Trinity Within

I am forty three years old.  I don’t know how this happened, but it seems pretty much undeniable.

I am past the halfway mark of the average life expectancy.  I have devoted my adult life to a single career.  I have chosen a wife.  My kids are all well beyond the halfway mark through childhood.

There are lots of things that I thought I would have by this age.  Many of them…  didn’t happen.   I have lost some of the blessings of youth and early adulthood. And there has been suffering.  In some sense, I have been absurdly and miraculously free of the sorts of things that can really break a person.  But all the same?  Nobody told me, or maybe I just never listened…  Sometimes, life can hurt.  Sometimes things can such.  There are pains that I was so woefully unprepared for.

Life is not what I thought it would be.

And yet!  Yet!!!

There is this freedom.  And there is this thing like joy.  I am starting to have this understanding.

When I was a kid, I thought when I reached the advanced age of 20, I would feel like an adult.  I thought I would have it all figured out.  As I neared 20, I started to suspect that this was just a tad optimistic.  But 25 came and went, and I still felt like a kid playing dress up.  And then came 30, and I still feared somebody was going to find out I was just pretending.  Thirty five came with something like desperation.  I think this was the time I started to fear that I wasn’t ever going to grow up.

And here I am, now.  Sad and joyful and disapointed and hopeful and forty-three years old.    The understanding I thought I would have at 20?  I am finally getting there.  I seem to be about as good at predicting timing as the Windows Downloard Manager.

Tonight, I was listening to this incredibly talk by Richard Rohr.  He was talking about this process of becoming an elder.  And how the second half of life, it is all about going deeper than the words and plattitudes we spout off through the first half.  He used the example of the trinity: “Do you have an experience of the trinity deeper than the motions you are making?” He asked.

I am not sure that he meant for it to go in the direction my brain did, but I had this flash of understanding, just then.  I realized that I am a symbol of the trinity.   Or it is a symbol of me.  Or both and also, i suppose, neither.

The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

I am a trinity unto myself, as I move into the second half of my life.

I am a father in many senses of the word, and longing to be one more so.

I am a son.  I am still a son.  In some narrow senses, I am less of a son than I have been, in that I am less dependent on my earthly father.  (Some of the time.)  My mom has passed away, I do not directly depend on her in this world.

And yet, I am the summation of my son-experiences.

In other words: I am grown.  I am working at being wise, I am working at being an elder.  I am working at being, ultimately, a father.  I am able to do this because I grew.  Because I was a son.  Perhaps this is similiar to Jesus’ entry into the world:  God the father is in some sense justified as father because he was a son, because he set aside his God-hood.

And the Holy Spirit?  Just as it is with the trinity outside of me, it is with the trinity within.  The Holy Spirit is the between place, the mystery place, the place where words begin to come short…  But I can point to some things, hint and suggest.

There are experiences that are between my fatherhood and my sonhood.  There is a boundary, a bleeding over, a bleeding through.  There is a need to stitch these two opposite sides together, just as the head-side of a coin must be joined to the tales-side of the coin with the width of the coin.

And just as there is this mystery outside of me, there is this mystery within:  I, and you, are the father and the son and the holy spirit.

Incredible graphic technology

I work at this retail place a couple nights a week.  There is a security monitor behind the counter.  It cycles through the 3 or 4 cameras that are trained on the section I work in.  One of those is a view of the counter itself.  We employees watch ourselves on video.

This was both new and disturbing.  I’m the least visual person you’ll ever meet.   I rarely have time or inclination to look at myself.  I generally brush my teeth with my glasses off.  My hair is so short it doesn’t need to be brushed.  My lovely wife tells me when there is something scary stuck in my teeth.

Bottom line: I’m pretty well out of touch with what I look like.

In my heart, I’m about half my age: sometimes I think I’m 18.  I think my hair is these flowing blonde locks that flow half way down my back.  I think that my hair line actually starts where a hairline is supposed to start.  I think that I’ve got the suggestion of definition to my muscles, from the hours of martial arts practice I used to engage in.  I think I’m dressed in some wacky artist version of hip.

And so it was deeply disturbing, that first time I looked at myself. 

The image in the screen had this beginning of a gut.  He was wearing this boring, adult, polo shirt.  His head was shaved.  He was not an ugly guy… he just… well, he just looked like some ordinary, boring adult. 

But then I realized something: that couldn’t possibly be me.  My retail job, they must have invested in some sort of bizzare graphic imaging program.  It wiped out the actual image of me and replaced it with that … boring adult.  I’m not at all clear why they did this.  But they must have.  There is no way that guy is me.  He’s got a fricking bald spot blossoming in the back of his head, amidst all the stubble!!!

In my heart, I know it is me.  But there’s lots of things I don’t know:

Do you have an image of yourself that is disconnected from how you actually look?  

