentations is, has just seen his entire world crumble. He says of the destruction that it was worse than that of Sodom. Because, while Sodom was destroyed in a day, Jerusalem suffered starvation and terror under a lengthy siege. Mothers, sisters, daughters, have been raped and carried off. The young men slaughtered or taken into slavery. Those who survived the attack are now starving, and may not live to see another day. The world is gone. And where is God?

According to the author, God is right there, pulling the strings. Judah is destroyed for its sins. While other nations might boast of having destroyed Jerusalem, God is ultimately responsible. And the author, rather than cursing God for his fierce wrath, looks forward to mercy.

"The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord... For the Lord will not cast off forever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men... Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High procedeth not evil and good? Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Let us search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." - Lamentations 3:24-41.

It's an attitude I can only partially understand. I'm the master of my universe, so far as I'm concerned, and the captain of my soul. I judge not only myself, but my neighbor, and the angels, and even God if given the chance. If I were put to the test, I would undoubtedly fail. I'm a true American, and was born without a King. Nevertheless, such faith amazes me, even as it baffles me. Like an ear for music, or an eye for detail, a soul with faith seems to me something natural and inborn, and perhaps, utterly foreign to me, who can hardly clunk out a few notes, and who never notices anything at all of importance.

I downloaded Rachmaninoff's The Lord's Prayer, as performed by the Tallis Scholars a bit ago, and I'm playing it on loop. I was trying to find Thomas Tallis' version of Jeremiah's Lamentations on WinMX and struck out. But I grabbed the chance for Rachmaninoff right up. Life is good.