Saturday, May 28, 2022

A Mighty Fortress

After the first week of clearly being sick, I’ve felt 95% recovered from the Covid attack, reduced to an occasional mild cough. Yesterday, a clear moment when it felt like the last drop of the virus left my body. Enjoyed a vigorous walk through the park, the first little bit of food shopping I’ve done in two weeks (still masked, though) and the sense of emerging from the fortress my body made against World to deal with the viral battles within. 


The sense of the walls dropping and world pouring in was—and is—at once a great joy and a great sorrow. We are meant to merge with the ten thousand things, to relax the border guard of skin, dismantle the barriers of our separate ego-self, release our Buckingham Palace guards from their stiff duty of no movement and eye-contact and let them dance and smile and sing. Take off the heavy restrictive cloth we swaddle ourselves in, free the body from its confines, free the mind from its defensive dogmas and ideologies, free the heart from the iron cage we have built thinking we are protecting it —and live as we were meant to. With the openness of the young child, the unbridled expression of the jazz musician, the disciplined liberation of the Zen master. Once we taste that level of participation in the world, why would we ever choose to hide in our self-created corner cowering in fear and armed to the teeth?


It turns out that choosing to open the doors to joy also means letting in the sorrow and the pain. As I walked in the park uplifted by flowers, serenaded by crows, happy to see families playing frisbee, I also began to feel some of the pain I had had to shut the door to because I knew it would throw me down at a time when I was already struggling with Covid. There is a timing and a wisdom to the temporary shelters we build for ourselves that is not to be wholly discounted or dismissed. But if those hastily built structures of gathered sticks becomes brick and mortar, iron and steel and the situational protections become lifetime habits and a national style, if God is a mighty fortress designed to keep out anything not encoded in a self-referential and exclusive dogma of fundamentalism, we are in deep trouble. 


And so, though I still don’t know the details and don’t know if I’m ready to, the searing pain and grief of those 18 children and their teacher (teachers?) began to enter. Those are not “other” children, they are my children, they are your children, they are all our children. I listened to a bit of the usual Republican rhetoric trying to look away from the real issue (follow the money!) and suggest “hardening” our schools with armed guards, ballistic blankets, teachers with guns and soon, hey why not, children with guns? (Okay, kids, in your desk you’ll find your notebook, pencil, ruler and handgun. Now let’s go over the procedures.)


Even now, I have to quickly shut the lid that Pandora’s box to keep hope alive, resist the long explanation of everything that is wrong about this and the utter mental derangement of adult humans somehow elected to public office without a background check on their moral standing and capacity to actually think and feel coherently. Like the Republican politician who ran an ad proclaiming “Borders. Babies. Bullets” as his vision— protecting babies from abortion (see George Carlin's comments in yesterday’s post) so they can grow up to shoot bullets at people over the border. Just when you think the bar can’t go any lower, well, it does.


There’s a surprising light rain this morning, perhaps the sky crying from grief at what we’ve become. But from those tears, the earth is refreshed, the plants thrive, the dishes get washed, the showers get taken, the body drinks and all is cleansed. God steps out of the mighty fortress and starts tap dancing down the street singing in the rain. 


Let’s stop hardening and have the courage and wisdom to soften. Let our tears merge with the rain as we dance down the street together.

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