Wednesday, December 5, 2012

wildness comes trotting to town

A coyote came to town yesterday afternoon. I saw it with my own two eyes. It was trotting right down Main Street, alongside the fence by the fire department.

I love it that wildness comes trotting to town.

I grieved at the response --Fish and Game came.... I didn't watch. I couldn't watch. Combination of nets and guns....

It was a young one by the looks of it --probably male, probably a "teenager" having been at last kicked out of its home turf, probably trying to stake its own claim to some territory, probably looking for water or food.

I guess there was wildness all over --no internet which meant no shopping (except for cash, which long ago became so not normal to me) --so our refrigerator is basically empty --and coyote, the Trickster, coming to town.

--I do think the symbolic nature of both of those events is so very important... and I know it is to many in town....

--and two more kids tried to commit suicide. this week. That's seven that I know of in the last eight weeks... there may be more. As the Sister said, sacrificial lambs... --there is not a teen suicide problem here, there is an adult problem here....

Mostly, I wish the 'pastors' would quit saying 'they've gone to a better place' at funerals.... Talk about a set-up.

The Traditionalists (Native American religion) in town blame it on a bad spirit that has come to town and causes the youth to lose heart.

Joel and I were just talking about that --when studying the colonial history of settlement in the Massachusetts area, one must deal with the Salem witch trials. And I keep telling Joel, if people say there are witches, we can offer all the explanations we want, but unless we address the idea that there really are witches in the mind's eye of the people, we won't get any place at all.... True for back then --true for now. After 31 years, he finally agrees.

So. There is wildness in town. Some of it can be seen. Some of it cannot. Seen and unseen, known and unknown.

One of the pastors from town called and asked me to join in a walk next week --a walk to the Tribal Offices, and to the school --a prayer walk for the kids.... they are calling for an assembly to address the kids --they hope the Tribal Chairman will join us.... I said I would participate, and when I said that perhaps we should ask some of the Traditional leaders to join us, the silence on the phone spoke many tales.

They believe differently, I heard.

Yes, I said, even we as Christians believe differently, but what we are after is the well-being of the children.

Well, I heard, I know the others will object.

Yes, I thought. Let us NOT stand together for the sake of the children because of our differences.

Geeeeezzzz.

There is a wild and gross spirit loose in town, sucking up the lives of the children.... And the adults have the reins. And unwittingly ride its back. And don't know how to get off its back....

Yes. Some of the Traditionalist ways don't make sense to me, and run counter to everything I think is right and the way the world works.... but to stand together in humility for the sake of the children is far more important....

Well... at least it is more important from where I sit. And stand.

But, what I also know is that as is the case in every other instance I can think of, it would be far better if there were some self-determination and self-direction at work --by tribal members. But, it ain't happening.... The history of divide and conquer is still alive and well.

At prayer this morning (Isaiah 2, ending with verse 11)

--you have forsaken the ways of your people,
O house of Jacob.
Indeed they are full of diviners from the east
and of soothsayers like the Philistines,
and they clasp hands with foreigners.
Their land is filled with silver and gold,
and there is no end to their treasures;
their land is filled with horses,
and there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made.
And so people are humbled,
and everyone is brought low -
do not forgive them!
Enter into the rock,
and hide in the dust
from the terror of the LORD,
and from the glory of his majesty.
The haughty eyes of people shall be brought low,
and the pride of everyone shall be humbled;
and the LORD alone will be exalted on that day.

That's what I like about prophets --their words cut in so many ways. One could read that as a condemnation of diviners, soothsayers, those who clasp hands with Foreigners, of wealth, of idols made by their own hands... and therefore the people are humbled.

More importantly, I think a simpler read is that there is much in our lives that distracts us from authentic relationships with God and our neighbor. It is the people themselves who have brought themselves low --with things that do not matter. Our pride gets in the way.... It is God alone who will be exalted. (So, in other words, it is not a condemnation of diviners and soothsayers etc. per se --it is a condemnation of our own hearts for not being true to our relationship with God.)

Or something like that....

--and that is when we hide in the dust and the glory of the Lord is a certain terror....

Yeppa.

Off I go.

-------

And here is what I was pondering yesterday before we were so rudely interrupted with a cut to our internet:

The garbage gets caught in the chain link fence, shoved there by the wind. Plastic bags, plates, cups, the occasional bit of homework. Beer cans and broken bottles litter that path behind our house.The only time it is picked up is when white volunteer crews come in the summer --Christians, mission groups giving their time and talent to cleaning up.

I remember reading once about a woman in San Francisco who found the where with all to meet with her alcoholic brother in a downtown sandwich shop once a month. She had a nice apartment and made enough to get along. He lived on the street. She had stopped trying to get him to sober up, and instead just offered him a hot lunch, sometimes a shower and overnight in a room at the Y. She met him where he was. In love.

I remember reading that, because she also wrote that she was able to do that because of her experience at the altar --that God met her where she was, and she was to go and do likewise. In love.

This morning I look at the garbage and just get angry. It reminds me of the patterns of self-destruction I see all around. I suppress the co-dependent desire to go pick it up. If I started picking up garbage here, I would never stop. I am so tempted --that the next time somebody comes looking for a job I suggest they go pick up the garbage, and then when they come and ask to be paid for it, I'll say thank you for giving back to your community --and then not pay them.

I mean, we had a guy knock on our door at eleven o'clock at night and demand the $2 we owed him. We didn't owe him. We said so. But we gave him the $2... and it really ticked me off. I border on resentment.

--and then I remember. I remember brokenness. Devastating brokenness. Even my own. And such brokenness is not to be overcome by fear, anger, resentment --more brokenness.

