Friday, October 20, 2017

Word fatigue.

Words were not always meant to apply to the conventional life.  There is that sense to Zen koans.  Words allow us to reach beyond convention, beyond the mental trends of the day, beyond the bullying of the words that come to us impersonally, barraging us, on screens.  People use words, of course, to bolster up living the conventional life, and so the words are not very weighty, materialist, an outfit to wear, a topic for distraction, do this, do that.  To find the real words, one must go digging.

Beyond the conventional life.   Buddhist thought.  Perspective.  Vast kalpas of time.  Worldly empire and fortune, kingdoms, coming and going, flashing by.  Mountains come, mountains go.  Renounce the idea of stability, solidity.  Thought patterns are the same.  Leave the mode of dualistic thinking behind.  Reach beyond, for truth.

The words.  The words come like rain.  On asphalt, on sidewalk, on brick, on country tarmac roads.  First a drop, then two more.  The bricks are dry, hot sometimes.  Sometimes, humid.  Then the rain comes, as it will.  Snow, sublime, falling, covering itself.  Acts of nature.  Weather.

My father said, and I did and did not understand at the time, being young, bad money drives good money out of the market.  At 53, I have a better sense of what he might have meant.

The Zen Buddhists have a sense of how life is remorseful, properly.  Store up treasures, and they will be gone.  The bar evening is okay, smooth, some sense of decorum, and then one person, strange, in the corner, facing away.  Then two more.   Then another.  Interactions.  The night quickly gets strange, bizarre.  I go downstairs, for a little break, and my coworker says, "hey, wasn't that Dennis who just walked in."  Oh, noooooo, I say.  Shit.  Should have locked the door.

You have some wine, to ease the night's awake, finding some energy to cook, the television a bit more interesting.  And then the next day, you pay for it, lack of energy, depressed mood, of course.

You find a nice girl, you like her, she likes you, but then a moment's inattention, or a frivolity, and then she is gone, gone for life.   A stupid misunderstanding at an age where words are still important, truthful, not gainfully used to manipulate, to get your own way.  You work hard.  People take advantage, pushing you into something the market affords but which you cannot.  What a favor.  One guy comes along, more attentive, shrewd, takes all your poem away.

The old writer liked to lay on his side, particularly when he was feeling ill, allergic, or low in energy. Maybe he should get a haircut, or do something productive, but there he was, awake, and the words would come to him, quite on their own, like Groucho talking almost.  The old writer did not give a shit what people thought of him any longer, nor of his writing.  Lying so, he wondered if a babe in the womb, yes, must, sense the effect of words, hear them distantly, like changing light.  Some words would provoke different sensations.  It was all very interesting.  The child could sense them, already quite curious, wanting to be a part of them.  Sometimes, laying there, so, curled up almost, he thought of Jesus lying in the ropes, napping.   How words came to him, having faith in them.

The stories told, of the vineyard, and the worker, and the vineyard owner, those are put in monetary terms, how even the last will be taken away, in the admonishing tales Jesus relates.  In the Buddhist understanding, the tableaux seems broader, more expansive, and human things very little.

"It often happens that some kind of crisis is necessary in one's life to make one put forth all one's strength in solving the koan," Suzuki writes in his preface, reflecting on his own time in the Zen monastery.  "To solve a koan, one must be standing at an extremity, with no possibility of choice confronting one.  There is just one thing which one must do."

Like the koans themselves, these words seem to lie out the outer edge of conventional understandings, as are many of Dr. Suzuki's kernels, such as on the spiritual lesson of charity.  (These days more resources are spent on the technology of virtual reality, as somehow it seems to pay off, even, or perhaps particularly, in Japan, than on the value of teaching of words that lead us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of nature and reality.)  Would the busy Wall Street Banker, the lawyer, the lobbyist of some special field be concerned with the magnificent greatness of a koan, I don't think so.  (Preferring the virtual reality of his own bank account and the politics thereof...)

I gather I remember how a Foucault, a Chomsky, makes the point about how words are used effects our reality, our political reality.  But this seems a lesson, for me anyway, that takes time to grasp.  Probably because I am naive, an English major, a student of poems, sacred texts, fiction, places, contexts in which words get their due, which no one can then take away.

