Karissa begins her chapter in a bathroom stall of a movie theater. Something about the movie she was watching, Tree of Life, connected with the accidental death of her brother and she had to escape. She writes that a woman came into the bathroom, heard crying, and asked if she was okay. After Karissa mentioned her brother, she received a sympathetic cliche and declined the offer to come out for a hug from the stranger.
I can’t imagine the pain of losing a sibling. Her brother was only seventeen. He was riding a motorcycle and lost his life against someone’s windshield. It’s a common thread among people who have lost someone to be uncomforted by the verbal stumbling of people who can’t find the right words to show their sympathy. The woman in the bathroom was no exception.
Different religious denominations have their own language, sayings, traditions, and rituals. They do and say certain things at certain times, and only those within that section of the subculture know what is going on. The bulk of Karissa’s chapter speaks to those who are familiar with her particular religious subculture. She mentions some of the rituals, describing the comfort she got from them.
“We sing [The Paschal Hymn] at Pascha, we hold our blazing candles high in the air. We shout it, announce it like believe it, like we know it’s true. We are so drunk on Christ’s resurrection that we laugh ecstatically, then we cry a little, then we laugh again” (page 104).
As I read, I was aware of the likelihood that these gave her structure and a sense of control in spaces of her life where the pain may have made her feel like she had no control. Despite the illusion of control, she is unable to forgive God for letting her brother die. He was just a kid, so the senselessness of it all is heart breaking. She made her way back to the movie, but sat crying in the dark.
“I’m a lot like Jacob [in Genesis 32] just fightin’ it out all night with God in the middle of the scary dark” (page 106).
When people are in the infected pockets of life, they come across unbalanced, like you could tip them either way and they would tumble. We’re all so different. Situations have meaning for some that carry no sentiment for someone else. But, there is a place for all of it.
As Karissa gives you a glimpse of her fight to hang on to her faith and stay above the water that keeps trying to suck her under, she says she’s trying to hope that God loves. This reader notices that she doesn’t say she’s trying to hope that God loves her.
“In desperation, in my near faithlessness, I still cling to the small hope that he’s real and he loves” (page 106).
Pain that deep doesn’t feel like it was inflicted by someone who loves you. People live in this struggle every day. They “wrestle with God” every day. It’s a journey and Karissa won’t be in this spot forever. You never know what people are going though under the smooth surface of their skin. It’s a good reminder to be patient and kind.
You an find Karissa blogging here.
Lindsey van Niekerk wrote the sixteenth chapter of Soul Bare. I’ll write my thoughts about her chapter, “A Broken Love Story”, next.