Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fear of backwards

Every three months I have to go to the doctor for a "meds check." This is where my blood is drawn and I am weighed and my blood pressure taken. Usually it is the P.A. who comes in, asks me some perfunctory questions about "how I'm doing," and then renews my medication for the next few months.

If I have done well in terms of losing weight, I usually leave feeling pretty good. But lately I've felt the anxiety coming on about this appointment, anxiety that tries to convince me of what think I know: that I haven't had as much progress during the past couple of months as I had prior to my last checkup. That, perhaps, I have even gone a bit backwards.

i hear the sound
of ice melting off
fences \ delicious /
but still carry cold
in my wet socks

Protestant tradition contains this odd (for me) concept of backsliding. The idea is that you make a mistake you might know is wrong, but don't see as a big deal, and before you know it, you have fallen back on old patterns and are far from God. And to a degree, that is what this feeling is like. But there is something else here I can't really describe because I cannot pinpoint a decision or event bringing on this--shall I call it fear?

I can't go back. I've left that place just long enough to remember with horror the feeling of being so lost, so hopeless. I don't know if I can, but I must try to fight to keep what's left of me alive.

Meditating on "The Lord's Prayer," find myself a little baffled by phrases I used to think I comprehended. I don't know, for all my study, what "your kingdom come" means. But I do know, without knowledge, that when it happens, all the rent places, all that is torn and seemingly forever broken in me, will no longer be.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


As I grew up, The Lord's Prayer was recited, not prayed all that much, in church and in private, like a kind of chant or mantra. Thus there were pauses that seem to eradicate or obscure meaning: "thy kingdom come thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." And so in my heart and in my head, I think I unconsciously separated or ran together phrases like a schoolchild trying to finish saying a poem, not to enjoy its essence, but to get the whole thing over with so one can return to one's seat.

But recently, as I trudged through mornings with my usual un-Christlike grudges and fears and anxieties, I found myself slowing this prayer down enough to put together what I suspect Jesus did not mean to be rent asunder: "thy will be done on Earth." Ah, crap. Now I'm in trouble, I thought.

how quickly these arms
disappear after hugging
sunshine and bright clouds
cold rain returns as it must
gloves cover my fighting heart

Today starts another Lent, a time some think of as a season for giving up things. And I have much to shed, to remove. But I've also spent a lot of time in life just giving up. How hard it is to give up anger, jealousy, and hurt. One might see the destruction it does to the soul and mind, and easily drop it like a hot stone. But no. It is, it seems, more natural to hold them it close as one might a teddy bear that needs cleaning.

The command is to love. And I honestly don't like it all of the time. Sometimes I wish Jesus would cut me some slack and say, "I want you to love everybody. But I'll let you keep a list of five people you don't have to act kindly towards or think charitably about." Of course, I have the freedom to keep such a list. I know, because I usually carry one like a stone tablet, etched with my own finger, in my head. Yet even if such a thing did not create a barrier between me and God, as it does, it would be a wall between me and the self I was born to be. And in that place is no happiness, no joy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

This Mental Music

I usually do not listen to music while walking. I am not a nature lover, per se, or an outdoors person. I am more of a get outside person. I want to tune in to sounds of the universe around me. Of course, early morning and late evening one can hear birds calling each other and if there is enough wind, one can catches the tinkling of chimes on porches or leaves clinging to their branches as the world breathes through them. It means also the shoo-thwack of cars overhead when sitting under a bridge.

Perhaps because I have music playing during most of the other activities in my life, I often have it looping in my mind during quiet moments. This week two songs by Adam Again have made their way into my meditations, "Dig" and "River on Fire." Beautiful and dark, like the taste of coffee on a lover's lips,  they speak to the beauty of getting through as fragile beings on this confusing rock of love and hate and apathy.

scent of turned up earth
and lingering diesel fumes
as i run from dusk

Another song that made its way into my thoughts was a hymn I do not think I have heard or sung in years, "Veni, Creator Spiritus": "Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest/And in our souls take up thy rest." Not sure what prompted this to happen now, but I loved this song even before I was a Christian, so I was glad to have it come. I even sang a little.

I don't know if I should think of these things as intrusions or distractions. This mental music certainly keeps me from focusing, in most cases, on the beauty of God's world I cannot see on my computer screen or hear in endless meetings. I have trouble, even with hymns, resting my heart on the words or ideas that calm me, open me to love. Yet these are also part of the playlist of the Almighty, perhaps inviting me to merely shut up and attend to what is before and around my restless mind.