Tuesday, November 07, 2006



Right now my mind is so full of stuff that I want to tell you that it feels like it might burst. And I am so overwhelmed I think to myself that it would be better to cancel this effort and go back to writing snips and bits about the mundane. Besides, there is only one reader urging me on. More are sending e-mails or phoning to discretely assess the state of my health and mind. To the latter group, rest easy, my health and mind are fine. All is well.

And so…to continue…

The day after I discovered and baptized my special retreat, it was odd, how compelled, even excited, I felt about going back there. Weirder still, was the feeling I had that I must properly prepare. The Righteous Forest must be kept pristine, free from stain, in the same way that all efforts are made to keep a new dress clean and free from rips, spills or mud. Allow me to explain with a parable of sorts.

Now as a kid, I only ever had one store-bought dress. A lovely little plaid dress my Dad presented to me after going on a trip. I remember how I wanted that dress to always remain as fresh and pristine and beautiful as it was the day I took it out of the box. To never be contaminated by mud or stains. To avoid the threadbare impact of repeated laundering. For these reasons, it was hard to wear, but at the same time it was equally hard not to wear. That was how I felt about my Righteous Forest. I must never let anything contaminate the spiritual perfection of this place. Too much occupation will wear away the magic. So as much as I wanted to be there, it was as difficult to go there as it was to stay away.

But with due preparation, carefully groomed in body and mind, I went to the Righteous Forest and climbed on my podium stump and looked out over my humble congregation. They were a group as anxious to receive a blessing as I. Except for one. At the back left side of the group was Hazel. She had not been carved by a sawyer as the others had. She was split down one side, sheered off and charred and blackened by a lightning strike. She now stood apart with a skeleton finger pointing accusingly at the sky. Instantly I knew this was one stump-soul that had wandered too far from God to ever return. This was one stump-soul that could cry out in her misery but those cries would never be heard. A strong symbolism of deaf-God rejection that was quite disturbing.

The others were keen to get on with it. So was I, but how does one describe God in a way that a bunch of primitive simple-minded dead-headed stumps can understand? I found them keen, quiet at first and willing to listen, but maybe too keen. Keen enough to fabricate stupid questions that I was ill prepared to answer.

From Mrs. Birch, ‘If God is everywhere, if he is as big as the fullness of the earth and sky, should we ask such a spirit of greatest to come into us or should we seek to enter into his grand expansiveness? We are such small specks in the realm of things. There is no room for air and breath and love and prayer and meditation and all the luggage we need to accommodate God in a comfortable way as a guest within us. So maybe we should expect to go to God, rather than expecting him to come to us.’

Sounds really sensible in theory but what if God misinterprets that kind of request as a death wish? It sounds as ominous as that line in a child’s night prayer that says, ‘And if I should die before I wake…’. Why does spirituality always have to be so intertwined with death? Can’t the two be separated for just a time? So that we can pursue one avidly without feeling like we are falling into a trap? Contemplating earthly redemption rather than after-life redemption? And from a more practical perspective loving God only because he first loved us. Loving him as a caring, all-wise creator, rather than out of fear? Even youngsters know that relationships based on fear can’t be, and never are, sweet harbors of comfort.

And then Mr. Barker asks. ‘Can God come to us? Can he sink to our level? Or do we first need to begin an independent effort that can lift us up to him? As a heavenly creature, his spirit is likely to float a considerable distance above the horizon. Maybe before we can conjoin with God, we need to reach a higher plain. Perhaps we need to take fundamental steps without assistance. Maybe we need to practice a level of righteousness, of honor and integrity, without props or crutches. Maybe it is unreasonable to expect God to lower himself to the base level of our natural stubbornness and self-will. Perhaps the Creator expects us to use the God-given intelligence we were created with (authenticated by a logo stamp that says, ‘Made in the Image of God’) to initially raise ourselves up a kilometer or two to meet him halfway.’

Obviously, the congregation of the Righteous Forest fail to recognize that too much keenness brings one to the brink of utter stupidity. Such stupid questions. Questions that had me stymied and Hazel knew it.

…to be continued…


Blogger Julie Oakley said...

Roberta, just to let you know, I'm still here lapping up your words

4:46 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

So pleased to find you're still with me julie. That's all I needed is just one loyal soul and I guess you're it (smiles).

8:12 PM  

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