I can't fix what is broken, and recently I rarely even try. It was not always so.
One of my favorite stories to tell is about my beloved son, when he was just a year old. I loved being a father-- no one told me how wonderful it would be-- instead, well-meaning (I would like to think) friends would warn me that romance with my wife was over, that private time and personal time were a thing of the past and so on. Anyway...
I spent a lot of time on the floor after my son was born-- especially when he began to crawl and started walking. We would play with blocks, Legos and stuff like that for hours every day. Whenever a wheel came off a toy car or a Lego design we had built together broke, he would hand it to me or, if I was in the next room, bring it to me to fix.
I loved that time. Both my children would play on the floor with me or merely beside me. How fine it is when, say, your not-yet-walking child crawls away from playing with Duplo Blocks and crawls back a minute later and hands you a book to read to them! A smile through a binky should be able to melt the heart of anyone-- and it did mine.
"I can't do it! I tried!" He said. I eventually snapped it back in place for him, intentionally struggling with it to try and help ease his frustration by seeing me struggle, and while I did so, I said, "I am glad you tried to fix it yourself-- you are getting really close to being able to and it is not so easy.
"There is one thing that you did not try to do that I want you to remember."
He moved around to look at what I was doing and put a hand on my shoulder, waiting for me to show him the secret. I snapped it in place just then and handed him the truck saying, "You are a lot like me, and so this is going to be hard for you to learn because it is hard for me. When you have tried to do something and tried everything you know to do and it still doesn't work..."
My son sat down, not looking at the repaired fire engine, but looking at me, and I continued, "...then all that is left to do is to ask me to help." He smiled, and then came over and hugged me.
A few weeks later, a few days after his first birthday, he was in the next room playing with a balloon left over from the party. I was keeping a close eye on him through the door way (my desk in my home office was right next to a permanently open door into the living room) , and our dogs were enjoying the balloon as well. I wasn't getting any work done, but didn't care-- the balloon, dog and boy thing was more wonderful to watch than anything else I could possible be doing. As I knew it would, the balloon eventually popped. My son came tottering into the room and set the balloon on my leg-- just as he always did with a broken toy he needed me to fix.
"Oh, son. Some things cannot be fixed."
He took it well, merely as information being acquired. I did, too-- take disappointing him, that is; not knowing that it was foreshadowing-- the brokenness to come that I could not fix.
That brokenness to come and my not fixing it-- my son doesn't talk to me anymore.
After the brutal divorce to which court hearing I was not even invited, I was awarded standard daddy rights-- weekends. Their mother was restrained from moving out of the county without first obtaining court permission. She did it anyway, and left me no address- not even a city or county. I had telephone contact for a few months and she agreed to meet me "half-way," telling me she lived in Galveston but did not want me having her address.
I'm not a violent person, although since then, I have found that violence is both an effective and satisfying response to being attacked by violent others-- something I never tried against one of her countless violent attacks. Therefore, not wanting me to know where my kids lived was certainly about her fear that she and her lawyer were in jeopardy of "paying the price" for going too far.
The thought of tracking down her divorce lawyer had crossed my mind (and still does). Knowingly destroying an innocent man for a fee-- destroying a family for a fee... Well, not even a mother could love such a person and the world would be served by such a person's agonizingly torturous demise. It is a fantasy of mine and it helps sometimes to entertain it, but while I can be pushed to violence, I simply do not have the ability to plot violence-- it isn't in me.
So, when I finally was able to see my children again and spend a long weekend with them-- in a hotel because I was living in my car due to the child support being 55% of my gross income-- I felt hopeful again. I had spent over half of my then annual take-home pay in legal fees, filing for enforcement of my visitation rights, and adjustment of my child support to the State maximum of 25% of net income-- about a third to a quarter of what was being withheld from my pay.
I did not tell my children any of this that weekend. I simply enjoyed the time we spent together, and told them that I was taking steps to reunite us. I told them that courts and judges were involved, and that when my son turned twelve, the judge might ask him if he wanted to live with his Dad or his mom-- and that I expected him to tell the truth-- not worry about what his mother or I might think.
My daughter started crying and I didn't understand, and asking her, she sobbed, "I don't want to live alone with Mommy! I don't want [him] to go!"
"Oh No! Sweety! The judge would never separate the two of you-- if your brother lives with me, so will you, and if he lives with your mother, so will you."
The two whispered together for a moment, my daughter dried her eyes, they giggled together and then began a chant, "Dad-dy! Dad-dy! Dad-dy!"
Can you imagine my relief? Can you imagine the love? Can you imagine the hope?
The courts have still never even held a hearing on my motions-- six years ago this November. You want a reason? Because the courts and life and the world are brutal, tyrannical, and vicious. My failure to get the courts, at least, to be otherwise has my son not speaking to me.
You give me something to try-- I already did it.
I have been before a judge at least a dozen times to find the hearings are canceled at the request of the Office of the Attorney General-- because they do not want to get caught being the willing tool of a scheme to make a father live in his car while paying for a beach house for his ex-wife.
I don't know how to beat that system. I tried everything that I heard and read could be tried. All my son knows is that I failed, and he lost his Dad, and that his mother says it is because I don't care. The fact is, some things cannot be fixed, and the system beat me.
I don't think I can be fixed, either. I lay what remained of me on the leg of God seated at His throne, but some things cannot be fixed.
So since a child-- maybe since birth, I have the occasional spiritual vision-- a very real reality that I have found myself in and, too soon, back out of. I am aware of the spiritual reality and of this, the ordinary and hollow, reality both and at once. Maybe a hundred or two hundred such religious experiences over my life-time-- some profound, some light and easy.
I want to live there-- in that spiritual reality-- and I want to stay. It is not up to me.
