Rich Paxson

I was ten or eleven in the late 1950s when my mother went into the hospital for a week for a pre-scheduled hysterectomy. My parents assigned us tasks to maintain our well-ordered if somewhat rigid home while mom was away. In return for good work, we could choose a reward, and I picked a brand new Sears Silvertone clock radio, which I had long desired.
Mother returned home after a successful, weeklong hospital stay and I got that radio I’d been wanting. Not much later, probably just a day or two, I was depressed. I don’t remember a lot about it, except that it was brief and confusing. I remember sitting and staring on our back porch couch feeling something like a dead weight holding me there silent and downcast. My inner experience was strong enough that the event comes to mind from time to time in my adult life.
Why depression in response to relief from the fear of loss of a parent and the desire for that radio? Because, in my 1950s family, the fear of losing a parent was not discussed, and because I coupled the fear with my strong desire for an unreachable object, the Sears Silvertone radio. When mother was home again, and I got that radio, those closures signalled the end both of fear and of desire. Now, what? As regular routines quickly reestablished themselves, they quashed the freedoms I had experienced during mother’s absence. The intensity of my desire for the radio was reflected in the depth of my let down beginning the moment I put my hand out to make the radio mine.
When I finished writing this story, I heard an unnamed tune in the back of my mind that I began whistling. Eventually, I identified the song as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” http://bit.ly/2adlKTn . This kind of unbidden music can inform, can remind one of hidden or forgotten feelings.
This morning I like to think that just as the song came to me unbidden today, so also Jesus the Forgiving Victim comes to us unbidden. When we are most vulnerable, then we are most able to recognize God’s healing presence in our lives freeing us to repent and live into God’s recovery and renewal by constructing “… something upon which to rejoice” – to quote T. S. Eliot writing in “Ash Wednesday.”