When I was a teenager, ever buoyed by high school, that I was a blossoming writer and editor of the newspaper, and a member of the a cappella choir, I so looked forward to this season– Advent– per the Anglican Communion.
I had a record of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing a gorgeous piece; “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” I played and played it; it sent me into a kind of rapture.
The doors of my mind and heart were swung wide, and I was always the first to suggest we set up the “creche,” the nativity figurines our grandfather had sent us one year. In this way I would try to impart a sense of beauty and mystery to our lives.
I ran across a post about the Christian Advent today that made me think about such things– and that for the past day I’ve been feeling badly about the self-centered angry rant I put up two days ago.
I apologize to the readers of my blog. 100 of you either saw or read my “spew.” I was mortified to see those stats, and struggled to not browbeat myself. Let me graciously thank you for reading me!
In any event, yesterday my malaise gave way to the recognition that I have hardened my heart to Christmas out of embitterment that everyone else has what they want and need and I don’t.
Enter ye olde trick: to remember and meditate upon what a sorry state of affairs the holidays mean for our returning veterans who have been wounded in our wars.
That I have a warm and sunny apartment in which to think about myself…and work out of my self-centeredness and lifelong self-sabotage.
It does seem to me that self-valuation needs to be in place before we have anything to give, or can even be loving and forgiving toward others.
Theologies and mysteries aside, certainly the beautiful dormancies of winter make for time within which to clean up our resentments, all that holds us back from enjoying fullness of being, a transcendant joy we can maintain even in the face of poor health and bad news, as long as we are sentient and open.
But I miss my religion, my faith. I bought wholly back into it, for a number of years, only to have the water run out of it as if out of a punctured car radiator.
When this happened, I took the crucifix off my wall. I stopped projecting/imagining/believing in a Presence of all presences in my life. I was left with me, and the burgeoning belief that with every other species on our planet, we evolved from the accidental collision of one elemental thing with another…
Quantum physics allows for happy accidents such as the coming into being of life and the world; Steven Hawkings explained to me that certain subatomic particles can come into being out of the negative energy, the black holes of the universe.
Yet, because I was steeped in Church teachings and because of some powerful emotional experiences, I know exactly and wholly how it feels to invest oneself in spiritual belief, to believe that God “Himself” is personally concerned with me. For in my darkest hours, I got in touch with the capacity for faith that dwells in each of us, that is part of our evolutionary toolkit- as it promotes community which in turn, promotes survival.
My need for love and for the Divine to be real was so powerful, I was so self-alienated and lost, that I projected, I see now, that love emanated to me from the Cross itself.
I understand now that wanting, wishing, hoping, praying can bring powerful ideas to pass that change our perception of reality.
Communal worship is beautiful and powerful. Ditto sharing a vision of what God is and is not.
The poetry of Genesis is written on my soul. The notion of God coming “unto” humankind is a powerful one. And a human being is a mind, a body, a soul, one thinks– and certainly for artists, an intensity of awareness of…everything, the totality, the great ?.
It still feels heretical for me to divulge that I have experienced the death of traditional faith and a rebirth of another kind and color of belief, an intellectual awakening. To assert that I now view most theologies as dangerous to intellectual freedom, freedom of mind and being, creating a false hierarchy with a Godhead at the top. It is not that man is God, for me, it is that God is Not, at the very least, not knowable, and certainly, non-intervening in mortal life, no matter how emotionally powerful it is to take in the “body and blood of Christ.”
For those rituals, of setting up the Creche and trying to impart a sense of the sacred within a household helmed and perenially profaned by two alcoholic parents, mattered. They kept me going. And therein, lies their great value. How seductive, immutably comforting, the dusk, the luminarios, the crackling pinon fire, the low surrendering voices of the choir.
All of this is to say that yesterday, I capitulated to my inner child’s need for a Christmas, and perhaps the inner adult’s need for it as well. A time of ritual and breaking of bread with the unknowable and with the self. A release of anger and bitterness, especially toward those I regard as holding up our forward movement as a country.
I asked Jack to cut the old lighting off an artificial tree, and I spent an hour or so getting it set up in my window last night. Then I lit a candle, and put on Bach, and resumed my baking.
I am only one marginalized, disabled woman poet living in a town in Colorado; there are many of us who are alone yet have our means of getting by and coping. My cousin wrote comforting words in response to my other post; I am happy for her that she is dug in deep in her spiritual community in Maine. I wish I felt safe in revisiting the issue of my participation in the local Episcopal services– but for reasons earlier mentioned on this blog, I don’t.
Ritual sustains us. Our rooms and their totems, their light. Music–voices as presence. The steeping of mind and heart in the beauty and poetry of the idea of the birth of Christ. Our means of stitching one hour to the next. Our ways of comforting ourselves and putting some love out into the world.
That is what I hope to do across the next few weeks– to be a loving voice, rather than an embittered one. I may fall short, but ultimately the message of the best of all faith traditions is that we human beings are more about love than hate and fear–with this caveat, for me: responsibility for our personal happiness is all on us.