Monday, February 27, 2006

[I finished the poem but don't know its title yet.]

"I have for you many questions,"
but only seek one answer.
Is this a kindred spirit, a fellow-traveller?

"instead I will tell you a secret;"
He bends, and I stand on my toes.
"Heaven is now."

There is but One answer to every question
And I know by your response
that you know it too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Answering my own question.

Some weeks ago I wrote: Here is a question for the ages: do I need to change my situation to fit who I am? Or adapt who I am to the situation I am in?

When I made the post above, the main question on my mind was where to look for my next job: here in Chicago, or to chase one in Jackson, Wyoming. Why? Because I was feeling stifled in Chicago. I love the outdoors - for activities, and for just *being*. Chicago is not too outdoorsy.

A third option was suggested by a thoughtful person: Rather than changing the situation or adapting, is it possible to remove one's self from the situation -- to see one's self as above or aloof without vanity?

Yes, it is possible. With some amount of hesitation, trepidation, and uncertainty, weeks later I am here and it is there. My whole life right now is like learning to walk all over again. Except, I am walking already... hesitantly, uncertainly. I'm doing it without understanding, and trying to observe what I am doing so that I can set myself in motion again without being pushed.

Somebody made a comment about controlling ones mood. In my experience, one has to learn the mechanics and execute and execute and execute, deliberately, the mechanics to build a conditioned response, or reflex, or a second nature.

My question assumed a true understanding of my situation - which I didn't have then and probably don't now, though my present perception is clearer.

The problem of the outdoors - I can handle a solo road trip.

The problem of occupation - there are more jobs in the city. There are more things to do, too. Things I am doing, things I want to get back into, things I would like to learn.

The city can be stifling but like anything else that can be bad - it can be managed. I found a new method for getting to work, that lets me avoid most of the stifling.

The problem of people - well, that's a newly identified problem. I'm a tough kid and can get through most anything flying solo. Don't know what to do about this one, only that it can't be forced. Statistically speaking my chances are better in the city. I've met two kindred spirits in the last two weeks and that gives me some hope.

The problem of the job: there are more good things than bad about the current one. And I don't have to let the bad things bother me.

Nonetheless, all four firms that I wrote to, would like interviews. Distances: 1400 miles (if I'm in the neighborhood), 20 miles, 6 miles, .5 miles. I've had the middle two, with the last this week and a second interview (for 20mi) this weekend. The 100% response rate is unprecidented and dizzying.

Worrying is counterproductive but I catch myself doing it. Or just fretting and being generally anxious. Catching myself and making myself stop is a good first step. In school it was pointed out that Le Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamps was the benefactor of some stray lines in a sketch...

To answer my own question: first, understand the situation, including yourself. Then, act as necessary. To answer the specific question: I think I will head out there sometime, someplace, to the woods and wilds, to live. I have a sense that the time is not right. This part of the journey isn't over yet.

So for now, I will breathe, watch, wait, and listen. When the time comes, I will act. At least, that's the idea. I still feel very young. But I am, so maybe that's a good thing.

Everything is Illuminated.

Yes, there's a movie by the same name. I think. But it is appropriate, because so many familiar things are now in a different light than before. From strange sayings come deep truths. All hidden out in the open, anyone with eyes can see and anyone with ears can hear.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Something just feels right... or something feels just right. You tell me?

"The magician's laughing, and I've seen Aslan!"

That's about all I know to say...

Reference: C.S.Lewis, someplace in the Chronicles of Narnia, probably The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I believe Lucy Pevensie is the speaker.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It is raining.

God told me once that He was going to rain down His presence and saturate the earth with it.

It is raining.

It has been raining all along.

I just didn't feel it before.

Things are moving.

So I was outside slacklining. Temps made it into the 50s today and now sit at 49; how could I not spend a couple of hours? The atmosphere out there... it was my own temple between those two trees, and could have been anywhere in the world. That fluid. Tangible.

This guy comes up and asks to watch me, we talk a little, he tries to stand up with the right idea, we talk more.

As it turns out... lots of things. A kindred spirit, [a fellow-traveller]. I percieved it, and the things he said confirmed my perceptions. [Notably mentioning the Lama Foundation; who mentions that to a stranger?]

We've met before. In this life. He was working on his car. I drove off, realized I should have asked if he was okay, circled around the block. He was fine. The car he was working on? None but the white Subaru Outback that I admire so much.

