Monday, May 17, 2010


Looking up at last from the tasks at hand, I feel the old bracing dislocation of coming to -- to what ? A self that has been so engrossed in those tasks that it has forgotten itself, and seems for a second newborn, blank and strange. What to call that ? Depersonalization ? A touch of the divine ? Or simply a neurological frisson, a whiff of vertigo ?

Cue the old bit of Neruda -- a veces me canso de ser hombre. And yes, there is a bit of weariness at being human, as if there were anything else to be, that afflicts me these days. An ennui, a jadedness, a luxury of which I should, by rights, be ashamed. I have spent too little time in the woods this spring. I have spent too little time alone. If there is a thing one can call a "spiritual life," mine is in vast and comic disarray. Or is that cosmic disarray ?

Exhibit A: I am driving to work, listening to a lecture about faith. The speaker, an Australian nun and academic, says God loves you ! God is crazy about you ! I wince, sigh: this concept is the heart of the whole Christian project, and yet it makes no sense to me, exasperates me; I want to take the phrase and scramble the letters and sprinkle them like compost over a field of wheat and weeds. I want to seize the nun by her wimple and exclaim, "Be more apophatic !"

Except that she was probably not wearing a wimple, being a modern, academic nun downloaded from iTunes into my iPod. She was likely a nun fluent in the language of strategic planning, mission and vision statements, rhetoric even more exasperating than the anthropomorphic excesses provoked by the Godhead.

In such Novembers of the soul, Ishmael took to sea; I push the hefty catechisms, histories and theologies under the bed, and take to the woods with my camera, a small volume of Zen poems in my back pocket. Wish me luck.

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