Thunderstorms are my favorite thing. The crack of lightning, the rumble of thunder. Strong rain on my roof and me, warm in my bed, watching.
Let me amend this to say that thunderstorms are my favorite thing when I am in a safe, warm, dry place. If I were camping, or stuck on the side of the road, or walking home from the bus stop, they might feel far more menacing, and even be dangerous. But from a safe place, it’s easy to sit and watch these natural systems play out. What do I care? No harm can come to me here.
Watching crazy talk and arguments on the internet has always felt that way. I can sit and watch the whole thing unfold, maybe even run into the rain for a bit, then run back to the safety of my room. It’s not really all that fun, to be honest. And it can be dangerous, so I avoid that now. All this to say that thunderstorms on the internet are NOT my favorite thing. Those lightning strikes can set fires.
I always tell people that the internet has a long memory and a short attention span, and I know it to be fully true.
I look at the fires that spring up online, see how hot they burn and then they’re gone and everyone moves on. They’re extinguished, yes, but we all remember the heat of the fire on the skin. Sometimes people will use kindling to set these fires from words out of context, from altered ideas, from innuendo, from outright lies.
And this is why it burns so well…the kindling is there, the fuel in place, the match struck, and then oxygen. Fires need oxygen.
I don’t often respond to lies thrown at me on the internet. I don’t think it’s worth the air or the airtime. Adding oxygen just makes the fires burn longer and hotter, more skin is touched and burned with each blow. That is no way to live.
And I don’t intend to start responding to fire setters now. Instead, I wonder if it makes more sense to simply place a heavy wool blanket on this fire.
I learned about Orthodoxy from a poet, who later became my friend. This poet, turned friend, met me on the road to becoming Orthodox before I even knew I was on it. He spoke of the tradition, of the Jesus Prayer, of healing and grace and peace and Christ.
I was bleeding.
I had just miscarried for the second time and was once again pregnant and I was bleeding. The doctors said the baby was fine, but I was afraid. I’d been here before. I was skeptical. I was waiting. I was still heartbroken from the first baby I lost and the second baby I lost.
And yes, they were babies. I don’t know the scientific arguments and I don’t care. I don’t know the theological arguments and I don’t care. There was a spark set in me and though it was early, I knew there was a human in the making here in my body. I wrapped my arms around my belly when I got a positive pregnancy test. I wrapped my arms around my belly as I bled.
I was carrying a person in the making in my very body and when that tiny human stopped their making, my heart was broken, my body was bleeding.
I never have, in my life, doubted that humans begin at the beginning. My first lost baby I called John. My second, I called Michael. I know that not everyone thinks or feels this way. That doesn’t bother me. I think and feel it. I know it to be true and good.
I have been the bleeding woman who longs to touch Christ’s robe. I have been the woman accused, whom Christ defends. I have been the woman who kissed and wept at His feet, who went to the tomb to annoint His broken, ruined body, who found the tomb empty, who met Him on the road, who rejoiced at His rising, who preached His goodness and mercy. I have been that woman. If you truly want to know who I am, what I believe, how I live, this is the story that will tell you more than any long lost, out of context kindling a coward on the internet might use. This is who I am.
Orthodoxy came to me through a poet on the road when I was bleeding. Orthodoxy is the heavy wool blanket that puts out fires set by cowards and yet is still able to wrap around my bleeding, broken, weeping self to keep me warm and safe, sheltered from the rain, sheltered from the storm. Without Orthodoxy, I am cold and alone and unprotected. And that is no way to live.