But meditating on shame, how shame seeps in to what one does as a job, say, waiting on people--there's nothing wrong with that, if you can take it--or what one makes as income, compared to the successful happy Joneses of Contentment Lane and happy children striving forth like their parents, perhaps that is one way to attempt to try to walk up to that monastery and knock on the door to see what happens.  Then go back and read that part in Corinthians again often read at weddings, about love, as it is, in words' estimation.

(Every one can do it, get words, if not distracted, I suppose.  "It matters not what path a man take," the Buddha says.)

The old writer lay back, and then on his side.  Meditation.  How it is that it is hard for me to be happy?  Well, it is written in Buddhist scripture that one must "cultivate the sense of humility and remorse by reading books and sayings left by the Buddha and the Patriarchs."  I could say, look where words have gotten me, he thought.  But is there a better option, a truer one?  To not be so happy is just to be realistic I guess, a sign I'm attempting to do some work, such as it is.  Words should not pander...

The book I wrote, I've come around to see a certain kind of Zen in it.  The Chekhov ending.  My dad wrote me an excellent letter in his hand writing, that the character here is a Theosophist, and that he's doing a pretty good job at it.  I had a harder time seeing that, when he wrote that letter, seven years ago, or so, but I knew what he meant.  I knew from whence he was coming from...  I'm happy with that.  I'm content with that...

Yeah, you think you're stronger than you are.  You put up with what you feel you can put up with, but it is not neat, it is not clean.  There is the fog, minor variant of the fog of war.  There is collateral damage.  There is the unpredictability.  And when you're killing yourself just so you can have health insurance, too clouded by the battle even to know any better, one week blending into another, two days off slept through, more or less, well, maybe you should do something about it.

A good soldier, you put up with it.  Your boss tells  you, it's not that bad, it's all more or less fair.  But life ticks by.

Shame is the motivator.  That's what you have been getting to the bottom of, in therapy, mentally, physically.  You've done your job in other people's adventures, and now it's time to start, anyway, to move on.  And you begin by protecting yourself, realizing the burden you can carry, healthily.

Maybe lots of writers are driven by shame.  It's something that they must overcome, and this is the subliminal story, the finding of grace, for that odd being who knew he or she had to write.  To overcome that particular shame of being that sort of village/family idiot, the person who cannot fit in, who must express themselves, venturing into strange places the more successful would strenuously avoid and consider it the worst kind of defeat to even be part of.   Those are areas which I have been to, the odd spaces you never in your lifetime thought you'd end up being a part of.

Give the guy some credit for studying primate behavior up close.  That in the long lens will be how my work will be seen.  Not unlike a Jane Godall.  That was the point of the work.  The point was not to drive myself into the ground

Animal Reunions on PBS.

 Do we face shame out of the strength of our mother's love...  Primitive, archaic, of a psychological depth, of a biological depth that can not rationally be understand, fully.

Sickness is healing.  Purifying.  Clarifying.  A break from.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The era of touch screens.  Still sick, the day off comes, what to do.  Slept all day yesterday, and today, awake early, not feeling well, but not knowing what to do.  I cannot resist poking on to Google news, nor Facebook.  The Presidential train wreck, hubris, egotism, hypocritical, lashing out at any perceived slight...  The devices match, and the bizarre desire to know something in the vacuum of words or arranged activity finds its mark, time and mental energy frittered away.  We asked for it, and we got it, just what we deserved with our hits and rapt curious zombie attention.

Sins merge, become all the same, sexism, nationalism, bigotry, environmental degradation, selfishness...  the quest for power, for security, for strength that does not exist as such at all, beyond to that which is freely given to the world anyway.

An email from First of the Month.Org saves me from plunging into the superficial.  Perhaps I can return to Suzuki's The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk as I lay on the couch with a vague headache.  I was never that happy here in this veil of city life, not knowing what to do with it.

There are many senses to bring into play, and many deeper understandings, quite away and apart from the logical and the practical.  People, when sensitized, can sense things about other people, and feel some sort of bond, even if the economic practicalities of the situation would laugh at you, like an old folktale.

One wakes up in the same situation he has always woken to.  Life.  A feeling of disability, a lack of energy or comprehension of serious matters of the professional world.

Zen comes to mind.  The answer is in no answer.  Almost the same thing as what I learned in Benjamin DeMott's English 11, taking apart a poem to see what the deeper thing was so that you could answer questions about it.  The closest thing one could get to a direct understanding, the questions, asked, then answered.  As close as you could ever get to the poem's mind.