Yesterday in the car as we drove to Rapid, I was asked --have you heard of spiritual woundedness? Yes, I say. What is it? I was asked.

I think part of it is the old-fashioned word for de-moralized, I said. When those who are leaders break the very fiber of the things they are called to uphold, be they governmental, spiritual, educational, whatever leaders --that leads to spiritual woundedness. Betrayal, I said.

Awash in remembering. And, she too spoke of broken treaties and lies. Yes, she said, yes. Okay. I get it.

And so I remember the garbage --and even the fences as symbols of brokenness on the great prairie -of dividing and ownership where once there had been none of that.... of Betrayal. And broken treaties.

And I remember and read:

Lady Julian of Norwich, the fifteenth-century English mystic, prayed to God for three wounds: the wound of contrition, the wound of longing for God, and the wound of compassion. As we have seen, to become compassionate it to be drawn into God’s own woundedness. Julian understood that a circle of compassion, or woundedness, springs from the relations within the Trinity; it flows through Christ, is felt throughout creation, and, in those who love Christ, it returns again to God. To speak of compassion is to speak of woundedness, of a divine woundedness, first of all, but also of our human woundedness. Compassion means woundedness.

The spirituality for compassion is a spirituality that must pay special attention to our woundedness. It is sheer illusion to imagine that we can walk intimately with others in their woundedness if we have not been first of all intimately acquainted with our own woundedness. Education for compassion becomes education in our own woundedness.

Woundedness, or course, is not a new topic in the curriculum of a minister, although the consideration of woundedness is not usually seen to be a part of adult Christian education or of seminary preparation. Jesus certainly understood that following him would involve suffering for the disciple: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me: (Luke 9:23). Again and again we read of Paul suffering with Christ, dying with Christ, and even completing in himself the sufferings of Christ. 2 Corninthians 1:3-4 is a text that anyone involved in ministry would do well to ponder:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

As Nouwen notes, “the great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.”

….

---the process: lament and liturgy. Lament is the language of crying out in which we struggle to articulate or at least expressing some way the pain that is buried inside. … --psalms allow us to name what we really experience without covering awfulness up with pious rejection, as if true faith meant no negativity.



Just as the psalms allow us to express our deepest experiences in on medium, liturgy allows expression in another medium, in which senses and emotions, symbols and ideas enable us to gather all of life together, the good parts as well as the bad parts in the shared act of worship. The lament and the liturgy combine to enable us to express the inexpressible in the context of prayer and worship. The heart of the work of naming and owning our woundedness is not solely the psychological process of coming into self-awareness, important as that is. It is, rather, the process of discovering oneself, and one’s experiences of suffering, through one’s participation in the ancient language and rituals of faith….


Passion. Compassion. Betrayal. Spiritual woundedness....

And I can incarnate each of those... put faces to each...

How can one heal the wounded spirit? How does one bind the limbs of despair? It cannot be by giving it words and liturgy alone... although, strangely, I remember being on the gurney, losing our first pregnancy and my life in danger as well, and Joel switched in to priest mode and gave me last rights... and my spirit let go in to the free fall of the abyss... --and found not a rushing wind, but quiet. And I could begin again.

The sun pours in my window, the dogs growl at a fly --where did a fly come from after all this freezing weather.... Practically... --to what should I point to make 'em pick up their own damn garbage? Where is the point, the place to begin again?



Feh.... spellcheck wants me to capitalize "internet" --no way.

AND, margaret dear --as to how to 'make 'em pick up their own damn garbage' --heeheee, what a different a day makes --pick the log out of your own eye m'dear...

Just sayin'.

6 comments:

IT said...

Wow, so much ground covered! I grieve for the loss of young life and the despair it responds to. I cannot really fathom it except to know that it is good that you are there to hear their voices in the winds.

I will focus on the animals. I saw a coyote trotting along the railway right of way in industrial LA COunty the other morning, with a saucy tilt to his head. We see them a lot in San Diego too, and no one really pays attention; certainly no one calls animal control. Keep your cats and small pets inside, we all know that when kitty doesn't come home, that's why.

In Berkeley, there was a cougar looking for territory all the way down near Shattuck Avenue. And my mother called to say that a bobcat ran in front of her car in Tilden park on her way to walk the dogs. The wild animals are coming back among us. Do they know something?

it's margaret said...

I was surprised at the response to the coyote --word is they tranquilize them and carry them back out to more remote areas. I was equally surprised that the coyote was not more shy!

Perhaps they can read the Mayan calendar, and know we are doomed --and are getting ready, heh?!

susankay said...

We also have coyotes. Our next door neighbor has dogs which he leaves out at night in a pen. From time to time coyote comes and sits just outside the pen -- clearly enjoying that he is driving the dogs to distraction.

susankay said...

Oh -and how terribly (appropriate word) seductive it is for me to want to "fix" people or situations -- thank you for the story of the woman and her brother meeting in love.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Margaret. You've been terrific recently. You somehow manage to take us into the wilderness - coyotes, suicides, hard nosed pastors, no power - with you and lead us out without ever denying the awfulness of it. As a friend of mine used to put it, "You lifted my load." Thanks. Harvey

Paula said...

I was hesistant to respond to this amazing entry in your blog, because of so much pain and sadness, and so much other ground covered. But I can respond to coyotes--they are indeed coming back, as are deer in the suburbs.

I read about a coyote in Chicago that is so comfortable with the ways of the streets that it waits for the traffic light to turn green. It understands the laws of survival. I wish we all could learn them, and that they were the same for all of us.