Sunday, December 25, 2011

Old Cherokee Grandmother

       My maternal grandmother once told me that she had a maternal grandmother (you can throw a "great" or two in there for more accuracy) who was a Cherokee.  I take my grandmother's word for it -- Nana was a sharp little lady under five feet tall who lived an active, caring, giving, and totally unpretentious life for eighty-six years.  I don't think she was ever out to fool me.  But who knows?

      I haven't done enough genealogical research to know the specifics, like names and dates.  But come to think of it, would the old woman have had a birth certificate anywhere?  Was it a common Cherokee custom in the very early 1800's for the father and mother to make a pilgrimage to the county courthouse somewhere in Tennessee (or wherever) to register a birth -- and thus prove to the powers-that-were that the child was a true American?

       Maybe there are baptismal records in some old church somewhere, if the Cherokees were members of an established Church or a pious sect that recorded such things (admittedly important)  -- and then carefully kept and protected those records against all hazards, such as their forcible uprooting and removal to the newly-minted civilized "Indian Nation" about five hundred miles west on the Trail of Tears.

       Come to think of it, did the young woman and her husband have a marriage license?  If they did, would it have been signed by a justice of the peace or a priest, or more likely some old country preacher?  Or was it simply that they got the ceremonial approval of the old chief, and the (hopefully happy) pair headed for the tent, after the manner of Isaac and Rebekah, and did what folks do, Cherokee or white?

       And what kind of man was my old great-something-grandfather, to "take up" with an Indian woman?  Wasn't that a betrayal of his heritage?  Didn't he care that, to the respectable community, his children would be considered b-, b-, well, half-breeds?  Maybe he just didn't know what Chief Justice Roger Taney would later claim to know -- that the American political system was for whites-only -- or maybe he simply knew otherwise.  Or maybe again he just didn't give a tinker's dam.

       Well, they had kids, and they both got old and died, and they've been gone about a hundred and fifty years now.  Where did the Good Lord take them?  Did they end up in a white heaven, or in a happy hunting ground?  I don't know.

       So here I sit, thinking and writing.  Why do I think the way I do?

       Given the continuity of things, I wonder how many of my thoughts are the thoughts of my ancestors before me.  (And of course, it is the nature of ancestry that, if you have one Cherokee ancestor, you have hundreds.  So if I have one Cherokee thought in my body, I might have many.)

       For instance -- I basically like Andrew Jackson.   For one thing, he stood up for some important things.  For another, he stood up against some bad things.   And after all, like everybody else, I'm sure he's something like my twelfth cousin five times removed, and family counts for a lot.

       But still -- how many of great-grandma's people got packed off to Oklahoma, and how many didn't make it, courtesy of President Jackson's federal government and the United States Army?

       Great-grandma, is the US government and the US military all about defending our freedoms?

       To ask the question, honey, is to answer it.

       Now where did that thought come from?

*       *       *

Comments always most welcome.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Bold New Policy for the Zionists

       I'd like to suggest several positive improvements in policy for the Zionist movement, and the government of the State of Israel.

       But I'll restrict myself to only one.  This one is really simple, easy to implement, and will have positive effects immediately.

       Change your national anthem.  "Hatikvah" ("The Hope") is fine, but really, you can do much better.

       Switch to the one posted here: it's a natural upgrade.  (It's what "The Hope" is all about, anyway.)  Music and lyrics have been tested by time.  You can translate it into Hebrew, Yiddish, and Arabic.  Sing it in your synagogues, mosques, and churches.  Sing it on your streets, in your coffee houses, on your hills.  Sing it in Galilee, in Jerusalem, in the Negev.  It's great with full orchestra.  It's great with just guitars.  Even little kids can manage it.

       Lyrics here.  Music at the links below.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel's strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver
Born a Child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.

By Thine own Eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious Throne.

      Let the New Anthem be adopted immediately.  Sing it on all the Feast Days -- Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Purim, Passover, and the rest.  All of them.  It's always great.

      Also great for Ramadan.  Or let it begin at the Feast of the Holy Nativity.  Or today.

      Feel the change!

*       *       *

       Purely instrumental versions here.      

You can find many great adaptations on You Tube. Here, for one.

As always, comments welcome.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

American History Is Historical Fiction

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”   -- Mark Twain

       To my American friends, and to readers of this site from around the world, I shall make two statements that may help to clarify much that seems murky about American political behavior:

       (1)  The history of America that most Americans believe to be true is not history at all:  it is historical fiction.

