Saturday, March 30, 2013


Burrowing into the Lenten snowbank in which you find yourself fallen facedown is, after all, a losing proposition. When your cold and comfortable deathmask dribbles off into the watertable and your cheek hits pebbly mud and leafmold,  it's time to get up and move on. Off in the distance, on the far horizon, something is being enacted. Re-enacted, actually: the shapes are familiar -- palm, thorn, crux, tomb. There are old songs on the rising and falling wind, square notes and round notes like the tight buds studding the branches overhead. 

It's a perfect time for a farewell walk in the woods -- farewell to snow, to cold, to winter. Farewell to the congenial death and dying of the weeds. Something new is preparing itself, and the old is shucking you off, turning its face to the wall, asking to be left alone. But don't let farewell bleed too swiftly into hello. These things can't be rushed.

Bear with me, something mutters. And I shall bear with you.

Deal, you mutter back, knowing full well you or it might be talking to your- or it- self.

You glance, again, at the busy horizon. You feel a twitching in your feet, as if they were preparing to carry you toward it, toward your old place in the play, just as a pianist might feel their fingers twitch when they hear the old, long-woodshedded piece being played in a room high above the street. You've seen her -- under the lamp of the dark, deserted street, she pulls the tattered paper keyboard from a pocket, unfolds it, flattens it on the curb, and squats in the gutter. You've seen her cold fingers running up and down the paper keys. You've seen the long shadow of the preacher falling over her hunched figure, nudging her toward the busy horizon, intoning hymns in several tongues and keys --

Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

Thank you for sharing, spiritual but not religious sunset person.

"Holy solitaries" is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness.

... the great Western heresy -- that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. ... That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being. 

What about that old Sufi tale, you think, headed toward the vallombrosa where the horizons are as tall and vine-and-branch tangled as rood screens, the tale in which the fool is searching for the lost key under the streetlamp because it's brightest there --

because it's bright, and key-strewn, and everyone else is there, in the spotlight, on the stage, entering once again the old, bloody story about how God became man, an atoning sacrifice, a resurrection, and everybody loves a happy ending, a message of hope and redemption, the triumph of the human and holy spirit --

-- except that, over the door that your lost key surely unlocks, is that most hopeful, unhomely and queerly and harshly loving of all warnings --

Lose hope all who enter here.

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