Sunday, April 11, 2004

After that last entry ...,

I found myself peeling back layers of life throughout the day. The house was still. Dorian off painting her birds at NIAD in preparation for an exhibit at Piedmont High School next month -- in connection with their annual and quite famous bird-calling contest. Returned home hours later and rewrote much of it with additions -- more depth made possible by what I re-read this evening. That's new for me. Maybe Bill was right after all with his "...polishing and editing and selecting just the proper word ..." Have tended to re-read for typos from time to time, but rarely to make major changes in what I've written. This journal is quite like those songs I "made up", spontaneous and not subject to change. Something is beginning to happen -- the writing is becoming more serious. I'm also becoming more aware of the eyes of readers other than the intended audience of my sons' and an occasional friend who cruises by out of curiosity. Not sure what that counter means when I look at the breakdown of how many visits, how long each spent reading, etc., and am careful to not pay too much attention to it lest self-consciousness make the writing more difficult. Less honest. Now and then I glance ever so casually -- as if it really doesn't matter -- all the while wondering who's following this journal and what you're thinking? Makes me wonder about other lives and how alike are the elements in your lives compared to mine?

Having more time to re-live the past is quite wonderful, but with that comes a sense of living in a period of summation, the re-cap, suggests endings and slowing down, and those are thoughts that I don't particularly enjoy. I like to think that this is how it feels to be on the threshold of a new chapter of experiences not yet lived.

Maybe I'm simply responding to Good Friday.

Matters not how far from Catholicism I've grown, the childhood dread of the stories of the Passion of Christ, the Cruxifiction, is renewed. (Must look up the spelling of Cruxi ...) Images of statues of saints enshrouded for the Lenten season flash through my head. I'm not sure that I ever really thought my way out of my religion so much as I simply failed at it. I often think (secretly) that -- had I been successful -- I would surely have become a nun.

That thought reminds me that I often lay quietly as Bill left our bed each morning at five to meditate on his royal blue zafu in the quiet of the dawn. Was always careful to not officially "waken" until I could catch the scent of coffee brewing from the kitchen. As a devout Catholic child, (Billy) he and I shared stories about nuns and catechism classes, and shaky confessions, etc., but while I was drawn to Atheism and Unitarian Universalist as a young adult, Bill found himself an alien faith as different from the church of his youth as possible; Tibetan Buddhism. But was it really? He'd been a serious student for many years, dating from his first (guided) LSD experience in Bethesda, Maryland, as a subject of the Stan Grof experiments. This was true of a number of our friends from the East Coast. At that time, such experiments were legal and highly sought after by professionals in the mind sciences.

I often wondered if Bill's Buddhism would eventually become as disappointing to him as I imagined my father's Catholicism did? When the old Latin mass was discontinued to be replaced by English translations under Vatican II, and Dad understood fully the ordinary words he'd chanted so long in that romantic dead language -- the magic of the rituals evaporated. He was outraged to see his young priest, Father Paul, pull up to our house in white tennis shorts -- on his bicycle! Or, a nun in plain clothes playing a guitar at the altar rail and singing folk songs as a part of the mass. This was a long way from his historic parish church in New Orleans.

I often wondered if Bill and his illustrious scientific friends were to suddenly discover that "Om" translated to "Oi" or some other really mundane word, and all those magical chants were translated into the equivalent of "Kum ba Ya," would they still find enchantment? I suspect that it was irreverent thoughts like these that kept me from joining the flight to Himalayan Heaven. It might have been different had I shared in the mind altering adventures that others in my new world could speak of with such awe. Made me feel naive, unknowing, out on the fringe, but too fearful to cross the fragile lines that separated me from madness. I'd been just close enough to those edges to respect my mental well-being.

On the other hand, there were surely enough inexplicable phenomena in Bill's belief system than I'd ever experienced in my own religious life. And, there was just enough respect to keep me humble and in awe. Between what I observed in my life with Bill, Tarthang Tulku, and later with Lama Wangdor, combined with the anomalies in my own life, my spiritual life has become a jumble of weirdness. I'd never been able to separate my personal spiritual anomalies from my ordinary everyday life. I resisted the temptation to assign them religious significance. Times of super-sensitivity, those times when I'd experience communicating across space that would distort my sense of discontinuity; place me out of synch with time. Jean Neighbor (psychiatrist) had convinced me long before that this was a primitive, universal, and often unnoticed human ability that was civilized out of most of us, and that for reasons unknown, I'd retained the awareness of the phenomenon and yielded to it easily. That it was in response to this strange lapse into some other dimension that humans created religions. Made sense to me, and required little proof to be viable and rational... .

Good Friday is nearly over.

Resurrection is only hours away... .