I’ve been hearing the knock for some time, and not finding any way to open the door. You never know with these things. Is it that I haven’t been finding any way, or that I’ve been, on some level, refusing. While that’s been happening I’ve been knowing that the 52nd entry was some kind of transition. I couldn’t find a way to honour that, and number 53 dell into vague musings about Jean Genet.

Then I had a dream. In my dream I was being pursued, not aggressively, by a man who appeared to be of middle European origin. He was angry and very insistent that I had in some way slandered or wronged him. In order to escape him I stepped into an elevator. He didn’t get in, but stood glaring at me as the doors closed. Once in the elevator, I had no access to the button and never, in the dream, got anywhere.

I am learning these days to segue from dream to prayer, asking the Lord to take the dream, use It. open in out for me.

Here’s what I know. The narrative voice that has run “Mind for Jesus” for a year is degenerating, getting kind of thin.

A new voice is demanding to be heard. I don’t know much about him. His name is Peter Washburn. He is Polish/English/Canadian. He’s a fierce fellow, a little younger than I am. He announces himself as a Christian nihilist, but I’m not sure what that means, and I don’t know if he’s sure either. I think we need to set him free.

So enough already. A puff of smoke. A swirl of the magician’s cloak. My voice is stilled indefinitely.

Go NOW to thevoiceofpeterwashburn.wordpress.com.


Saint Genet (my blog reborn?)

I think I’ve said what I have to say. A full year of this blog has given me space to spread myself out in language, and find out what I thought about a number of things. I’ve enjoyed it for sure. There’s nothing I love better than language, and, interestingly, now that I can’t read, I find myself writing the things I would read if I could.

When I discovered French intellectual tradition (it began with reading Camus when I was in my teens, spread like wildfire to Sartre and then to Genet) it was like a rebirth. Those guys use language in a very different way. English is a methodical language. To some extent, with its crazy Gothic grammar architecture, it has to be. Generally Presbyterian in outlook, its flights of fancy have to be well buttressed, butterflies broken on the wheel of rational organized thoughts.

But those French writers let the holy fire into their writing. Jean Genet was a lifelong criminal, recidivist, thief, hustler, and artist. His book, with the provocative title “Our Lady of the Flowers”, grounded its narrative in his masturbation fantasies. Their relative intensity guided the plot. When Sartre wrote his biography he called it “Saint Genet”. All the passions have a place in literary discourse, he suggested, and when we bring them in we sanctify them, and we spread the light of human thought a little further out into the darkness.

When we exclude things, call them evil or demonic, we in fact make them so, give them to the demons, and the demons love it. That’s when they win. God is everywhere. Love and light are everywhere. I think Edna St. Vincent Millay said it best when she wrote “They drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, robber, a thing to flout. But love and I found a way to win. We drew a circle that shut them in.”

The only real danger is fear.

Spring wind, spring ghosts

I feel as if I’m waking up after a very long sleep. It’s the first of May. I can’t see that much of it, but I can see the green mist of new leaves on the trees. I can feel the amazing breath of the spring night, and hear the roar of Cottonwood Creek, feel the secret jubilation of the trees moving a little in the rainy darkness.

These are all easy to describe. But something is moving in me, and I’m wary of enclosing it in language. I want to say to my thoughts “Beware. This man’s words are amber, sticky, beautiful, and dangerous, and if you don’t take care you’ll find yourself trapped in a golden eternity, looking out at the living world as it looks in at you.”

But we have to try, or what’s a blog for?

I had two or three ghostly visitors last week. I’ve never in my life had any ‘supernatural’ experiences. This might sound odd, coming from a guy who makes a living reading Tarot cards, but I have never, and do not now, see Tarot as in any way supernatural. It’s maybe about as supernatural as ultra-sound, a way to see what our five senses can’t.

I’ve been praying hard for something to be released, to come out of me. Wild and noisy events in my house, occurring in the night, when I’m certain I was awake, are, I hope, its departure. It was running around the house not knowing what to do with itself. I was praying for its release into whatever rest or dissolution it needed. Interestingly, I was never afraid. Goose bumps like crazy, and a very powerful startlement, but no fear at all.