       (2)  Most Americans have no idea that statement (1) above is true.  They absolutely, honestly believe that what they believe to be true is true.  If they came to believe in statement (1) above, it would completely rock their lives, personal and political.

       One of the central differences between what I would call "real" history and historical fiction is that real history attempts to refer to records (either official or unofficial), documents, testimonies of real people, and other evidentiary material, explaining some of the how's and why's of "what happened"; whereas historical fiction only refers to "real" history as a basis for overlaying an engaging story of whatever interests the author and is calculated to interest the reader.

       Of course, historical fiction can be not only entertaining, but informative.  It is often quite well done.  However, it can do a serious disservice--its fictions can displace or substitute for true knowledge.  A writer of popular novels can turn to historical fiction and create characters more fascinating and inspiring (or more virtuous, or evil, or colorful) than the real people themselves.  And a Hollywood motion picture about an historical event or person has a remarkable ability to influence a receptive and inquisitive mind into believing that "that's the way it really was." This is accomplished by (intentionally or unintentionally) drawing distorted perceptions into the receivers' minds, where they may be permanently labeled as truth -- because they saw it (or read it) with their own eyes.

       Understand that all Americans -- and I do mean all Americans, from schoolchildren to presidents -- when they learn history, first learn it as a "subject," in a school, from a textbook:  this means that there are facts to be memorized; there are also "right answers," just as there are in science and mathematics; and there will be a test, to see how well those "right answers" have been memorized.  If you score well on the test, then you have "done well in history" -- and what is more, you "understand" it "correctly".

       This is not a new phenomenon in America.  I have read old high school history texts as far back as the 1880's, and the same pattern of instruction is used:  there is a highly selective presentation of facts designed to create a coherent and pleasing narrative about the history of America.  It is how we know that we are always basically the "good guys." (Especially our presidents, who are all men with good intentions, even if they made a few mistakes.)   Some scholars have called this "the Whig interpretation of history," and that is probably a useful label to give it.   But let us call it simply "the Received Interpretation."

       I don't know how you do it in your country, but this is really how we do it here, all the way up to introductory history courses in colleges and universities.  It is of great importance in history departments in America that you demonstrate that you have accepted the "correct" point of view and reflect it in your writing  (some variations are approved, of course).  But if you espouse the "discredited" point of view?  No "advancement."

       See the problem?

       I have not studied abroad (so I can't be sure of my ground here), but I gather that there is a similar situation in many countries.  It goes without saying that it would be an overwhelming problem in any country that has a totalitarian or single-party rule, such as Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or the like; but sometimes the problem seems to be very similar, and just about as bad, in countries that think of themselves as the most free-thinking and cosmopolitan, such as Britain with its world-wide empire, or Israel with its sense of exceptionality and vocation as a "light to the nations."  My research into these countries suggests that their "versions of history" are as tendentious and provincial and blinkered as America's.  So I am guessing that this is more or less the case everywhere in the world.  I hope there are glorious exceptions.

       I think this goes a long way in explaining why Americans behave politically in such bizarre and destructive ways.  We are operating from false perceptions that we have received from a falsified script.  From the youngest schoolchildren, all the way up through our elective leadership -- representatives, governors, and presidents -- we have been taught these fictions.  Collectively, we act as if we believe them.

       Only the underworld that actually controls our country, its economy, and its government knows otherwise.  And operates according to that knowledge.

       It may be that things are slightly changing.  I would guess that maybe 5% of the population of America is waking up to question the "Received Interpretation."  This has been forced upon us by our recent economic troubles, and our government's unexplainable response to them.  (Unexplained, that is, by the "Received Interpretation.")

       And this deeper questioning has been reinforced by the results of the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as by Ron Paul's campaign for the presidency and the "Occupy" phenomenon.

       It is too early to say, but we may be about to experience an historic paradigm shift in the thinking of the American people.  It could be a shift for the better.  Or not.

*       *       *

       (If you would like to see how American Historical Fiction affects today's thinkers and writers, check out this bizarro-world posting by Jamie Weinstein.)

Comments most welcome.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sacred

       We know The Sacred.

       It has taken a form within us before we discover it, no matter how old or young we are when that discovery takes place.

       If we discover The Sacred first outside ourselves, we perceive it in some place, or event, or person, as a sort of discovery, often unexpected, and unexpectedly rapid; and we sense a correspondence in the outer to something that is prepared within our own self.

       We then turn inward with new eyes, to perceive what is being disclosed to our inner self.  And when that happens, a new formation occurs.

