I went out with my camera for the first time in weeks yesterday. I was off my weed-photography game. I'd miscalculated the amount of residual snow I would encounter and forgotten my hat. I did have more than enough bug spray in case I should happen upon a swarm of mutant Arctic killer mosquitos. I knew the slush would quickly seep through my vegan knock-off Uggs, and that any self-respecting hobo would reject the filthy watch cap that I fished out of my trunk, but I struck out anyway, cap and all. My soul has been Trans-Novemberish of late, and absent shipping out on an accursed whaler, I needed some lens time with the woods.
I went to a local Audubon sanctuary, hoping that, because of the early hour and the snow, it would be deserted. I stopped and listened. The stillness was broken by the appetitive screeches of not-so-distant children, their outside voices cranked up to 11. Small animals were quaking in their burrows, and, in the mud at the bottom of Turtle pond, hibernations were ending prematurely. Soon a puffy blue snowsuit, appeared, waddling up the hill beside its father. I plunged into the bushes, for my sake and its: my recent misanthropy would break a Geiger counter and likely scar a child for life.
I found plenty of material to be the objective correlative of my metaphysical state -- a dead log shingled with fungi, leaves with shattered panes, a disemboweling branch. I was carrying more than my camera with me into the woods. My socks were getting wetter and wetter, my feet colder and colder, and my right great toe (which I'd likely cracked two weeks prior kicking a door in a paroxysm of frustration and rage) was beginning to throb. This was the same sanctuary that, seven years ago, had inspired quite a different meditation.
Where had that pious creature gone ?
I confess: this week, as an homage to the upcoming Papal conclave, I undressed the whole College of Cardinals. I stripped every last one of them of cassock, cap, cape and cummerbund and airlifted them to Fitchburg, Massachusetts
where I issued each new vestments, and sat them outside the local MacDonald's.
I've come a long way from the Tom Merton fangirl that wrote
Christ is the counterweight. Christ is the Word that utters God and the Word that God utters, the Mystery of Mysteries, the Holy Ground of Being. The scandalously particular Word -- that one Man, in that desert place at that point in history -- that echoes, compassionately, our own scandalous particularity, our own thrownness into this body at this place at this point in time. In the Eucharist, in communion we become part of the Body of Christ. We participate in the unfathomable Mystery of Being, we participate in God.
So, as homage to no one and nothing in particular, I shall airlift the unfathomable mystery of being to the woods, where I will strip it of metaphor and meaning, of capital letters and the trappings of history, and restore it to its pristine, scandalous and transient particularity.
It's the best I can do. Sede vacante.