"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

What happens next?

For some time following my last post eight months ago, I meant to post my 50-mile playlist. But I never did.  I have thought of reconfiguring this forum in various ways for various purposes and did not do that either. Do I want a consistent narrative thread? An underlying theme? A greater agenda? A semi-public diary? A window? An audience? I am looking for a point, but there are so many points. I have sung this Yusuf/Cat Stevens song I don't know how many times and I wonder if I've ever done what "I" say I'm doing when I sing it. I can't say for him whether it was just a pretty lyric or if he really did what he says he is doing in the song, either. What if listening to "The Wind" of your soul actually blows you away to a place where people think you have lost your mind? What if you are carried off by the wind to change your name and nobody recognizes you, and people speak of you as if you had died, and resent you for ceasing to give them what you gave them before and they want more of, as if it were a debt you had to pay to society all the rest of your days?

I talked to a Zen priest some months ago. I was not presenting myself that day in the kind of package I would have wanted to present to someone I'd never met, let alone a Zen priest. I was all over the place, running ahead and falling behind and explaining everything in the wrong order. I told her I wanted to go to seminary to be a Unitarian Universalist minister and she said 'do you believe in God?' and I was startled because that is not a question I expected a Zen priest to ask. She said 'how do you know you want to be a Unitarian minister. Maybe you want to be a Zen priest. You should sit with this for a year.'

I have thought about that meeting a lot. I didn't take the advice. I have a patience paradox - some difficult situations and people I can sit with for a long, long time. I ran for 11 hours and 14 minutes last April 9th and finished the course without even throwing up at the end. But ask me to sit on an impulse for more than a week and I am like the rich young man who went away sorrowing after Jesus told him all he needed to do to enter the kingdom of heaven was give away everything he had to the poor. What kind of messed up thing was that to say to a rich kid?

Dear God, please don't ask me to sit. Unless you have a cookie. 

Maybe there is more to that story, though.  The rich young man went away sad because he ostensibly was too attached to his wealth. But what if, later, he thought more about that advice he couldn't take, and the impulse that led him to ask in the first place returned, and his curiosity increased proportionately to a weariness of his burdensome status quo, and he started giving his wealth away, here and there...until eventually he could see through to the other side of it. And lo, the kingdom of heaven was at hand, not anywhere else. Not after graduation, not after parole, not after retirement, not after finding true love (in no particular order of importance).

1 comment:

Alice said...

Not quite as good as an in-person concert, but still pretty good...

I like when you post, random narrative and all.

It's almost like having you around for a few minutes. :)