March 29, 2008

I'm in the mood....

It's still not quite as warm as it should be for this time of year, but we're pretending that it's spring anyway. Today we took the kiddos to the Maple Syrup Festival and did a little hiking. I was happy to run into good hipmama friends there too. I've been feeling totally stir crazy, like the rest of Chicago I imagine. It's been one helluva long winter. I'm ready for some new life and really sick of all the deadness, greyness and frozen air. Bring it on, Motha Nature!

March 20, 2008


On some days I have to remind myself that even if I am left totally alone, it does not make me worthless. When your heart pounds out of your chest with the force of an out-of-control Mack truck and you are certain that every drop of blood that once coursed through your veins is now flooding into your brain, which suddenly feels like it has sunk to your feet — and the frantic breaths that you gulp at like a fish out of water come like sharpened steel knives into the most tender recesses that hold all of your hopes and dreams and you wonder if it had all been a lovely delusion — and then between the heaving sobs that pour like a hidden ocean from your eyes, you can only rock yourself back and forth, a motherless infant exposed in the cruel wilderness of heartbreak — then the truly dark thoughts pour into the emptiness that once held your heart: the people who love you aren't going to be there for you in your pain; you'll have to face it alone, feel it alone and you even pray for death because surviving this pain seems like a more gruesome fate by far.

I know that this is a universal experience, and I believe that it is the root of all fear: that we are not good enough and not loved and will be left alone: to feel our pain, and to die.

It stuns me whenever I'm in pain or spiritual turmoil and instead of comfort, I am offered solitude. It's human nature, I know, to run from other people's pain, though we know in our deepest soul that no one ever wants to be alone at such a time. It's very brave to stay there with someone. At times in my life I have experienced all of these roles: betrayer, betrayed, and friend who has both stayed, and run.

Holy Thursday is my favorite "holiday" for this reason. After pouring out all the love he had within him, breaking bread and sharing the cup, then bending to wash the feet of his cherished disciples, Jesus fully experienced all of this human aloneness, abandonment and betrayal. There is nothing more universally human — and in this shared experience lies the opportunity for empathy. Think of Jesus, in spiritual agony literally begging for the cup to be passed from him — yet not my will be done. And where were his friends? Asleep. They couldn't even stay with him for an hour, though he begged for their comfort. When Jesus was arrested, the sheep scattered and Peter himself denied Jesus three times. Betrayed by his closest friends and abandoned in his suffering — only the women of Jerusalem were brave enough to walk with him to Golgotha and stay at his feet, witnessing what must have been unspeakable violence and suffering. So complete was his suffering that he cried out in his last breaths: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

I will likely find myself in tears tonight, as I stay for a time at the foot of the cross, as is my usual practice — wishing I identified most strongly with the women of Jerusalem who stayed, but knowing that I contain in nearly equal parts all of the players of the Passion. I am Jesus, who in a time of suffering, feels totally abandoned and betrayed; I am Judas, who through my own actions betray those who love me with my lack of trust; I am Peter, so consumed by fear that he only knows how to run; I am Simon, who at times has bent to carry the burdens of friends, even to my own detriment; I am Veronica, whose simple kindness in wiping the brow of Jesus teaches me that there is always an opportunity to express empathy; and I am Joseph of Arimathea who would rather attend to things after the fact and not get into the messy horror of it all.

March 15, 2008

Will I see you in heaven?

I can't ignore the importance and depth of the connections that some people share. Sometimes you can see it in people's eyes. And even when our lives change, our circle of friends shifts, our lovers migrate — there is something that will always snap us out of our delusion that we let go or moved on: death. Some soul-bonds transcend it, of that I am certain.
An email made its way back to me today, one that I wrote a few years ago in response to a question that Delle posed about heaven in an online discussion:
The Communists at my work like to tease (and provoke) me every once in awhile by mocking the comcept of heaven, singing an old favorite of theirs: "they'll be pie in the sky when you die..."

And I have to say, I don't know about you all, but I give very little if any thought to heaven or the afterlife on a day-to-day basis. I guess this is where I become a very, very bad catholic. We are taught that this life is not the REAL life, that the real life is awaiting us, the kingdom...

But how can I help but live in anything but the present? Shouldn't I be motivated by other things than rich rewards and "pie in the sky" in how I live my life?

Also, I really, really like the concept of reincarnation. I think I've sort of morphed that belief to be sort of a "purgatory" that we go through until we reach Nirvana, which might be like heaven. I just have the sense that certain relationships that I have in my life are truly timeless, that we have known each other for many lifetimes. Anyone else ever feel that? Maybe we only reach heaven when we've worked out all that we need to work out. So, for me, heaven would be a soul-state of peace and union with the divine. I don't know if I believe that
we'll keep our bodies (though I say it every week in the creed; there's that darn creed again...) but I do believe that there is something significant we're to gain from having a body, that this form we take is important in some way.

Finally, when I was in fourth grade and taking catechism classes for first communion, we were talking about heaven when I suddenly found myself in a theological quandry that I put to the teacher, a former nun. "Say for
example that your father, whom you love dearly, committed a mortal sin for which he was not sorry, did not seek forgiveness for, did not confess, was not forgiven...therefore, he didn't go to heaven. Then how can heaven be
a perfect place if all the people that I love are not there with me?"

Her answer still floors me to this day: "Then you didn't really love him." I was an astute kid, so I knew instantly that she had it all wrong. That may have been my first incidence of questioning church authority, bucking the
system. But it was clear then that she was wrong, or at least I would not accept her answer as truth. I now knew that it was ok to disagree and question what I was taught, that they didn't really have all the answers. I really don't know what happens when I die, but I know that if there's a heaven, love will be there.

Which means everyone will be there.

March 13, 2008

The Emperor has no Clothes

I've been laid up sick (the flu?) for a couple of days now, so of course I have watched hours and hours of coverage of EmperorGate. Now, I'm not a resident of New York, but I certainly did witness the rise of Eliot Spitzer, as the rest of the politically-aware did. I heard the comparisons to Elliot Ness, of course. I watched as he rose quickly to the seat of Governor in NY, -- with one of the highest approval ratings ever. And all over the media, they are asking one question: Why would someone risk it all for tawdry sex?
After all, Mr. Spitzer had a record of being particularly tough on crime -- cracking down on prostitution rings of the sort he'd later (simultaneously?) use himself. There is endless footage of him talking tough about crime.
More and more information is now coming out about the call girl whom he solicited the night he was wiretapped. Twenty-two year old "Kristen" is only 4 years older than Spitzer's oldest daughter (he has three), comes from a abusive broken family, and turned to high-class prostitution as a way out.
I guess what I see is this: Mr. Spitzer rose to power quickly, and therefore felt he deserved what powerful men possess. Even the good guys see women as possessions. And so he possessed — to the tune of $80,000 or more — and became one of the most glaring recent examples of arrogance and hypocrisy in politics. I'm not giving him any kind of pass or excuse here, but I imagine we'll be seeing a continuation of this story as long as we value women only as possessions in our culture.