       If we discover it first within ourselves, then we perceive it as a small place, not too small, a private place where the spirit discloses itself; and it produces within us a certain inner attitude that we might call mindfulness, or reverence.  Inwardly, it is a sort of a bowing, an acknowledgment of something perceptible and significant, but elusive.

       As the holy moment becomes its own memory, we can return outward and find that we now look at the outer world with new eyes, seeing or seeking a correspondence of the same in the outer.  And when that happens, a new formation occurs.

       A trinity of correspondence arises:  between Spirit and Self and Outer, we find an unexpected agreement -- a greeting -- and we find that we have deepened and extended and remembered.

       This is The Sacred, and the knowledge of it.  It is at the heart of all true religion.

*       *       *

Comments always welcome.  (Surely I have not said everything about The Sacred, and our relationship to it, that ought to be said!)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December Fifteen - A Confession

by Justin Adams
Admittedly, most of what I know
and what I think I know
has come to me by books or through screens,
all of which have left a sense of should and ought 
which constrains experience 
to a set of desires and assumptions,
ways of seeing (and of not seeing) 
and of interpreting 
(and not interpreting) only useful
in reassuring myself that I do, in fact, know
by the tricks I have mastered.
And for a time it has seemed reasonable
that the recurring advent of seasons,
the cycles of nature, and observing
lives more dependent upon earthlier gods, 
might serve in my own life as foreshadowing elements, 
much like Romeo's speaking in persistently deathly imagery
or the etymology of the name Abel.
Too long have I pondered a sycamore tree
reaching over streams and bending
upward to fill its own gap in the canopy,
naively asking Why? How is it? What does it mean?
It means nothing. It is no sign, no prophesy
to brace me for any happiness or sorrow
yet to come. No more than a tree
and no less, it stands and lives
only as long as it happens to stand and live.
If in some way I divine sickness coming,
will I not, in its expectation, become sick
even when it does not come?
And will I not despair when forecasted peace
and peace upon peace never arrives
in its foreseen form? Certainly. And certainly,
joy and pain are coming, and are here now. 
But of departures and arrivals, who can say? 
Even the past is not fully known, 
for it was neither seen nor experienced in its entirety.
Sight being limited to its narrowness of focus,
a good man was killed for his unexpectedness.
Knowing the coming good, other men gladly 
and assuredly executed the present good,
citing the comfortable sufficiency of their own readings.
So, I will now go without such comfort,
letting go of other men's hopes.
And here still, weightier things remain despite past evils, 
regardless of future joys. Here is present.

Comments welcome.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Killing The Bill Of Rights On Its Anniversary

The title of this post is the header of an email that I received today from Matt Hawes of the Campaign for Liberty. I post the significant portion of Mr. Hawes' email below.

Today marks the 220th anniversary of the day the Bill of Rights were officially added to the Constitution.

Ironically, the U.S. Senate is set to kill the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments of that Bill of Rights later today.

Last night, the U.S. House approved the Conference Report version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes provisions that would allow the President to throw American citizens in jail and keep them there indefinitely.

The Senate is set to vote on this bill . . . today.

The Bill Of Rights is now legally dead. Yes, 220 years is a pretty good run -- unless you happen to be living on the day it dies.

I am going to try to forbear haranguing anybody about their political preferences, but you need to know that both major-party political establishments are behind this, or it would not be passed with such overwhelming support. Please forgive me if I am silent whenever I hear anybody's future enthusiams about your party in Washington. The Republican and Democrat insiders both favored this. (Because there is only one Inside.) And they have an absolute majority.

Please don't bother telling me how pro-life you are, how pro-Israel, how pro-troops, how above-politics, how respect-the-government, how you can hardly wait for Jesus to come back, how you don't believe in conspiracy theories, how we're-going-to-take-it-back, how anything. Not because your views are wrong, but because they don't matter.

Why don't they matter? Because, actually, there was a significant group of people in Congress who voted against this death warrant, and their views and votes don't matter either.*

It's over, folks.

And it wasn't the "liberals" who destroyed our freedoms, or the "radical Islamists," or "Obama," or the "Occupy" people. Not without the active support of conservatives, neo-conservatives, religious-establishment Christians and Jews, Wall Street, and active and retired military.

This day has come because of entrenched evil in the underworld that has shamelessly seduced our legitimate government. Yes, they have fooled the people; but the people were far too easily fooled. And the people who cared were too few, and too weak.

Do I still love and respect the Constitution? Yes, of course.