Over the last seven years of this Hell on Earth, I have found myself in that spiritual reality more often-- maybe a total of an hour in the past year, rather than a few seconds worth of that each year. It is not enough. It sustains me, but only that. I have no control-- I only get invited and then only for such a brief time.
It is not ecstasy in the sense that some mystics describe it. Not in the way I think they mean, and I have read the mystics since young adulthood. It is purpose, watchfulness, meaning, excitement, adventure and such, but not really anything like "bliss" if that is taken to mean a peaceful, content and quiet existence.
Last night I dreamt, only dreamed-- not a vision (even though I was not asleep) of being with this person I have learned to love. I wish I was in love but, I think, I have not allowed/ will not allow myself that pain. None the less, the spiritual connection attracts with a profundity that is hard to ignore-- especially since I said good-bye to her this past week. Awake, letting my subconscious reign for a time:
In my dream, she was sitting on the floor in a yoga position, eyes closed and meditating. I wanted to join her, but two things prevented me. First, I knew that I could not make the spiritual world let me in by meditating-- I have no such control. The irresistible invitation which takes me out of this existence into one of meaning and purpose will take place even if I am walking down the street when it wants to (when He wants). Second, what I wanted was to say Mass-- the only intimacy that I can control even though I rarely feel the intimacy. In saying Mass, in speaking the words and handling the Bread and Wine, the intimacy with God is assured. It has the same effect as do the visions, but without the experience.
I started to go into another room to do just that, make the Body and Blood of Christ present with me and, by consuming them, in me. But there was this pillow on the floor near her. I sat down, and had just what I needed, as dreams allow us to do sometimes. I had no wine and no chalice, but I had a single communion wafer on the pillow which I had set before me as I sat cross-legged on the floor behind the one I now think of as my friend-- another friend and loved one who I have lost.
For a moment, I hesitated because I had no Missal and no Prayer Book. It had been a long time, and for a moment I wondered if I could remember the words. My mind was so blank that I picked up the piece of pressed bread, and aware only that I had wondered if I could remember the words, found myself making the sign of the cross with my right hand over the bread in my left and speaking so softly that I could barely hear myself.
"On the night before He died, our Lord Jesus Christ took Bread, and giving thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, 'Take, eat, this is my Body.'"
Next, just as I was about to consume the Bread, my friend was standing before me, facing me as I sat on the floor. I took the Host in my right hand, but instead of placing it in my mouth, held it out to her. The dream reset itself (I don't know why) and I had several communion wafers in a pile on a Paten on the pillow. It reset again and I had the one, broke it and held half up to her. It reset again and it was only the one, but she wasn't there anymore, and then, neither was the Bread.
Alone on the floor in a strange room, not my own, it no longer mattered. I knew that all there was left to do was go back out into a world with the hostile and burning light-- a light which burns on the skin, but despite its brightness, shows that what it reflects upon is insubstantial, withering from it, oppressed by it, enduring damage from sunrise to sunset, and barely recovering over night. I almost expect the world shown to evaporate in an instantaneous burst into smokeless dust and leave only the spiritual reality to be seen.
I wished it would.
It may be the light itself was Holy, but the world it shined upon was so ugly, so overwhelmed by its own malignancy, that the light seemed to be to blame.
I have friends and family who I suspect read my entries in this blog and that they worry that I am teetering on the edge of insanity. Feels that way to me sometimes.
From what I have read of my published saviors (Jung, Grof, Washburn, Jesus, Paul, John, et.al., John of the Cross, and so on) fear of going insane is just what it feels like when one steps most firmly into the spiritual world, and out of the temporal.
Even so, and despite my experience in those dozens, if not hundreds, of little reconnoiter missions into the spiritual reality, I know I must step again and again into this ugly temporal one, expose my own flesh to the harsh light, force myself to believe that what I do, here and now, matters and try hard to hope that what I do when invited and drawn into that other realty has effect on what I want to believe matters in this one.
And the souls that matter go away, and the souls that don't will beat me down again.
I watched the movie, Gandhi, for the first time yesterday. I then read several articles related to what I saw in the movie. Passive-Resistance verses War seemed to be the theme.
I tend to agree that war ought not to be a part of human existence in this world. What I fear Gandhi did not see is that war is a part of the spiritual world. Humans know what is spiritual even when we deny the existence of the spiritual. That is Carl Gustav Jung in a nutshell, by the way.
I cannot think of a religion that does not include war and warriors in its mythology. My own religion... not very politically correct, but my God is described and even addressed as "Lord God of Hosts." You know what "hosts" means, right? It means Armies. My God is a warrior. He once gave me a sword-- an invitation.
Music is the most obvious part of the spiritual world which breaks through into this world, but war is no different, however much less pleasant it may be to contemplate.
So, again, I say, "I have this spiritual sword."
In a early entry to this blog-- years ago, I wrote about being confused with, and even (implicitly) accused of being, a spy. Not a warrior, but a spy. A real event comes to mind as indicative of this odd association: The former CIA agent, closes the door to my office, hands me his card and says only something like, "Call me if you think you should" before opening the door and continuing his conversation with others in the hall.
The chief differences between being a spy and being a warrior, in my pallet of meaning, is that the spy works alone and in no uniform.
I don't mind being behind enemy lines, and I don't mind not having the uniform and the support and the provisions of a Marine or a soldier which the uniform implies. I do not even mind not being able to rest back at base, between tours, and let my guard down if only when I sleep. I mind being alone. I mind knowing that I can trust no one-- that the few who can be trusted are also isolated and never around long enough. I mind that they seem to never look back while I stand on a cold rainy foreign city street in hostile territory and watch the good ones walk away to set off again on their mission assignments and they do not look back.