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Sunday, December 5, 2010

East of Eden LIII -- chpt53: LOVE&TIMSHEL

Lee is quite the little homemaker.  His awaiting Abra reminds me a lot of my mother awaiting the return home of a loved one after a long time away, only Lee, quite unlike my mother, receives for the first time in his life a display of affection.  And "awaiting" is such a passive word.  My mom and Lee are anything but passive (speaking physically, at least; Lee's moral passivity still bothers me sometimes).

As Adam is progressively sickening, Lee's love radiates further and absorbs all his employer's ills, and Lee advances from his position of helpmeet (already an advancement from hired servant) to caregiver.  Why does he do it?  You might say that he does do it and doesn't do it because it's his job.  It is no longer because of his status as family employee that he tends Adam, the boys, and, as much as he is able, Abra, but because it is his job as a loved one--as a member of the family.  I believe that in this chapter, Lee has truly realized his ambition to have this family as his own.

Need additional evidence, watch how Lee speaks with Cal.  Watch how he observes Cal, Adam, Aron, and Abra.  There is so much tenderness and love in this man.  And though he might prefer it otherwise, he is utterly incapable of solving this family's troubles.  Not because he is not the father--the blood father.  Not because he is only the servant.  But because he is only a man.  I think this is a fascinating point, especially as I participate--as tenderly, lovingly, and attentively as I can--in my own family.  I can't solve my family's troubles, though I crave that ability.  This is the very definition of impotence; while in the context of this book and, I believe, in the context of real life, there is only One with any power--potency--at all.  What we can do--Lee, my wife and me together, Adam, Cal, my kids, whoever--is work with the situations we've got--to choose to do so--and choose to work on them together.  So we do have some power--some very limited (though not at all limiting, as this power has the thrust to elevate us into eternity) power--and that is in the choosing.

Think about it: How often can you hurdle a problem, once that problem's arisen?  How often do you have to slog through its mire?

Of course, there is a measure of difficulties we can avoid by simply making the correct anticipatory choices.  That's timshel.  What else is timshel is that very choosing that I mentioned just sentences ago to deal with your lot lovingly, tenderly, attentively.

Like Lee.  Like Cal and Abra.  Like me, hopefully, and my wife.  And we can only pray that those Arons and Adams out there might do the same--that and do all we can to teach and show and love.


  1. This is an awesome, beautiful post.

    The part about, "only being a man," kind of reminds me of part of why I want to be a pastor. A couple years ago, I did an internship with my pastor, and we would visit people, some of whom knew they were dying, and some who were just elderly and alone. The point is, though, even though we couldn't change their condition, you could tell that they really valued the presence of those there. I think too often we might pray that people get better against all odds when sometimes the best thing that can happen in a difficult situation is just to make sure that they feel our love--and God's love--in the remaining time that they have.

  2. I think it's the communication of love that manages the healing--or at least the healing that counts.


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