Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Toward Freedom XXVIII

Stepping Lightly Into the Future

I'm always a little surprised when daylight comes back. Streetlight-moderated darkness slowly gives way to dawn, the moment of change happening but unidentified, and the new flood of light washes across the world outside.
    The future is out there, somewhere. Many futures. In my twenties, I didn't think much about it; I took care of the days, and the months and years took care of themselves. I spontaneously went where interests led me. Sometimes this worked out well, from my point of view, and other times not so well. I remembered the failures.
    Failures accumulate, taking up mental space, each of them a voice talking about what not to do or how not to do it. By the time I was in my forties, I was thinking more in terms of failure analysis than in terms of possibilities. Failures lead to predictions of what not to do, and the path gets narrower. Whatever future is left looks a lot like night, with no possibility of sunrise. Ever.
    God is said to be the light of the world. He is portrayed as a supernova, exploding into the world, actinic, scarifying. The need for change is here, but what change? Oh, yes, a supernova changes everything, blasting the light out of a volume light-years across. If you're a new sprout, you're gone in a flash, ash.
    Where is the space for a sensitive soul in God's new world? For the last few days God has been whispering to me "Don't stomp on the future." Prediction has turned into a dictator, ashing new growth before it even gets a chance. Even doing nothing is better than wearing the dictator's shoes in the new garden. Let things grow. Wait. Let new light gently flow into this nearly sterilized space so that something new can grow and make a home for all those deranged, homeless soul-creatures you've both harbored and punished.
    God cherishes life, in all of its fantastically varied forms. He spreads his arms and light blooms across the flowered expanse, lending life to the delicate and the strong. I am alive. He cherishes me, not as another number as a dictator, but as a living being. His future is better than mine, if strange and therefore frightening. He asks--not demands--for me to hold his hand and walk with him, not on the path that I dictate but on the path that he invites.
    Failure isn't an option because it's impossible. God is patient, and allows this idea to seep slowly into the ravaged garden he planted 61 years ago and that I have mis-tended by trying to tell things how to grow. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, next year, the next moment. Control isn't an illusion, but it is incomplete; some things I choose--whether to write a story or go back to bed--and some things happen. Jazz musicians don't dictate, but respond, and dancers flow with each other through communication going to fast for full perception. Surfers ride waves, each one different within the model of physics that dictates the shape but not the details.
    I fall down, run away, hide. God invites and waits. Gentle light comes to the desert and... who knows? I feel the need to control because surprises have usually been bad, at least in my perception. I get scared. God waits... and continues inviting, with a smile.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


Toward Freedom XXVII

Be Loved

Last week, a friend asked me why I write. "Why do you do sand sculpture, put these things out there for others to see?" Last December, another friend asked me to help her write by giving her assignments and then critiquing what she wrote. In the summer of 2009, a friend suggested that I talk about whatever I wanted to. By the fall of 1994, psychoanalysis was stuck in a series of silent sessions and I soon gave up trying to push words into the quiet. Sometime in 1977 a friend said "You can't really love another person unless you can love yourself." In 1972 I was learning to hear God's voice, but I had a hard time believing that and spent a lot of effort over the next 42 years working on intellectual justification of my life.
    Intellect cannot spin a fine enough net to catch love. Telescopes can't see the bright binder of God's love holding his creation together. Atom smashers don't have the energy to detect God's particular touch that keeps repellent particles from seeking space.
    Force won't end a war, as use of force is met with use of stronger force. A lawn mower will keep all things at the same height, but the uniformity is ugly and the cutting process painful. At the level of the intellect, the soul looks like a field and roughness is a threat. Love is more flexible; who is harmed by having dips and peaks, and free creatures nibbling here and there? There's a thump on my roof as a squirrel lands, after having cut a pine cone off the tree beside the house. Even in this year of drought both tree and squirrel have enough.
    When one's objective is to end a long-running war--40 years is long enough--one gets tired and just wants it done. Look at history. In this case, though, some solutions are worse than the ongoing war because they produce conditions for an even worse war. Peace doesn't live under an iron lid.
    For me, communication is something sneaked out through a door that is, most of the time, closed. If it opens a crack, move fast. Making things is something people do. God spread his hands and galaxies appeared. I go to the beach and stack sand in an act that is qualitatively an echo of the universe's creation, because that's how I'm made. Life is a chemical balancing act in support of the love that sang us all into our very existence. And then I spend most of my life using intellect to keep everything under control.
    Control is what I grew up with. Figure things out, understand, use, produce. Writing is an oddity that I turned to because no one wanted to hear me talk, and few people read well enough to really see the story. Sand sculpture is tolerable because it soon disappears. I can be creative in expressing sensitivity because the works are temporary and go into a world that notices little.
    Ever since October 18, 1971, God has been whispering to me, "Be loved." At first the ground was so hard that nearly all of that water beaded up and rolled off. As I started to soften, I got scared and spent about 30 years becoming harder, and I nearly died--soul, mind, body--in that.
    Being loved is fine, so long as I don't notice it. Being asked to assign and critique some writing requires noticing what my friend really wants, and noticing my reactions to it. This project soon ran aground amidst the intellectual shoals. Yet, understanding is essential. Intellect and heart are also made in God's image and neither can be denied without doing great damage. Picture Jesus standing on the storm-thrashed sea and you'll see balance. He holds me, keeps me from destroying myself, and slowly his spirit interweaves himself through my hardened, imitation-stone, soul, This feels destructive, and it is to the old way, but it also feels lively.
    Truly, all is grace.

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