Be One On Whom Nothing Is Lost
It's one of those nostalgic phrases that I had to repeat to myself over and over again in order to fully appreciate it's weight. The more I said it, the more movement it created. The movement caused a dusty portion of my brain (overrun by cheap media and an illegitimate language) to perk up. Neurons fired, lethargy left, and revelation came. Hallelujah! My name is Jenny Trask and words win me. And Henry won me again with his smart words a few days ago.
Here's what happened.
I found myself pouring over my latest issue of UC Davis's alumni magazine when I read a familiar quote by Henry James, "Be One On Whom Nothing Is Lost." (I like to capitalize every word of this phrase to emphasize each word, and to sort of slow down the pace at which it's read, mostly for me, but perhaps it's helpful for you as well. It's not grammatically adequate, but to make my point, I have chosen to write it this way.)
At first I was swept away by the existential ring of the phrase, "Be One On Whom Nothing Is Lost." It encouraged me again to open wide my eyes and ears in order to behold everything and miss nothing. Something I instinctively like to do anyway. It gave me permission to daydream. To observe my surroundings and then linger there for as long as I'd like. To perhaps open my windows to listen (and experience) the contradiction between the whimsical sounds of the forest and the frenzied chaotic musings of my home where little ones fill every square inch with their sounds. To breathe in the moment and savor every morsel of deliciousness afforded to me by God. To truly celebrate my life. I tucked Mr. James's words away in my heart and carried on, thankful that they've come to me again, reminding me yet again to be myself. To celebrate my journey. To pull back from the knit-picky hum-drum workings of life and to zero in on what pulls on the deepest part of my heart: the beauty of life. The details of my life, others lives, the mechanics of life in general, be they pretty and peaceful, or dark and disheartening. His words were a pat on the back. A wink and a nod of encouragement to pursue experiencing life, and to write about it because I've earned the right to do so through experience. I've earned the right. That's a big deal. I've lived something and get to process it, or I've witnessed something and get to re-tell it, be it celebratory or mournful. This is a privilege. This is life-giving. This is a gift.
But, then today happened, and with it, new meaning to this timeless phrase. I found myself feeling, for lack of a better word, indignant about something, and noticed that more than anything I'd like to use my words to express my disdain and general dissatisfaction with someone, but I knew that it would be wrong to do so, and I was unhappy at the wrongness of using my words. So, in true Jenny Trask fashion I took it out on my bathrooms. I scrubbed and scrubbed, and while doing so I engaged in a mid-paragraph debate with Jesus. It's what I do. No formalities, just mid-sentence/mid-paragraph business. He gets me. We talk. I was carrying on and on, maybe arguing just a little, when He stopped me. And this phrase found me again, "Be One On Whom Nothing Is Lost," only this time without any kind of whimsy attached to it. It came polished and clean, and cold, just like the concrete floor I was standing on. It stung for a minute, but then came relief.
"Be One On Whom Nothing Is Lost." Again, "Be One On Whom Nothing Is Lost." I paused. I understood that even when I am mistreated I must remain one on whom nothing is lost. I must hand my hurt over to my King and grow from the pain set before me. Humility is the high road, and sometimes silence is supreme. In this case it was, and I knew it. Justice comes from God. The gain I received from dying on the inside today was more valuable than what I would've received by misusing my words, and tearing someone else down. I might have lost this battle had I acted the way I wanted so strongly to act, but Jesus and Henry James reminded me that it is more courageous to be one on whom nothing is lost, rather than to lose through flippant disregard for right and wrong. I will savor the good and bad, easy and difficult, and every degree in between. I will do my best to be one on whom nothing is lost, and I pray I can teach my children to do the same.