I just feel really stupid these days.  Is this in part due to my own bored addiction, my laziness, letting my mind wander the easy dull path and not the inner focussed one.

And yet, looking upon the news, a constant parade of garden variety human ridiculousness.  If anything, the zen buddhist urge to retreat from such noise, to concentrate on the important stuff, rings truer and truer as an effective way to practice living.

The mind, the attitude, these things change a thousand times a day.  Therefore you wonder if you can trust these flights of mind and fancy and mood.  It's all just panic, needlessly so.  And the modern world of commercial materialism and progress is profoundly unsettling enough to poke and prod our poor minds into all kinds of things.

None of this is new.  All of this is known.  The sound of one hand clapping.

Perhaps it is when you are feeling really stupid that simply must turn the matter around.  Fateful it is that you are not wrong.  Rather you are in that ballpark the confines and fences of which are never really known, not through the intellect, but perhaps simply by being born, itself not an easy thing, but a natural one.

Less Biblical, "go forth and multiply"--it's not that simple--and more of Zen mind.

The world is made sick.  The individual sickness of Harvey Weinstein, figure of media power, bleeds out upon others and the innocent.  One recent news piece described his condition as one of self-loathing, and I'm coming around to seeing that.  His sickness is not that of some dumb college kid's heartache trying the romantic dance out for the first time, but of a power grab, of intimidation and damage inflicted upon perceived rivals.  The sickness of Anthony Weiner fits in there too somehow, somewhere on the power ego chain.  The sickness of such individuals makes us readily self-protective, even where perhaps we are as weak as ever.

 Accusations hit the mark too late.  Those flourished early as practice in adolescence are more mini acts of trying on power and ego, to some extent.  Do we go on with accusations, or do we see the light?  Take the beam from thine own eye.

But that is harder to put into words.  The worst evils, remember, are done in the name of domination, not in the name of peace.

Powerful lessons take a long time to absorb.  The mind, the ego, still plays tricks on you, meddling in the past, disturbing its peace, its form of the real education we receive be living life.  The rain falls on the just as well as the unjust.

Fear and cowardice is, perhaps, as much a sickness as aggressive coercion.  Everyone wants to be at peace, victim and victimizer.  A mind clean and clear, not burdened with the thought formations that are based upon illusions of the solid fixed self.

It is hard for the fearful of mind to stand up for peace.  Like they've had to be in a room with a bully, either expectedly or unexpectedly.  No one is really clear from such illnesses, and that's why the mental habit of finding peace and koan is of use.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I am sad today, what's new, and feeling lonely.  I have slept through the whole day.  I called in sick, after vomiting in the metal trashcan by the bed.  I'd taken ibuprofen, a sip of pedialyte, soda water, water from the glass on the little blue bedside table, gone into the kitchen for a sip of V8, a tentative bite of quinoa, a tablespoon of cough syrup.  I had a hot headache, a cough, aches and chills the days leading up.  After getting up to empty out the bucket of liquid content of a wine like color, rinsing my mouth out, a quick brush of the teeth, I go back to bed and curl up under the comforter, praying I don't have to work tonight, the last of a four shift run, jazz night's peculiar swarm of requests to be entertained.  My brother's supposed to call.  I send a text into work, and an hour or so later, it's confirmed through the boss, via a text from my friend L who works the day shift and makes the schedule.

My brother has done well with life in the city.  He has excelled, I would say, knows how to be self-confident, knows how to get what he wants, knows how to be serious, and what not to take seriously, I suppose, as far as the things of the spirit and the psyche go.  He is of blood type B, the blood type of my broad cheeked boned father, rest his soul, the blood of the Mongol, adept at adapting to the conditions of city life and strife.  He'd called me yesterday, to check in, but I was wearily getting ready for work, calling him back from the woods I pass through.  "Are you working Saturday?"  "Well, I'm on call.  I don't know."  "Can you make us a reservation for four at our table...  if you're working (he implies.)"  Okay, I'm getting off easy.  I don't feel up for a substantive talk.  And that's part of the reason I am tucked under the blankets trying to find a comfortable way to lie still, in and out of dream and thought and the memory of things as they happened with the old girl, the Princess, of many times I didn't have the bravado to follow through with her.  And when you're sick you think of comforts, like a hug, and so I think of that time I went by her suite one sunny after noon early in the school year.  I'd noticed she'd been wearing a long skirt, split up the side, wanted to complement her on it.  Her roommate let me in, while speaking on the phone, and then she herself came out, said hi, and then turned and walked back across the mailroom and down the stairs to her room, and I was too stupid, too callow, too seriously minded, too emotional, to follow her glide away, as I should have.  Things you think about.  Things you think about when you are not feeling well and subject to depressions.

