Everything Leaks

IMG_3948Everything’s broken.

The roof leaks. The new car pulls to the left. The refrigerator needs repair. The dog ripped up some carpet. The guys who I hired to refinish my bathroom didn’t do what I asked them.

It’s just not right. It’s not perfect–they did the wrong thing, in the wrong way, in the wrong place.

The shop vac has a short; thought it was the switch–turns out it’s the plug.

How many trips to the hardware store?

The long-planned trip to Chicago for the weekend, sabotaged by the stomach flu.

Inconvenienced. Disappointed. Irritated. Frustrated. Sick. Plans shattered.

The roof leaks. The basement leaks. The sink leaks. The three day old dehumidifier leaks.

Everything leaks.

A friend announces on Facebook he’s getting divorced.

He says to the world, “the kids won’t suffer, because both their mom and dad love them.”

We tell ourselves lies that leak.

IMG_3972

Friends are heartbroken and lonely. They feel forgotten, like damaged goods past their usefulness.

All is broken, and everything leaks.

Nothing ever satisfies. Nothing ever fulfills. No one ever understands us. No one ever loves us enough.

These inconveniences, these tragedies, these little deaths–why do they happen?

We sense we are made for happiness, but nothing ever sates us. Nothing ever is “just right.” Nothing ever works without complications. Everything is in a state of entropy.

The author of Ecclesiastes speaks truth:

All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.

IMG_3999If we live in a world that is this way, then why are we so unsatisfied? Why are we frustrated when things break, when we know we live in a world where everything decays? Why are we disappointed when everything leaks, when we live in a world where everything is always falling apart?

Why should we expect anything else, unless we know that there is something else we are made for?

The answer is because we aren’t made for this world. We’re strangers in a strange land, exiles.

Nothing ever satisfies us, but God alone. No one ever fully understands us, but the God who made us, the one who understands us better than we can ever know ourselves, the one who the Church Fathers said is closer to us than we are to ourselves.

When everything leaks, it helps me remember the source of my true happiness.

When everything leaks, I’m reminded of the woman at the well.

When everything leaks, I remember that I can only be satisfied by the Living Water, He who makes all things new.

When nothing is ever “just right,” when I see the pain of those around me, when nothing ever makes me fully content, it’s a reminder of where I belong, and to Whom I belong. It reminds me that it’s a foolish hope to hope that things will ever be fully fixed, just so long as we still live on this leaky, broken world.

Thank God this world is never “just right.” If it was, what man would know his need for the one who made Him, He who is Life and Love itself?

The saints help us remember that when all goes wrong, when all seems to go ill, when our hopes are dashes and our dreams shattered, we need to view these as little deaths, allowed by God to channel us more and more towards Him, like the banks of a river that flows to the sea.

Up North Volume 3 007

When everything leaks, I remember my favorite quote of C. S. Lewis, one I have often quoted before:

If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.

When everything is leaking, the best thing to do is to try our best to fix the leak, and ask other people to help us–and to help them fix their leaks too.

And if you’re in a leaky boat, you should always have a cooler with you too.

The blue link above comes from Ecclesiastes, that heart-wrenching look at the futility mankind often feels enduring the daily existence of life:  “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” Solomon tells us.

There’s another verse I like very much:

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.

Breaking bread with friends with a bottle of wine or beer is proof that “this world’s not half bad.” Even if everything seems to be falling apart around us sometimes, we’re still here, we still have friends who love us, and we have wine to cheer our hearts, and food to sustain us.

But of course, there is more to that verse. We are invited to eat bread and drink wine, in happiness and with a cheerful heart: a foreshadow of the Mass.

The most fulfillment we will ever experience on earth is the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, the gift that is with us until the end of time. The Bread and Wine, the Body and Blood of Love Himself is what sustains us in this broken world.

There is joy in this leaky world, and it’s found in love. Love of God, love of neighbor, and love of ourselves, all which springs from the fountain of love, Love Himself.

I’ll end with a favorite poem of mine, which I first read in the book A Severe Mercy, inspired by the death of the author’s wife, mutual friends of the author of the poem:

If Everything Is Lost

If everything is lost, thanks be to God
If I must see it go, watch it go,
Watch it fade away, die
Thanks be to God that He is all I have
And if I have Him not, I have nothing at all
Nothing at all, only a farewell to the wind
Farewell to the grey sky
Goodbye, God be with you evening October skye.
If all is lost, thanks be to God
For He is He, and I, I am only I.

– Dom Julian, OSB

 

Up North Volume 2 459A note about the photos: these are all photos I took in northern Michigan. The decrepit buildings are all in Calumet, MI. I’m intrigued by the decay of the city that once was almost the capitol of Michigan. I have family history there–my great grandfather worked as a timberman in the copper mines there. The last photo is a picture on Lake Michigan.

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24 thoughts on “Everything Leaks

  1. I can identify with everything you write.

    Yes, everything in the world often gets messed up, but I was still disappointed when I tried to tape your “Life on the Rock” show, and EWTN put something else in its place (the end of a Holy Mass; some short prayers, talks from priests re: vocations, and a 1960’s Fr. Peyton video on the Visitation.)

  2. Great article!! Thank you for the reminder. You are spot on. Jesus reminds us as well in John 15:18 ff that we do not belong to the world and He chose us out of this world. As you said, we are in exile in this valley of tears. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, everything is well. Keep up the good work that you are doing. God bless!

  3. Fantastic post, Dan, and great visuals for your narrative. 

    I discerned out of the monastery.  I’m not fully self-possessed (or self-possessed sufficiently) to make an authentic donation of myself in the vows.  I have more internal work to do before / if I return to Belmont Abbey.  Hope you’re bearing up well.

    Your Courage brother in Christ,

    Jeron

  4. Impressive photos. Interesting thoughts. The world disappoints us. And God disappoints us too, because we assess God based on our desires for our world. If God is to satisfy us, we must assess Him in a way other than the world. What is that? Good question.

  5. I like the pictures too – and this is a great post that applies to just about every Christian at one time or other. I am re-reading “Abandonment to Divine Providence” and your post reminded me of many passages of that book where the author talks about “turning lemons into lemonade” so to speak by accepting joyfully what the Lord sends us, however difficult it might be. I also found the book on youtube (of all places) if anybody wants to listen to it.
    ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE

  6. Going through separation from my partner of 14 years, who is declining from alcoholism. Hearing about a new fight going on between my landlord and his new wife. Miss my pets, who are with my partner. Yeah, seems like the whole world is crazy! This is my purgatory. Jesus told St. Faustina that he needed her to help him save souls. I pray with all my heart that he will use this suffering to save souls, including my partner.

    • He will! He will! Be assured of that! Your suffering is not in vain, and I have often thought that for those of us who shared our lives with partners for a time, there is no greater love than to offer up the suffering we might endure on behalf of the salvation of those we once shared our lives with. God bless you Alan–your suffering is not in vain!

  7. I never cease to marvel at the wonderfully diverse fare you offer your readers. Clear-headed reason alongside gut-wrenchingly honest self-disclosure, the greatest of minds in theology and the the most good and noble in literature, and now this poetic prose with accompanying photographic art. No doubt that God has been preparing you your whole life with a very unique set of talents and interests to be the gift that you are now for His people.

    (Where in northern Michigan are those beach photos? Looks to me like the shores of Lake Michigan on the “Up North” on the lower peninsula.)

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