Do I have any hope? Yes, but only because I believe in Resurrection. It gives Wendell Berry's advice (given in a slightly different context, but applicable) new importance.

"Practice Resurrection."

* * *
Comment if you care.

* There were 13 Senators who voted against the bill in its final form: 6 Republicans, 6 Democrats, 1 Independent:
NAYs ---13
Cardin (D-MD)
Coburn (R-OK)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Durbin (D-IL)
Franken (D-MN)
Harkin (D-IA)
Lee (R-UT)
Merkley (D-OR)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Sanders (I-VT)
Wyden (D-OR)

Judge Andrew Napolitano has just written an article on this subject. You can read it here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ten Trillion On War

       Twenty years ago, when the Cold War ended in a (fairly) good way with the (relatively) peaceful replacement of the old Soviet Union with a separation into smaller and more independent states, there was talk -- brief talk -- of a Peace Dividend. What we have gotten instead is a perpetual-war economy.

       In the last twenty odd years (no hyphen intended), the World-Wide-Warfare State has hit up the American people for at least ten trillion dollars of war spending.  (And hit up a lot of non-American people with lots of high-tech explosives.)

       If that amount of money had been spent evenly, for the benefit of every one of the three hundred million Americans, on general or personal improvements, that would have amounted to about $33,000 for each man, woman, and child in America, over and above what is now spent on our behalf for highways, medical care, free lunches, social security, welfare, subsidies, and the like.  That's over and above.

       And the current rate of spending adds about $3,000 per person per year.  I've done the math for my family.  How about yours?

       What if we, or our local governments, or even our federal government, had spent all that money, even wastefully, for the benefit of the common people?

       If you are thinking green (as in environment),  do you think we might have had more and better solar power?  Less wasteful oil consumption?  Better-cared-for national parks?  More effective transportation?  Fewer areas of urban blight?  More wildlife?  Better forests and cared-for wetlands?

       If you are thinking green (as in people), do you think we might have had better job opportunities -- things that we could have done for ourselves?  Fewer young people feeling that they have to join the military for reasons of personal economics?  Healthier farms?  Healthier cities?  Healthier people?

       If you are thinking green (as in money), do you think we might have had fewer arms industries but better local production?  Fewer billionaires (hopefully) but a lot more millionaires?  A sounder currency?  A more sustainable economy?

       Are we predestined to be stupid, or do we have a free choice?

       Or is it a government mandate?

       Come to think of it, that is a great question to ask your favorite theologian or politician, whichever you trust the most.

*       *       *

       Yes, this was just off the top of my head, and it shows.  Sorry.  Comments still welcome, pro and con.  Are we predestined to be stupid . . .?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Police States Don't Work-- And Won't Work In The US, Either

       The Twentieth Century, which congratulated itself on its "modernity," whatever that may have meant, was famously noted for its very regressive police states.  But they didn't work.

       The Soviet police state was conceived by the Revolutionary Left; gestated in a matrix of philosophical and practical love of collectivist violence; was enforced upon the Russian people through atrocious acts of fear, violence, and mass terrorism; and reproduced itself into about three generations of wholesale death, wholesale misery, and mental and physical depression.  It spread itself across half of Europe and much of Asia.  Thankfully, the human spirit survived, at least in some people, and the system has largely come apart, especially in those places where it was experienced at its worst.  It did not work, because it could not work.  Finally, the people, and some intelligent leaders of (more or less) good will, succeeded in dismantling it, after 70 years.

       The Nazi police state was developed by the Reactionary Right, apparently as a counter to the Soviet and international revolutionary menace.  On the idea that one must "fight fire with fire," or appealing to darker old pagan individual vices (such as "fear of the Other", and deification of War to alleviate that fear) that temporarily masqueraded as civic virtues, the Nazis embraced the same methods of fear, violence, and mass terrorism. They enhanced these evils with "scientific" techniques and unleashed an efficient war machine on their enemies, following up with police and secret-police brutality on the captives and survivors.  It lasted for about 12 vicious years, and was decisively ended by defeat in war.

       Both of these police states were created by men of great power and subtlety, essentially irreligious and anti-human, believing, or seeming to believe, that Force can substitute for Wisdom and that the human being, body, soul, and spirit, was to be their property, their chattel, the grist for their satanic mills, the means to their great Dystopias.  But in the long run, they did not last.  They could not last.

       Nevertheless, police states have a frequent place in the seamy side of long human history.  The supposed "glories" of most empires, ancient and modern, are often little more than the banners and flags worn to cover the shame of naked greed and war-worship that transmutes into tyranny, slavery, and control.  Open the history books, read, and think.

