Saturday, December 17, 2005

Advent | Love | Matthew Hooton

On the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, this from a friend far away. A daring, brave and honest blessing to me over the past week. Thanks Matthew.

Advent 2005-12-12 | Love
by Matthew Hooton

In winter, the only thing to do on the Korean peninsula is wait for spring, for the dragonfly season, when thousands of the insect oil-slicks stutter-buzz above, trippin’ the light fantastic on translucent wings in pursuit of mosquitoes. As I write this, the dragonfly season is at least 120 days away, and the air is frozen under an impossibly blue sky- a prairie sky, for those of us who speak Canadian. And I’m thinking about the West Coast of Canada, missing the slap-clatter of hockey sticks on asphalt, Randy’s bald head, and yes, the theme music at the beginning of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

I’m trying to write about love and I’m stalling. The topic’s scary. You should have seen the first five drafts of this. First I wrote about how love was hard work and compared it to climbing a mountain. I’m in the middle of planning a trip up Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo, and I couldn’t get mountains out of my head. After I deleted that paragraph I wrote about how the symbol of the advent candle isn’t enough, and that the church, by which I just mean you, needs to get past its symbols and actually do something. But I deleted that too. Then I wrote about the problem of symbols in general, how they’re never enough, and how words are really just symbols, but that just led to two days of depression because I’m a writer. When I came out of that, I deleted everything I’d written and wrote an email to Janet Doherty telling her that my head was too far up my, er, up in the clouds to write about love at all. But before I sent it I realized that I’d be really disappointed in myself if I didn’t at least keep trying, so I didn’t send the email. Then I decided to write about my marriage, but that’s just relational suicide, since examining things that work well often leads to them getting broken- just imagine me taking apart my dad’s laptop computer to see how it worked… I figured I could write about the ways that the church loves people, but that was too easy. And I considered writing about how the church fails to love people, but that was even easier. And that’s where I ended up. I mean, you can look at the advent candle and think about love, or not, and I can write to you about things that will make you feel good or things that will make you feel bad, but in the end, you’ve probably heard it all before. In the end, it’s up to you.

So this is a test: Will you please love me?

Sounds kinda strange eh? I’ve noticed that the longer I think about a piece of writing the more it leans towards confession. I guess once I sort through all the crap I start to take a look at myself.

Did you know that I stole three candy bars and a package of mints from Thrifty Foods when I was four?

Will you please love me?

Or that often I don’t believe in God? In fact, I’m not sure that I do as I write this. Maybe I’ll have faith tomorrow.

Will you please love me?

I’ve spent more time playing video games, watching sports on TV and looking at porn than reading the bible.

Will you please love me?

I’ve only been proud of Canada twice. Once when we won the gold medal in hockey at the Salt Lake City Olympics, and once when we made gay marriage legal.

Will you please love me?

I’m worried that as this is read out loud, most of you will be thinking about what a horrible person I am, and not about my question. I’m worried that I do the same thing everyday to people around me. I’m worried that the candle of love will burn out and that this Christmas season will be over and that we’ll go back to hating or forgetting about each other. I’m worried about a lot of things, really. I’m worried about how I can’t tell a lot of the people in my life that I love them. I’m worried that I don’t love them. I’m worried that I don’t know what love is.

But in thinking about writing this, I’ve discovered something that I do know without a doubt. I really want you to love me. I want to be loved. I doubt that I’m alone. Do you know that I even researched the history of the candle making process just to try to impress you? And in the end, this is what I wrote! A confession and a request for love that sounds kinda pathetic- sounds far away and strange even as I write it.

And so here I am, sitting in a small apartment on the Korean peninsula, thinking about love, about how to talk about love, how to write about it, and I’m worried, and I’m unsure of myself, and I’m starting to wish that I’d refused to write this at all. I’m just so human. But then, maybe that’s really what this Christmas thing is all about. Christ didn’t come to show us how to be gods, he came to show us how to be humans. And maybe wanting love is something that a lot of us have in common, and common ground is worth meditating on.

It’s not much to hold onto, I know, but it’ll get me through the winter to dragonfly season at least, and it’s better than a sappy love poem, which, by the way, I also considered sending.

ps. The history of candle making isn’t very interesting.
pps. An out-of-season dragonfly landed on my shoulder the day after I wrote this. I sat still until it took off, disappeared from sight above the mumble-drunk traffic, like an idea or inkling that you glimpse for a second and then lose- at least until spring.


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