the accumulation of deterioration
The sign above is just a variation on a theme here on my blog. But now, something emerges from the accumulation that is new.
I wanted to call this post “notes from the fallen world,” but feel timid about using theological language. A degree in theology didn’t make me notice the falleness of the world more than I had before, but it gave it a name and a narrative, and acted as a preventative as well. What I mean is, thanks to my teachers, I can not romanticize my faith, or the way that grace may be working in my surroundings, considering what it has to work with. Nor can I blind myself to grim realities. I can only hope that grace is in fact working, even violently if need be, as Flannery O’Connor shows so truly. And then there is the voice of Fr. Thomas Hopko, hammering a hundred variations on a single theme: ladies and gentlemen, we live in a fallen world. Apparently, that theme finally lodged itself securely in someone’s brain.
My hands have been doing dirty work this weekend, accomplishing tasks put off because they are a pain. We took a year’s worth of cardboard boxes and paper to the recycling center. We vacuumed and cleaned out our car, took four loads of laundry to the laundry mat, and installed a window air conditioner in our bedroom window. This blog is not a diary about my life, but I mention these things in order to wax thoughtful. They put me in touch with a non-negotiable aspect of life in this world, and that is: the constant maintenance and upkeep required of its true participants. If you choose not to participate, neglect the tasks out of laziness, they will come back swiftly to kick you in the butt (I believe that is in Proverbs). And despite the energy we invest, things keep deteriorating, like the above sign advertising a has-been car wash. The car wash is long abandoned and rusted over, as are, no doubt, the cars that once patronized it, whose owners dutifully washed, and washed, and washed their doomed possession.
On the way to the South Bend recycling center you must pass the abandoned Studebaker factory which looks as if its once-tender innards were torn apart by wild teeth. Fiberglas insulation unstuffs itself from every orifice, and various piles on the property are like giant sculptures of someone’s mutilated paper napkin, saturated with orange pizza grease–little shreds of rusted steel parts. What is going to happen to all of those materials disassembling themselves into dirty, untouchable chaos?
What happens to things we throw away? I am plagued by this question but too busy/lazy keeping deterioration at bay in my own living space to educate myself to the level of a bonified environmentalist. Dirty dishes, bathroom mold, dust bunnies tethered together with my own stray hairs, and old shoes that may or may not need to go to Goodwill, depending on a hypothetical future situation in which they may come in handy. Goodwill…yet another depressing bastion of castaway crap. And speaking of depression, I am vulnerable to it. At certain moments, the sight of the Studebaker factory or the dust bunny in the hallway can trigger equally sizeable feelings of despair inside me. But I try to keep doing my chores and thus avoid falling into it. I fight the good fight.