Is my thing an age thing?  Is it that I want to be a teen ager?  (Even when I was that age, I remember my first serious girl friend calling me “Peter Pan” because I was so determined not to grow up.) Or is that I want so desperately to be cool, and it’s harder to look  cool and be a  dad/working professional?

Is it good or bad that I want to look special, different, unique?  In the afterlife, will I look all cool, or will I reach some level of maturity where I won’t desire to be all hip?

 

On Returning to California

On Returning To California

This place is no longer my home.

I am changed and vulnerable, now,

to the beauty and to the chasing of beauty

and to the way it is sharpened…

That easy chatter

and accessorizing;

firm bodies, tan bodies

surgically reconstructed bodies,

and the adoption and the adaptation

of High Style–

as if it were a scent

on the breeze

carried with the salt.

All this is relentless

in seeking out my softest places

These, they secretly

sing a drum beat

demanding my lock-step.

How many nail salons,

hair designers,

aesthetiticians

can one population support?

Is there, here, one Gold’s Gym

or Fitness Centre/Juice Bar

for every man, woman, and child?

I consider eating

carb-free California rolls from the Sushi Bar

and then

I want to go home.

Wrung Out

Life diminishes us all.

It makes everything that there is less than what it was It takes the very essence of what is best.

There are things

in my life

which might now heap only a thimble.

Once they’d have filled a wheelbarrow.

We might mourn… or not.

We might wonder… or not.

We might wonder about that thing they say:

“nothing is destroyed it is only transformed”

To catologue the rusts and the worms

is to focus only on the process.

it is to miss the more fundamental question

Where does it all go?

I can only pray

that there is this underwater resevoir.

When all things wash away

because all things will wash away…

when they wash away it is carried off

in this subtarenean stream.

A torrent of the very essence of the things

life takes from us.

There is this ocean

which the rivers fill

if it is not the source of all things

it is atleast Creation’s engine…

and the emissions of this engine, the mist swept off that ocean…

they find their way back to me…

the very deepest of me.

Perhaps with my inhalations they penetrate me.

And they gather in my secret places,

expectantly.

the remnants of what I once had returned,

and finds it’s way out again.

On a page

in a file

in my computer

entitled “poems”

Life wrings us out…

but the drippings?

They return

as they must.

The Pull

There are thing I should

have said

to myself.

Things that were so elementary

to the very essence

of who I was that I did not think

it necessary to verbalize them.

Things that were

basic to who I wasThey are not things that noware basic to who I am.

Nobody ever told me

I didn’t really let myself know

about the shifting inside

the shifting that happens inside.

The pull.

There is this pull

this emtpiness

the very deepest of me is this emptiness

I am a whirlpool

I am a black hole.

Nobody ever told me.

I didn’t really let myself know.

And these

these importances…

To give them words

would have been to give them weight.

They would have been damned a little

limited by being uttered.

but they would have been tethered to the inside of my skull, too.

They might have made it through.

through

through the years

out the other side of a black hole,

like the rope they encirled ’round the mediums waist

as she crossed over to the other side in Poltregeist.

Watching You Play Outside for the First Time

I am sipping mediocre tea out of a ridiculous Santa mugtrying to let you go,

play on your own

I want to and won’t hover over you

even though I am scared

because you don’t yet know enough to be scared

WINDOW

You stalk around, faux stealthy, in your puffy jacket,

armed with a new toy

it shoots sticky green globs

which freeze in the December Dusk

on naked bushes, the garage, rocks, your new pants.

You are discovering quiet and truth

and what it is to be yourself

This is maybe the first time you’ve ever not performed.

Though you inhabit a make believe world of soldiers and spies and whoever today’s children’s villains are

You are also wholly here, in the moment.

Nutshell

is it…

no it is

cruelty and necessity

that lead to this life-path.

When first I was an almost-adult

Like Atlas I bore the wieght of the world.

Like Hamlet I counted all the world a prison,

my denmark, too, bounded me in a nutshell.

Contrary to my youthful arrogance

In spite of the theses of my various term papers,

debates, rants and drunken revelations

I did not accomplish much of anything.

I did not solve the mind-body problem.

I did not prove or disprove the existence of God.

I did not overcome Cartesian doubt.

I did not justify Nietschean ethics…

It turns out these things

all those things

don’t particularly care

a single, dripping whit

what I think of them.

Though I wrote countless letters

exactly where Amnesty International directed me to.

Though I came, I saw, I protested…

I stopped eating meat

stopped buying disposable razors

stopped driving everywhere I went…

Bad stuff still happened, it still happens:

Wal-Mart is the new South Africa

W. is the new H.W.

Iraq is the new Iraq…

I grapple with this tangle of emotions

when I see them:

these reincarnations of who I was

sloganned t-shirts,

battered back packs leaning off a shoulder

with their signs,

and their “what’s your sign” ‘s

I am nostalgic

and contemptuous

and jealous

and thankful

and annoyed.