Thursday, June 10, 2010

For Goodness' Sake

A friend has undertaken an inquiry into the nature of goodness ( In the midst of busy times and transitions at the farm recently, I have only been aware of this in a perfunctory manner...noticing her facebook updates, and nothing more. But today's status made me stop and take notice:

"Something weird is going on with my soul."

Been there. Done that. Here's where it got me. It's a good thing...but profoundly surprising, if I stop and think about it. I'm not the least bit surprised other people think I'm nuts.

Not that she will end up anywhere remotely close to where I appear to be, from the outside. Or she might. I'm just saying there's no correlation to any outward result. Heck, I don't even know where I'll end up, just a little of where I've been and where I am now.

Skimming her blog brings cascades of recognitions, memories, understandings of my own journey. This blog was begun to tell the story of the rainbow covering that I wear daily, to explain it to others, to help myself to understand it better. But it is also the current chapter of a lifelong journey. And so she has reminded me that after starting in the middle of the story, it's only fair to spend some time, now and then, going back and filling in some of the history.


Where did my own journey start? The foundation was laid in family values: beauty (real beauty, like a lawn studded with thousands of dazzling dandelions), truth (like the little child saying, "but the Emporer HAS GOT NOTHING ON!"), education (like having Audubon guides read to me instead of bedtime stories when I was a toddler), etc.

But I can (at least at this moment, from this perspective) trace the actually intentional quest to a season in high school. Finding the Witter Bynner translation of The Way of Life [Tao Teh Ching] while taking inventory of the high school library one summer. NOTICING the shimmer of sunlight on autumn grasses. Reading and discussing Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM) with my best friend. Was that also the year I learned to spin yarn, and realized I needed to raise my own sheep someday? It well could have been.

From ZMM: "And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good: need we anyone to show us these things?" Those words have been faithful guides on my journey. ZMM tells of several, interwoven journeys: spiritual, psychological, physical. The complex, non-linear telling of these inseparable tales foreshadows my own convoluted sense of time in my own life...a non-linearity that sometimes puzzles others. The past is current here in the present; the future is embodied here as well; now is all there is but the past and future are both enfolded here. When someone says, "oh, forget that, it was all in the past"...well, how can I do that when it is part of the present?

Circularity. The poem Miracle tells about one seed, that of my baptism: a truly momentous event in my life, in hindsight. Getting there was 40 years of the journey--40 years of other, generally more subtle miracles.

But before my deliberate commitment to God (baptism), I simply didn't have the language to describe the previous miracles, the steadfast guidance I received from God in my daily living, the love and care that nurtured me whether I believed in it or not. I didn't believe in it, in fact. Not a passive lack of considering believing, but an active, "informed" denial of any such thing. It is very difficult to be aware--in any detailed sort of way--of something for which we do not have language. About the most we can say is--as Diane so well put it--"Something weird is going on". And then we can hope that someday we will stumble on the words with which to explore it.

Silly me. God was here/there all along. This I know from the depth of my heart and soul and mind and spirit. Yet back then I "knew" the exact opposite: that God was a ridiculous myth, an intellectual construction by and for those who were too stupid to live without some sort of SuperParent making up rules and punishing those who broke them.

I can't prove it either way. Neither can anyone else. Perhaps it's simply a symptom of mental illness that I'm wearing this "little piece of spiritual cloth" on my head.

But for goodness' sake, for God's sake, I can't imagine not wearing it, now.

For God's sake, because it is one little thing I CAN do that is following scripture (obedience R-not-me)...and...(because I am not as nice as I think I'd like to be yet) it asks the Emperor's-new-clothes question of all biblical literalists, "so why aren't YOU taking that scripture literally, if you claim to be taking all these other really vague scriptures literally?"

For goodness' sake, because it reminds me to be good. Now. Today. Always. Whenever God or anyone else is watching.

Good. Good day. Good night. Good bye. Good grief!

For goodness' sake, it's WAY past my bedtime.

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