I on the other hand have not done well in the city.  And yes, it's sad.  Quite sad, in fact.  So that every day is quite sad.  So the thought of how a little bit of erotic tension could have had some small relief, really on many occasions, there more than thirty years ago, rises up from now and then, and always clouded by my blindness, foolishness, stupidity, you name it.  Healthy relief in that little battle of subtle communications at the gut level as are uncontrollable.  Even back then, I guess, I was weighted  down.  Weighted down by something only in the last few years I've sought to perhaps isolate.  As if you could fix a broken watch through isolating a piece of it.

I am from the type O blood, as is my mother, the Irish side.  Temperamental.  More in need of the fine tuning of returning to old ways that were ingrained in the human body long before the city came about, even before agrarian times.  Way before the modern diet came about passed on from the city, even more so than the farm table as far as influence.

When you sick and lying there listless, head and other parts of general ache, exhausted, run down, there is a chance to cleanse yourself from the habit of looking at the iphone, Google news, Facebook, Mail, headlines, whatever else.  That was not the way thirty years ago.  My father's era, certainly as an educator, his diction and habit of intellectual information went back, back at least as far as the Nineteenth Century, as up to date as he was with the Science Magazine articles of the current time.

I pull out an old book, a rare book.  D. T. Suzuki's The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk, originally published in 1931.  It has pictures in it, drawn by a fellow who knew the ways of life in such places as the Zen Monastery.  As a young man he lived as a monk.

I ponder, maybe that is the way, to seek the silence, the meditation, to renounce the pain of sexual bodily desire and other such desires...  Maybe those old cats knew something...

Mom called around 4:30, having woken from a nap.  I need to go visit her.  It is one in the morning now.  I turn on the television to watch the news.   The Zen monks live light.  A bowl for rice, a rob, leggings, sandals.  As a young man, Suzuki would walk through the night, thirty miles, to visit his mom on weekends when he was teaching English.  Like my own father's, his father passed away when he was young, about six.  My father saw him once, speaking at Johnson Chapel, elderly.
Unfinished notes from last week, attempts at getting things off the writer's chest:

The first day off is marked with some sort of pain, the body very tired, wanting rest, not too chipper.  The second day starts in shame that is overcome, eventually.  It's a day to mend the spirit, to return to non-dualistic thinking.  The green tea drinker experiments with coffee, reluctant to read what is written the day before, but for the psychological progress of it in the depressed and not bookish enough state.  Words, I need words.  Was there a dream had to bring out as a starting place...

The city is full of illusion.  Better to go back where there are books, the primary thing.

I lack action these days.

It feels like you have to hide your real self, she said, my therapist.

Yes, that's what I do tending bar.  It happens less when I'm writing.

It is not fun being broke.  It is not fun not knowing where you are going to end up, a living, a career, a profession, where to live, etc...  The whole D.C. experiment...  I stood up for the right things, I wasn't selfish as far as my job...

I talk to my wine guy down on Dupont.  The wine rep report, sommeliers of the new sort pick out a strange list, orange wines, natural wines, wine rep helps them out, then three months later, somm and the wine list are gone, replaced.  Yes, many new bars, but many new bars closing.  Mockingbird Hill closed, not a huge loss, in my opinion.  Were the banks giving out money to open all these places?  I found the place a bit tedious, weighed down by the sherry only theme.  And even there is so much wine out there, too much, too many little companies...

But after so many years humping it in the restaurant, cannot make the market's rent...  Five shifts?  Can't really do it anymore.  Stuck with the shifts I am stuck with.  Difficult enough.

Really, a year of difficult thinking, as if one's own mind on its own weren't bad enough.

So, I had often thought it was my version of Siberian prison.  A la Dostoevsky...

The writer is one of those (unfortunate) souls who does not know what he is doing with himself.  There is not a lot of thought given to profession, beyond the writing.  There have been too many things weighing him down for him to get on very far with life.