       Today, interestingly enough, despite the receding of the threat of "revolutionary communism," or  "militant atheism,"  there has been a new resurgence of fresh trust in the police state as a suitable form of national organization; but this new embrace of police state mentality and method comes from a source that surprises me -- that is, from people that imagine themselves to be conventionally and truly religious.  I am speaking of Jews and Christians.

       It amazes me that Jewish sons and daughters of the death-camp experiencers in Europe could be seduced into erecting what is essentially a martial-law police state in the "holy land," in contravention of their bitter experiences, their larger humanitarian impulses and the traditions of their ancient prophets.  But so it is:  ask any thoughtful and honest Palestinian, Arab or Jew.  Whom do they most fear, or alternatively, respect?  The security organs, the military police, and the IDF.  Not their sages, not their factory workers, not their farmers.  Not even their politicians.  No:  it is the men with the uniforms, with the guns, with the "authorization."

       And it amazes me that Christian grandsons and granddaughters of World War II veterans could be seduced into admiring, and desiring, the development of a police state in the "land of the free and the home of the brave," in contravention of our own national ideals and experience.  But so it is.  Ask churchgoers and homeschoolers.  Whom do they admire and support, pray for, and aspire to be?  "The troops," "special ops," and "law enforcement."  Not scientists or doctors, not factory workers or managers, not conservationists, not farmers, not inventors or builders.  Not even politicians.  No:  it is the men (or women) with the uniforms, with the guns, with the "authorization."

       Well, I know these trends didn't begin yesterday -- they have been going on for years; and they are probably not going to be reversed tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.

       But police states don't work.  This gives me both comfort, and pause.

       Comfort, because I know that my great-grand-children are not likely to live in a police state, because police states don't last.  They cannot.

       Pause, because I know that my children and I already live in one, and it is not good today, and it is not going to be good tomorrow or the day after, because police states don't work.  Even though they exist.  And last longer than they should.

       Even in the United States of America.

*       *       *

Your comments are most welcome, pro, con, and otherwise.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Bill of Rights Eviscerated -- What Now?

Guest post by Ben Carmack

Many thanks to my friend Jon Adams for letting me know about the National Defense Authorization Act, a law that Congress is preparing to pass and send to our president for his signature. According to this article from the Huffington Post, the U.S. Senate voted, 38 to 60, to reject an amendment from Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) that would have rolled back a provision of the bill that allows the U.S. military to imprison American citizens indefinitely without charges or trial if they are "suspected of terrorism."

How many hearings would one get if one were charged under this bill? One hearing. And then prison. 

This is disturbing on many levels. The prospect of the "War on Terror" coming to the United States--with fellow citizens, many of them perhaps our Muslim neighbors, being railroaded into prison and "enhanced interrogation," then held indefinitely--is not pleasant. But we can't say we weren't warned about this. We allowed the federal government under the previous administration to persuade us that Muslim terrorists were a grave threat to our country, when reality makes clear that they were not. We bought the fear mongering; now the policies we allowed to be used on foreigners, because "they weren't U.S. citizens" and "not entitled to our Constitutional protections," are now going to be used on us.

Extreme nationalism and hatred of "the other" doesn't work, folks. We're all people. We're all human beings, whether we're American citizens or not. The basic human rights listed in the Bill of Rights are inherent rights of all humans, given to us by a good and just God. Governments do not decree them and hand them down to us, then, when they feel like it, take them away. Our rights continue to exist even if no government acknowledges them. It is our right to insist on our rights and to refuse to acquiesce when governments don't respect our dignity. 

What I am saying comes directly from the Declaration of Independence. What could be more American?

Furthermore, carrying this logic even further, the military's participation in warfare does not purchase our rights or our freedoms. We do not need to thank soldiers for "giving us our freedom." Our freedom is a birthright from God. Governments may not respect our freedoms but we have them nonetheless. I should add that government is never more at odds with God-given freedoms than in time of war. It is especially odd that we should thank the military for our freedoms.

As anyone who has served in the military knows, military leaders do not highly regard freedom, particularly the freedom of "enemy" civilians. According to the more conservative statistics, upwards of 100,000 Iraqi civilians have perished in the Iraq War. Other estimates say upwards of half a million. Many thousands more have died in Afghanistan and Pakistan, several at the hands of drone aircraft, safely operated by computer jockeys in the continental U.S. Do those people think their freedoms are being defended? Wonder why they're not grateful to U.S. soldiers for their freedoms?