I’m hoping I’m right, and that something has gone. I think so.

And at the same time I feel my own fire rekindled. I have drive and energy I can’t remember having for a very long time. And, most terrifying, hope.

Tigers and Idols

God is a fire. To live properly we need to live at the heart of the fire. This can sound painful and melodramatic. But fire doesn’t always consume. The burning bush just burned.

Phil Ochs: “Moments of magic will glow in the night, as fires will sometimes burn cold.”

The best way not to be eaten by the tiger is to be the tiger. There are libraries full of rules and subsets of rules to protect us from the tiger. How can we need protection if Jesus Christ is Lord?

I know this to be true. Through all the convulsions of my own life, post-traumatic stress issues, the long term deformation of sexual abuse, encroaching blindness and cardiac nonsense, I know now, absolutely and for certain that there is nothing to fear. Certainly not the tiger.

In a world where rules count they become an addiction. There can never be enough of them. They become an idol, and as we worship at their bloody feet we become them. Jesus broke them all and left us two. “Love God and each other.” “Come to me,” he said.

In Clive Barker’s book “The Great and Secret Show” people made little effigies out of excrement, and, saying certain words over them and engaged with them in certain way turned them into obscene and deadly creatures.

That’s what we do when we sit in the dark playing with rules and being afraid. Love is the only rule. Jump! Will your ouches still ouch? Probably. Will your heart still ache? Likely. Will you have bad nights when your pillow becomes an instrument of torture? Maybe. But not for long. The fire will bring you home.

note: I’ve been struggling a bit with this blog. I set a goal of keeping it for a year, and next week the year’s up. I think I’ve also completed a certain cycle of thought in it, and I’m wondering what happens nest. I’ll let you know next week.

. . . . not a tame lion.

The end fo the road is the beginning of everything else.

I opened this blog to use my intelligence and clear a path. Now I find myself swinging the machete of reason and not finding much to do with it. In some way I can’t define, my mind has moved since Easter. Something has happened, and I’m not wanting to use language to contain it.

Something is afoot.

Closest I can come in a Narnia reference. “Aslan is afoot,” and “He’s not a tame lion.”

I don’t think I can say more right now.

Love comes again, that with the dead has been.

I’m kind of blogged out from doing a blog last Thursday and another one on Easter Sunday.   Did the stone move? Does it work that way, that we can invest so deeply in a holy day that something actually happens? I think so. I think it did. I’m tired and sprung, and I’ve walked through a pretty narrow valley over the past few days, but I feel troughed, riding the trough between the waves like a sea otter on his back. There’s a spring wind and a bit of spray, and the ocean moving under me, big and easy. Something has let go, and I think it’s let go forever. There’s an open space where there wasn’t one.

The angel rolled away the stone and Jesus was back among the people who loved him. His wounds were still on his body, and they were open, but not bleeding. He was there, maybe, and not there at the same time. He had gone through death and found freedom and there was an exhale, a release as big as the universe. He stayed a while longer, and then was gone. Or at least his corporeal presence was gone.

If I take this to my own personal experience, my world shook on Easter. I was too ill to go and worship with my friends. I was so ill that night that I wasn’t sure I’d be breathing the next morning. But the whole time I was holding this sense of a small green flame, something between a green shoot and a fire. asking the stone to roll away and set it free.

There’s something here I don’t understand yet, and I’m reluctant to put it into language, which can as easily trap ideas as it can set them free. I’ll just leave it with an Easter carol I love.

“In the grave they laid Him

Love whom we had slain,

Thinking that He’d never

Wake to life again.

Love comes again

That with the dead has been

Love is come again

Like grass that springeth green.”

Easter Sunday

t is risen. He is risen indeed.

That being said, what else is there to say?

Lord, show me the place in me where the stone is rolled away. It’s easy for me to participate in commemorations of suffering and loss; they come so naturally. Joy and resurrection are more difficult.

In me is a garden. I know this. Visualisation, yes, but not only.. There’s a hill at the back of it where water comes falling down. When I was younger I could climb it and find the pool at the top, and see the black swans that frequented it. There are, or were, last time I was there, little dwarf pines there, and rock, and something like heather..