I think we could've stood there all night. He lives a couple buildings down. And hopes we'll meet and talk again. So do I, so do I.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Falling Off***

Yesterday was an uncanny meeting of word and life. The first reading at Mass were Leviticus' instructions on how to treat lepers. The Gospel showed how Jesus treated - and healed - a leper. One of the isolated, unclean, outcast. The sermon encouraged each of us to be that healing touch in somebody else's life, reaching out.

An exchange after Mass made me realize how isolated I am. In that moment I realized that I am the leper. Nobody touches me. I mean it physically - nobody touches me. Somebody did.

I still don't understand. Why it happened. My reaction. How shaken I am, still. Stay shaken, o my soul.

It reminds me of one of Travis' stories from church... people ministering to those around them, simply doing what needs to be done, without question or ceremony. It was like that.

I reminds me of something I read. Somebody wrote about the one-inch punch in martial arts, bringing one into contact with a part of them they are not accustomed to. When I read the account, I thought that I would welcome the experience. (My, I am an odd duck.) And it was like that.

Would I welcome it again? Yes. I'm shaken to the core, I don't understand what I am feeling, but I know it is true, and I welcome that, no matter what it does to my perception.

Sometimes a look can catch me unexpectedly and knock me over inside. I tend to be internally set to recieve on all channels, soaking in everything. The unexpected aspect is what throws me. It was like that.

So what was so deeply disturbing wasn't what happened, or even my unpreparedness. It put me in touch with my desparate loneliness, and that shook me up pretty badly.

For spiritual health, people need to connect with those around them, and this brought my isolation to the forefront. It's bleeding me slowly from the inside. I know it. Most of the time I don't feel the pain.

I have this feeling, a physical feeling, of struggling to reach out, to connect to reality, and I feel as though my heart will burst with the urgency of it, as though I am barely containing a supernova in my body.** Am I alone in that feeling? I know, I know, I know that I am already there, there is no spoon, I know it is all about changing perception!

In seeking to walk in reality as it is, I realize that I have a long way to go. I have felt very young for the past couple of weeks. I feel younger still. I feel alone in my knowing.* I drift in and out, I know the edge is there but cannot fall off unless I just happen to, I want to die daily (as it is written) but don't know how, only know the will to do so.

I don't buy into the crap about God withdrawing His presence. I just don't. We throw up barriers that skew our perception. He never leaves. If we could do anything at all to separate God from us, then He would not be as strong as advertised!

But, knowing God is with me is a far cry from percieving and walking in it. No matter what I feel, God is with me. God is with me. I keep telling myself. God is with me.

*I know I am not alone of all humanity, through my reading. I first learned about the things named as centering, meditation, mysticism, contemplation, through direct experience, not knowing they were named, or written about - because by God's grace I experienced them without the burden of labels. It's possible that my experience is in that regard unique. That beginning is probably why I have such difficulty verbalizing these things experienced beyond the conventional senses, and my will do to so drove a few away, who were frightened of it's radical departure from religion's prescribed path. It was months later as I read more, that by happenchance I connected to (mostly Catholic) writers who put these things into words.

**I have felt it before, praying, when it seemed that nothing could be enough. One time it was with the other XA leaders, and Jerard reached out and embraced me. Can You hear the holy roar?

***Incidentally, this post shares its title with a book of poems by Kathleen Norris. I don't have the book, but am reading The Virgin of Bennington at the moment. I don't mean the title as she did, but it still seems apropos.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why do people get so upset about global warming?

There is conflicting research on whether so-called global warming is part of a natural trend or whether it is a man-made cataclysmic event. The facts aren't settled, but some people have no less than a religious furor over it, and incredibly judgemental disdain and belligerence for those of a different opinion.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

I don't know enough to be convinced of either side, and don't think that we really have enough data to understand the big picture with certainty. (I am more inclined to think it's part of a larger trend.) However, I don't need to "know" whether "global warming" is natural, caused my humans, or some of both, to argue that it's always good to be more mindful of our impact on the environment, because we can and do destroy it in a lot of ways. Nobody can really argue whether it's better to touch this earth lightly. I think that many people are so zealous that they turn people away from a more important message of stewardship. And that's a loss to their cause.

Randy Jagielo said something in another context entirely, along these lines... Right or wrong, people are going to do what they're going to do, and right or wrong they'll do it whether you get worked up or not, so why not be nice and hope they stick around and come around to your choice of behavior, if not your view.

I'd like to add summaries of research, with links, later... as always, you hear something enough times it becomes true, whether it is or not.

Back to work. I get appreciated for thinking clearly, but paid to get stuff done.