This is all part of a pattern. The U.S. military treated German and Japanese civilians the same way during World War II. The U.S. military repeated the pattern in Korea and Vietnam. All of these wars were said to be about freedom. All involved heavy civilian casualties. All involved gigantic increases in government power at home and abroad, power that was not totally reversed when peacetime came again. 

Selling arms to a government at war and making loans to a government at war are highly profitable. You can make a real killing, as they say on Wall Street. The wars continue.

When it was about killing people far away, Americans more or less put up with it. After all, them's other countries, other people. They talk funny, worship statues, and pray to the Moon God, probably all bound for Hell anyway, right? Hell, we're just executing God's judgment on the poor suckers. They shoulda been good upstanding Christians like us.

Now that the same cruelty that we have inflicted on foreigners is coming to our shores, a few of us are rightly upset and angry, but I'm afraid it's too little, too late. Cruelty against one is cruelty against all, American or non-American.

On the upside, there's a lot of money to be made in building prisons and building weapons. As American citizens are hauled off to prison indefinitely without due process, the economy will be stimulated and jobs created. Doesn't that make you feel better?

While our feckless Congress can't figure out how to balance the budget, regulate the financial industry, deal with unemployment or keep Social Security solvent, they can all get together to erase the Bill of Rights and enforce the new Police State. 

What should be done? Should we join Occupy Wall Street? Should we write our Congressman? Should we protest? Perhaps. I'm not sure what good all of that will do. I confess I'm not real political myself, and probably that won't change. 

Here's what I can suggest: an Advent meditation to bring us all back to the basic dignity and worth of all people, regardless of citizenship:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Titus ii:11

I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

St. Luke ii:10-14

*       *       *

Comments always welcome, pro and con.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Reflections

We are all waiting, anticipating.
You and I, each one of us is
For a rending,
a breaking,
For the tearing of a crack at the edge
of our consciousness,
that opens to the slowly growing light.

 For that silent, uncreated Word
to speak Itself 
into voiceless silences,
gently and quietly
like mountain waterfalls,
like a symphony orchestra.


For the first ripple upon our stagnant waters
the first breath of wind upon our shores 
the mosquitoes and the gnats 
a little,
an intimation of the Spirit's coming,
the rustle of dead leaves
that hung too long 
upon our branches.


For the Other. For perfect Being.
For the great eternal Something
to enter and to fill
the awful wastelands of our nothingness.

We are all waiting
as if in labor
crying out,
anguished expectancy,
the pain of a hope 
not yet fulfilled...
the convulsions and the clutching of a pillow.

And the others:
in the aptly named waiting room
white knuckled, breath held,
pacing the plain white floor
can only pray
and wait.

Is this also waiting?
This restlessness,
this nervous blinking, peering side to side,
thumbing through the morning papers,
one too many cups of coffee,
fumbling in one's pockets for a lighter,
and a cigarette
one does not have.

Is this also waiting?

The wastrel in the gutter
clutching at his gin
the narrowness, the closing in,
is he also waiting
in his small brown
paper bag?

The addict,
tired of waiting
flick his wrist to find a vein
worn out, afraid,
afraid of all this silence,
afraid of all these voices,

These too, are waiting.

A barren waiting,
devoid of hope.

Afraid You will not break open,
Afraid You will not speak,
not breathe, not fill.
Terrified You might....

And so the frantic
treading of water,
pushing dead branches 
over the open well,
skating very rapidly
on extremely thin ice,
busily nailing down the shutters
of a barren house.

All of these are waiting, too.

And there is expectancy,
another kind of waiting
one not barren
but filled with hope.

And there is another 
kind of silence
not the silence of death or lassitude
but the silence of a momentous

And another void, 
another place of emptiness
undespairing, full of potentiality

Only in this place of nothingness
where we are unmade and then
only in this silence 
can we begin to strain our ears to hear
the first sounds
of the Coming.

Advent and the Parousia.
The First and Second Coming,
and in between a million lesser Comings
to you and me, and to all of those who 

the desperate dropping of a needle,
the kicking of a bottle to the curb,
the sudden realization that one has no lighter,
the pouring of the coffee down the drain.

A sudden  silence strikes the waiting ear,
the cries and the contractions cease
more suddenly
than they first came.
And those in eager stillness waiting,
standing just without the door,
leaning forward,
strain their ears to catch
the first small glimmerings 
of sound.

For unto us a Child is born.

-- Isaac Fox

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Comments welcome.  Visit Isaac's website for more of his thoughts..