Christmas Day passed and as every year past, I will myself to become one with the celebrations and spirit, but who am I kidding? I'm no closer to feeling a 'part of things.' As usual, my efforts are in vain and I fail completely, effortlessly. It's a curious 'failure:' it nurses a consoling tinge, a melancholic and bittersweet rub on the back, pat on shoulder, as if to say, "I have something else." What exactly do I have, in not group affiliate? A blog is as ready a place to articulate it. I've always stood slightly out of step, standing at the periphery of the circle, looking vaguely in but also askance. No matter which holiday and celebration comes along, I balked at signing up for it--it would require too complete a commitment. More belief than I'm willing to invest. These occasions seem arbitrary, mere conveniences for the species. (The one exception to this, and one I celebrate with every manner of bell and whistle, balloon, favor and fervor, gifts galore . . . is the birthday! This explosion: from non-existence to existence . . . existential, indeed--what is more base and essential?)
About Christmas and sundry holidays, the misgivings hurtle within me, rapid-fire in relentless missive. I'm plagued by doubts: "What about all other religions of the world? Are they lesser? To anthropomorphize: if they were people, would they not feel neglected or favored, with worshippers rejecting and accepting? How to limit myself to one notion of 'God?' To what end would I "sign up" for extolling virtues of one religious leader more than another? Why this and what that . . . they're endless, my musings, some idle and others not. I feel an abiding sense of purpose and order in and of the Universe (deigned 'God'), as much as random chaos and happenstance, as we stumble along. The order and chaos are not binary, not mutually exclusive: one is not possible without the other.
I shudder as I write, "I'm taking on the little matter of God in a blog?" WTF? Come on now, really! My ambitions precede me . . . and come to a screeching halt. Try as I might, lending language to inchoate impression, eludes me. If I could pen verse, I'd aspire to the 13th century mystic Persian poet Rumi. In his poem, Only Breath, he cuts through it all: fissures of the mind, obliquely eyes the unnamable, unknowable, unwraps the wrapped while with a sleight of hand, wraps the unthinkable with dizzying possibility. It's worth reading for the sheer drama, each line unfurling at breakneck speed, hungry to claim and savage the 'un-claimable.' The fourteen lines below are a marvel of quiet defiant surrender.
Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam or Eve or any
origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.