Familiar music blares from my always-too-loud phone. I know what answering will mean. The shield I made this morning during the walk from bed to speaking and have been using all day to protect others from the Death Star I can feel being quietly built inside will be knocked right out of my hands and smashed on the ground. For better or for worse, he is good at destroying. He is also good at other things. I press "ignore." He will wait. Not patiently, but he will wait. I'm not ready yet. I may be when he tries again. He never waits for very long. Even states away, he can feel it when I'm hiding.
I realized early on the path to adulthood that, beyond my beloved father, I knew nothing of the more angular gender. I knew nothing of what it is to think in straight lines... to be trapped in pants... to compete in ways which I never seemed to be able to keep track of... to have responsibility before God that is different from my own... to live on the other side of the coin. I was smart enough to know that I needed to learn. I asked God in simple words, and He answered simply.
Had said answer consented to occupy less space, I might not have noticed him. He might have gotten away simply with internet communication and occasional meetings, but somewhere in there I turned my head, and he was suddenly part of what "family" feels like. Together, we came to better understand other words. He taught me about "protect" and "respect"... taught me in ways you can only learn from a brother...
taught me in ways you can only learn from someone who is willing to tell you when you have become the enemy...
taught me in ways you can only learn when someone turns up when there are lions to fight, bares his teeth, and jumps into the pit with you...
someone who never needs a list of reasons why he should hasten when he hears, "Help," and knows how to never make you feel small for asking...
or feel small at all...
... and it's not because he walked out of a comic book. I have flown at his demons. I know them by name. He and I have also come nearly to blows, as is often the case when fire meets fire and there's just about anything in the vicinity. We are not known for our long fuses, but then again, although we may look nothing alike, bits of our souls seem to be cut from the same cloth. There are times when he smacks the cup out of my hands when I'm trying to hydrate just to see the look on my face, and there are times when I have to push him away because he is standing on the hem of my dress with his big foot while I'm trying to leave the room.
Not on purpose.
But sometimes on purpose.
And sometimes it's really caught on something else, but then I'm one who blames those in her heart first.
Don't make that face. You are, too.
Somewhere in my mind, the thought of the brother God sent me from another family is stitched to the word "community." We like to think of community as something out there, not something in here. We say that we "work in the community," like it's a place and not the corners of our hearts stapled together... or "with the community," like we can work with ourselves. Like you and me are not made of the same elements. Like we could separate, even if we tried. Like turning my back on you isn't turning my back on me which, as it turns out, looks a lot like circles.
Yes, I realize my rambling, but there is something to say about what has happened that has something to do with the way the world smells right now... something about the interchange between woman and man... something about what that has done to so many... something which needs to be laid plain:
There is that which obedience to God protects. There is that which boundaries protect.
Somewhere in my heart there is a love letter to him, one in which I will explain what it feels like to know down deep that I am heard... that my voice is one which speaks... that what is spoken is heard through the filter of respect, a filter created because the voice is mine. Through the mirror of his eyes, I saw parts of myself which were before invisible, parts which he still defends tirelessly, just as tirelessly as I defend his. I will explain in that letter how it feels for the mirror to appear and call for my attention when I think that I may be invisible again... although I suspect that he may already know. I hope that he does...
Somewhere in that letter will come this lesson: Respect makes for love like this, love which doesn't need to go away and hide... all-inclusive love for life and for humanity which rejoices with the chance to read this letter to his wife, to her children, to their children... love which turns into service and fosters the development of others, of groups of others, of a family which comes in a billion different shades of love, love which stands in the sunlight and announces, "This is what community feels like. This is what it feels like to be the human family."
It's what I mean when I ask, "Unite the hearts of Thy servants..."
It's what I mean when I sing, "All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding."
It's what pumps in my heart when it beats, "We all come from God, and unto Him do we return."
I smiled when the phone rang. She saw the picture of his brown face and the face of his daughter on the screen. "Who's that?"