Posts Tagged ‘ There’s a God in My Soup ’

Days Like Doors

2010.12.26
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THERE ARE DAYS WHICH OPEN into unglimpsed circles that inspire and uplift.
And there are days which close the heart like a fist.
There are days when the angels sing within range of human ear
And days when all you hear is chopping.
There are days like green hills, a-prance with lambs,
And days like rotting undergrowth a-stench with mold and maggot.
All these days are given unto you,
like gloves God wears when He’s fixing something special
like small wandering children seeking a hand in the dark
like the door that opens into silence and light.

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“What A Time We Might Have Had”

2010.12.24
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THE TITLE IS TAKEN FROM a line in Mark Twain’s Roughing It, and it always comes to mind when I hear someone (or myself) voice a regret. I don’t carry many of these — not out of “holiness;” it just doesn’t occur to me — and I only say it out loud whenever Ann regrets something trivial: “That Twilight Zone episode was on last night” or “The store was out of Brand X” or even “Looks like they’re not repealing the Patriot Act.” It’s part of the private language of married people who’ve been married long enough to know and willingly co-conspire with each other’s zigs, zags and wild-eyed lunacies.

Knowing the right thing to say is an art, although less so than knowing what not to say. Speech is a gamble — speech during a crisis more so. I was once on a wooden boat which was about to be hit by a much, MUCH bigger freighter and actually found myself saying, “You know? It really has been good knowing you all.” It seemed appropriate at the time, and still does in memory, but I wasn’t trying to be witty. “Wit” sometimes backfires; in my youth, I once repeated to an arriving roommate a phone message containing a racial slur about the man right behind him. (Did I say “wit?” Meant “twit.” Among the other lessons learned: There is no convenient trap door anywhere.)

But sometimes the “time we might have had” is too good to ignore. I’m specifically thinking of this tonight, which is Christmas Eve for Christians and Erev Shabbat for Jews. Adding Eid would be wondrously ecumenicalendrical. (Since Islam uses a purely lunar calendar, it could still conceivably happen.) Billions of the world’s faithful could sit apart together, munching ham, chicken and lamb, and wondering what the other fellow’s up to. Braver, more moneyed souls could host Shabbeidmas parties and try not to look uncomfortable. Songs and laughter and happy curiosity could rule the day, and perhaps the days after.

What a time we might yet have.

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Warning-Label Zen

2010.12.13
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Fig. 1.



Fig. 1.



Fig. 1.

(If you’re seeing this on the front page, click the title for the entire post. And many thanks to http://www.warninglabelgenerator.com/!)

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A Thought On The “Singularity”

2010.12.12
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HAVING AWAITED (INSERT PIVOTAL WORLD catalyst here) since I was, at least, 15, I’d like to offer the observation that the Singularity (and similar event-horizons) may be more profitably treated as analogous to the speed of light — infinitely approachable, never attainable — for as long as someone still has to take out the %$#@!ing garbage.
____
(Or … maybe “in” the Singularity, we’ll finally share the task equally; an ethical compulsion through wholistic understanding. Since the whole point of the Singularity is unpredictable difference from everything which came before, I’ll just place my order right here and now.)

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I Never Metaphysician I Didn’t Like

2010.12.03
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HOLDING A PLANET IN YOUR belly may not sound easy — or perhaps even possible — but it is also supremely satisfying in ways that are still becoming evident.

Put another way, it occurs to me that, following Wednesday’s decloseting, I should drop at least a note about the spiritual/wholistic aspects referenced therein. Today’s bit: Contemplation.
Read more »

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Mindfulness Question

2010.12.02
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EXACTLY WHAT IN YOUR LIFE requires an opinion? And can kneejerk acceptance be as valid a personal evolutionary strategy as kneejerk fulmination?

Contemplating these questions may not make you wiser, but may make you happier. (But there’s no real guarantee of either.)

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Video: “The Monk and the Rabbi”

2010.12.01
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SOUNDS LIKE A SETUP, BUT while the speakers are lighthearted (pun intended) their topic is both serious and joyful. Brother David Steindl-Rast of http://gratefulness.org and Rabbi Lawrence Kushner (http://www.rabbikushner.org/) talk shop: specifically, mysticism and religion, but in accessible terms. (They’re also chatting over dinner.) At just under eight minutes, this video clip is the length of a cup of tea or coffee; while such things are best learned face-to-face, intimate multimedia isn’t a bad second. And since tonight begins the festival of Chanukah, a little more light isn’t bad either.

YOUTUBE: The Monk and the Rabbi

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Metaphysician, Heal Thyself

2010.12.01
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THE TECHNICAL DIAGNOSIS IS “NON-ACUTE bipolar disorder with hypomania,” but — despite the mollifying modifiers — it feels from the inside like a rainbow rollercoaster circuit through hell and paradise.

This objective assessment, this iron collar which chafes, this ongoing test of self-transcendence is mine by genetic inheritance, but was first revealed to me by a psychiatrist in 2003 following the death of, and my subsequent unstoppable grieving for, a 25-year-longtime friend whose fractured passage brought the disorder rather vividly and inescapably to the foreground of my life.

As you may imagine, these are not easy words to write. (And yes, I’m “on meds.”) But I write them a-purpose: not to join the modern bandwagon of professional breastbeaters, but to lend credibility to my accounts of some fairly remarkable experiences with what may “be” “the Divine” and which may be interesting and perhaps instructive. (Or at least entertaining.)