The water comes down in a little cascade, so gentle that it’s almost possible to think that it’s falling up, not down. And I think maybe there are multiple cascades, that the one with the swans is only one stair in the staircase, just the highest I ever went.

There’s another pool at the bottom. A weeping willow leans over it, and part of the pool dreams inside the tent the willow branches make. I spent more time there as a child than I do now. Once a darning needle, fiery blue sliver of life, came in through the curtain of willow leaves and sat on a stone. To go in there now feels like risking everything.

Off to the left and right of the waterfall the rock wall is more like a rock garden. Little pink flowers with furry leaves nestle confidently among the stones. In a different climate there would be lizards among them. Sometimes long ago I would pretend I was John Ridd, and that my sweetheart Lorna Doone made her home at the top of those crags, that the flowers and little Bonsai shrubs that grew among the rocks had been planted and cultivated by her in the years when she waited for me to come.

I’m looking now for the place where the sweetness and sorrow of the past are ruptured by the sword of Now. I’m looking for the Tomb. And I hardly dare to find it. I’m looking for the Tomb.

It’s tricky, because I can beguile and intoxicate myself with language. At the same time I have to use language to do this. I’ve never been a big fan of lucid dreaming. It seems to me that our dreams are messages, and that we’d do well not to manipulate them. but writing is pretty much the same as lucid dreaming. The images are captive in the language, and the language, bless its heart, is never free of its own agenda.

I’m afraid because if I come upon the Tomb, and find it empty, I will never know if it was so, or if it was just my own web-spinning. So I dawdle as I wander along the rock-wall, beguiled by tiny golden spiders,]

Something in me is saying “Hurry now. Hurry.” I go slower. I want this too much. And as I do I know the Tomb isn’t in the garden. Not like that. I feel something moving in me and I know that. My body’s a somewhat more reliable medium than language.

Last year at an Easter worship service I found myself rising to my feet, and stepping to the front of the room. This is not characteristic of me, and I had no idea what I would do when I got there. Nor did anyone else.

I stood for a minute, and then found myself kneeling, stretching out my arms, crying out quite loudly “The stone is rolled away! The stone is rolled away!”

This time I’m alone in my house, and it’s full of spring sunshine.

The garden is shaken once, twice, several times. A few years ago I experienced an earthquake, woke to find my bed being roughly shaken. I was delighted by the experience. The garden is shaking now.

Again, I pull back from language, check back with my body. Language can only exist in the past.

I don’t know how to describe what I’m feeling now. It’s like hearing a call, almost on a cellular level. It’s not exactly ‘hearing’. It’s like feeling corpuscles of light bubbling in me or something. I start smiling.

Of course the stone is rolled away. Out of respect one relives the sorrow and fear, but always knowing that it’s done once and for all, that Easter is the enactment, not the real thing.

That being so, the garden shakes again. There’s a little landslide, upsetting spiders and uprooting a few plants. Like quantum particles the stone is everywhere but you can’t pin it down. The stone is in my heart. It’s my refusal of joy, my refusal of the Resurrection. The Risen Lord is behind it. The joy isn’t the easy cheerful bonhomie of a happy congregation. It’s more intolerable than that. It could smash everything.

Can I let it?

I think of John Donne crying out “Batter my heart three-person’d God.” For sure, but it puts the whole process in the future. Always we want to put things in the past or in the future, never in the present. The fact of Donne’s heart not yet being besieged and won gives him some excuse. God is in the Now. Now is everywhere, but you can’t hold it. Nor can you ever get out of it, so you’d best release into the Now anything that you care about.

The heart that beats also loves. They’re the same heart. The heart that pumps blood pumps love. My broken heart is the Stone.

It’s time now. Christ is risen.

I think of John Donne crying out “Batter my heart three-person’d God.” For sure, but it puts the whole process in the future. Always we want to put things in the past or in the future, never in the present. The fact of Donne’s heart not yet being besieged and won gives him some excuse. God is in the Now. Now is everywhere, but you can’t hold it. Nor can you ever get out of it, so you’d best release into the Now anything that you care about.

The heart that beats also loves. They’re the same heart. The heart that pumps blood pumps love. My broken heart is the Stone.

It’s time now. Christ is risen.