Waiting for rescue. For many years now, I’ve been hoping for it. It goes back to my first professional job at Nashotah House, perhaps earlier. Particularly late in the game, I found myself wondering when I might be rescued from that difficult situation. The teaching and research I loved, but the context was brutal. The hoped for salvation never came. Since those days the wishes have swung around to a steady job in a field I love. One for which I trained. The feeling arises particularly on weekends. Often busier than even workdays, I nevertheless sense an almost gothic freedom to them, and Monday rolls around again reminding me that salvation never came. Things are still the same. Now, I don’t just sit around waiting for rescue. I throw out all kinds of lines. I shout and squirm and try to make myself known. The ocean is large, however, and my voice is small.
Perhaps this sense is a natural outgrowth of being raised in a religion that emphasized personal salvation. The sudden conversion experience. It was easy to believe things could change rapidly for the better. Science, particularly uniformitarianism, tells us that the same slow processes always hold. Solomon was right after all—there’s nothing new under the sun. At least nothing that we couldn’t see coming for a good, long time. Out here the horizon stretches ever so far in every direction. Religions realize the problems with this sameness. They give us sacred times and sacred spaces. (The latter of which, however, the pandemic has forced online.)
Rescues that evolve can take many years to reach effective strength. As a child I recall anticipating the rescue of adult respectability. When I grew up people would listen to me because I was an adult. For a brief while that was the case when I stood in the classroom and some students came because they wanted to learn. I learned from them, and they, I hope, learned from me. Perhaps this situation arises less among those raised in stable, middle-class families. Perhaps they don’t sense the constant wolf pacing outside the door. Maybe salvation is primarily for the poor. Whoever it’s for and whencever it comes, the feeling has been with me for decades. Rescue, it seems, is a construct we badly need. At least on a philosophical level. The pandemic has leveled our concept of time to a stifling sameness. I’m prepared. I’ve been waiting for rescue for as long as I can remember. Then Monday rolls around again.