To wit: When I tell you certain things that may sound crazy, I want you to know why I know the difference. I feel compelled to write them not to convince you of their veracity, but because I’ve learned that when a story wants to write itself the wise man sits back and lets it.

That’s not to say my disorder isn’t filtering what I see and say — but it isn’t the only filter, even if it’s taken me a while to see that. As part of my immediate experience, bipolarity has tripped me up, held me back, isolated and deferred me from much of what I live and love. It has given me an almost preternatural cockiness and despair, a mix of intense thrill-seeking and extreme insecurity; it has also taught me brutal self-honesty, finely honed introspection, close observation of myself and others, a distrust of the psychotherapeutic process and authority in general, stronger skepticism (suspended judgment) in general, an acceptance of the transience of mental states, a solid understanding of the biochemical nature of consciousness/awareness, non-attachment to dogmatic thought, and compassion for the confused.

Except for the days spent watching the minute hand spin, it’s not a bad trade. “Depression” is a misleading word; a better term would be “leadening.” Your arms and legs and torso and head feel like separate, unresponsive entities; as a whole, like being trapped in amber. My mania, on the other hand, is of the mild variety: no mad spending or driving sprees, just an intense feeling of enthusiastic urgency, that anything’s possible and all in the next five minutes. (That’s certainly true and handy for starting projects, not so much for completing them — and it sometimes hampers my face-to-face communications.)

But as Ron White would say, “I told you that story so I can tell you this one.” It doesn’t concern extraterrestrial contact, elevation by angels or appointment by God to the elect: just a series of weirdly unifying visions(1) and overwhelming ecstasies, utterly unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced, and in whose wake I find a calm and enwholing clarity of a type scarcely communicable. I can’t explain them, except to say that they fit several models: epiphany, theophany, quasi-epilepsy, right-hemisphere awakening. From the inside, they feel like missing pieces being put back together after a long absence; experiential evidence that I am surrounded by and of a piece with Something transcendentally whole. I hope to write more about this in the coming days.

As my disorder is all-encompassing, so too is my “spirituality,” or “sense of God in the world.” I imagine that it’s had to become that, in that “the spiritual” might also be termed “the unifying.” That’s how it manifests to me, anyway — and it’s how I know, or convince myself, that it’s different from the disorder; even while the disorder itself is spiritually instructive. (I sometimes feel as though everything I see has attached to it a “LEARN ME” tag a la Alice in Wonderland. But this hall of mirrors leads into clarity and out of isolation toward a deep and satisfying happiness.)

I spoke earlier of brutal self-honesty and close observation. I’ve come to believe that without these qualities, the earnest “seeker after God” is likely in for self-delusion of some dangerous sort or another. Even with these qualities, self-delusion is possible; but who knows? Only the arrogant will claim that a glimpse equals a grasp, or that the grasp is firm.

In any case, I hope you find this useful. It has been to me; as though I’ve thrown open a door and let sunshine into a place where there was only must and dust and shadows. I hope that light flows both ways.

_____
(1) I call them that because their main aspect is visual. If they were aural, I’d call them … I don’t know what. “Aurons?” “Audions?” Sounds like something out of Dr. Who.

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One Conversation

2010.11.30
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WE WERE DISCUSSING SYNAGOGUE FUNDRAISERS, and I suggested an egg toss.

E. G., who knows who he is but may not want you to, looked at me with the sad seriousness of the ex-military and first responder. “Eggs aren’t for tossing,” he said. “They’re for eating. It debases us to play with something that half the world is starving for.”

That was ten years ago. To this day, the sight of someone playing with or otherwise wasting their food still makes me itchy inside.

One conversation was all it took to change my mind about something I had never seriously thought through. What will it take to change yours?

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The Unexamined Light Is Not Worth Seeing By

2010.11.29
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WHY DO WE ASSUME THAT “God” is the one who wants or needs worship?

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For The Kids (A Mini Rant On NorCal “Spirituality”)

2010.11.28
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“There’s so many choices here, a man could half-starve before picking breakfast.”
Ol’ Thinkypants

THAT MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY WILL NOT long endure whose members celebrate every festival but their own(1). C’mon people — whatever your tradition is, it got Grandma and Grandpa over here, fed them through wars and afflictions, and kept them and your folks together long enough to produce you. Don’t you want to know their secret? So dust off the shelf, pick up whatever’s yours and have at. It’s yours by right of succession through love, and It only lives in that way when someone qualified is at the controls.

So don’t dabble — delve! and remember what Ol’ Thinkypants says: “Drink deep, or don’t even spit.”

_____
(1) Written after reading one more Sunday-papers account of a ritual-appropriating church and reflecting rather sourly on those Jews who embrace something else due to ignorance of their own. (Informed choice I got no problem with.)

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Listen Up

2010.11.26
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TODAY IS THE NATIONAL DAY of Listening, which, if you hadn’t heard — and I hadn’t until about five minutes ago, which saddens me because it’s such a neat idea and it’s in its third year — is dedicated to exactly that: listening to each other’s stories, and recording (and uploading) them for the curious and unborn.

Our memories are a non-renewable resource: once they’re gone, so is a world. National Day of Listening lets us peek into these other worlds — and maybe better understand our own.

LINK (including a do-it-yourself listening kit): http://nationaldayoflistening.org/

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