The house we stay in is scarred with life. Wooden floors creak under the weight of evening, long after people have gotten into bed. The sun shines gently on a tabletop bearing up the memory of dozens of meals, countless study sessions. It is a house of industry--of memory. Its inhabitants breath in the air of age (150 years, to be precise) and embrace the discomfort of new. New concepts. New books. New assignments.
New things are a discomfort. I find myself insecure in the face of new skills I am learning this year. I wish I was good at things from the start. Inadequacy rests like a knapsack on my shoulders, and it does not feed my pride. New skills can be fearful sometimes because I will not admit they are new, or that they should be, or that I shouldn't have everything figured out at once.
But over this weekend, new things are also a taste of joy. Ever since getting on a plane flight it has been a blessed kind of new. Walking through a quiet airport long after most people are gone and thinking of Relative Race and the family. Traveling to a home I have never been, this time solo. Here I go to a new coffee shop and taste the cinnamon foam on a chai latte. Listen to Andrew Peterson's Canaan Bound as the sun comes through the window. Wrestle with a child's trauma and the plans of spies in a story.
At night, with pizza and egg rolls on plates in the living room, we shut the lights off and turn on Thor. It is my first Marvel movie. I have not read much mythology. This too is new and somewhat uncomfortable to me. Here, Thor has his hammer and Odin isn't a random god's name in How to Train Your Dragon. Here a mythical tree connects the nine realms to one another.
"It feels pagan," I said to a friend.
She laughs. "Well, that's because it is." But then she went on to talk about Lewis, about how the threads of mythology still reflect the truth of our sin, and how you can trace that Christ's atonement is the missing answer all these stories are looking for. It made sense--that something used by the devil to spread lies still could not divorce from God's greater power to preserve truth--that natural law written on people's hearts.
Mythology may be new and imperfect (mixed, as well, with sweet and epic.) But it is a new thing worth considering and thinking over.
Here in Minneapolis, the first snow floats through the air. The trees are fire and sun, and the football stadium stands in the middle of everything. I have heard it is like the moon--you come back to it eventually. The pulsing heart of the city. Here a little girl plays with her toys on a Saturday morning and watches Kipper on a tiny phone screen. Here a baby speed-reads through a board book, madly flipping pages he has no time to deal with. Here the grownups find cash for laundry and groceries to eat and a way to balance life--or try to.
But here, too, on the weekends, we curl up three on a couch and switch the lights off for Murder on the Orient Express. I read the book years ago--so long that I remembered the ending, but the details of the mystery--who the characters were and why it happened--had gone to the lost memories dump.
Here, I encounter familiar: a historical mystery. But in the mystery, Hercule Poirot himself encounters the new. For him, it is not a joy. It is a grief. A grief of wrestling with his morality, of finding something in his world that does not fit. In the midst of glamorous characters, stunning scenery, and fascinating sets, he wrestles with something that, as my friend so eloquently expressed, has not been part of his world to this point and finds himself vanquished.
For Poirot it is a discomforting conclusion he has never had to face before. For me, it is a joy: experiencing a vivid story with friends who understand it and tell me what they love about it.
The next day I warm up leftover Chinese food (Mongolian beef, cashew chicken, and General Tso's.) and spend lunch with the new yet again--a pair of chopsticks--
smol, happy schuyler
--and Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. This, too, is something I have never read before.
I am grateful for the new things I have experienced this week. The new in stories and the new in life have filled my cup with gladness. But even the new I am not always glad for--this too, will lead eventually to the comfortable familiarity of answers I am glad to finally grasp.