Allergies again.  I feel like crap.  Slept all day.  Nap on couch.  Earlier I speak to my mother about all the stuff I have, too much stuff.  Pani Korbonska's Encyclopedia Brittanica.  Fourteenth Edition bound in burgundy leather.  Sizeable, a book to hold.  Pages to open.  It already feels in our time like something from Gandalf, a tome of ancient sorcery, ancient realities to be plumbed, referred to, magic to work out from its pages.   I take out the W to look for the entry on wine.  I would like to toss its volumes into the recycling bin, but it holds within an older kind of knowledge, historically comprehensive, and each time I open one I see the superiority of its pages to the quick fix of going to Google.

The body is human.  You write when you can write.  It's a boring routine.  I go and get some wine.  It's Saturday night, I got up very late.  I will not allow myself to go out, because I'm broke, more or less, not enough money on hand even to get of D.C.  There is nothing worth writing about at the moment.  Tberapy has led me on to think on shame as a pattern.  Do I tend to place myself in situations which are shameful to my authentic self?  As a sort of martyr?   As a bartender, I am at best partially seen.  Too much noise, too many things to do for me to even open my mouth.  Do I do that in order to write?  On the day off, how far do I even get with this writing....

Writing is a strange process.  You never know.   You have to write shit.  You have to get out the list, all the items.

Friday, October 13, 2017

I'm running late, but I can make it, and then I'll go to work and then the week will be over.  So, off to therapy.  Tired, but I get up, I shower, a cup of yesterday's green tea from the fridge, load up, and out on the bike.  And soon enough I am heading down 19th Street, weaving my way through the backed up traffic, cars, fed ex, trucks, lincoln navigators, delivery vans, construction pylons, crossing M, and pulling up at the corner at L Street across from the food trucks, into the building and up to the fifth floor.  The office building canyons.

So, what do we talk about today...  Where did we leave off.  Always makes me nervous.Dr. H opens the door just as I come into the reception area.  Ahh, here we are.

Acknowledge how hard it was...  shame is not successful as a motivating force...  a challenging mental space back then, a lot of emotions flying to the surface... the let downs, Amherst English Department...  what messaging did I receive about what being an adult is like...  rebellion is another form of tie to the control of adults, the opposite of being authentic...  Do not underestimate what a difficult time you were going through, college days, things coming apart a bit.

She observes that, in the wake of the visit from the boss, the big chef from overseas, that I refer to myself as a boy.  Well, a boy in the sense of being the guy waiting on everyone as they talk away as adults.  I'm a boy, not an adult, as I roll down 19th on my bike, not in a car, coming down reluctant and anxious into the bright light, the sounds, the heat, the strutting...  And I am tired, being the last guy there at the restaurant to the late night social life of the boss along with his peccadilloes for the last two weeks of shifts.  He's my friend.  He is family.  Huge respect for him, he respects me.  I love his visits.  I learn some history of the restaurant and of hopes for where it might be headed in positive directions.  It's a great place.  The problem is the level of engagement, and I do my best to engage the customers who come through.

So, she asks me somewhat rhetorically, where does shame come up now, in what situation...  Is shame related to a pattern I am relying upon as a sort of mode.

At the bar, the spotlight is on me in a particular role, but the real person is only partially seen.  Do I feel like I have to hide my real self, the content behind what is seen.

I need to develop a tolerance for the uncomfortable feeling of the shame that is related to, somehow, the emotions that occurred when adults let me down at a particular important juncture of life.  That shame is not the best of motivations lets me in on the idea that it wasn't all my fault.


And then the Harvey Weinstein news.  That had come out, days before.  I mentioned it to her in passing.  Because I had been accused of the very same thing, "sexual harassment."  But Harvey, now that's some real harassment, not the sort of awkward bring a girl flowers and have her reject you sort. Blowing up an squirrel with an atomic bomb, I sort of thought.  And then there's that guy, the big bully, the fast talking creep, the power guy, big old Harvey doing all that stuff, and finally they come out of the woodwork, emboldened.  Everyone knew it, the cynical professional says.  The journalists had too much to lose back then, so they thought, thinking of individual gain, in those days before the online social media sites we all visit took the advertising money away from print journals.  Magazine articles optioned, to be turned into Miramax film productions and Oscars.  Advertising dollars for the old print glossies.  Oscar parties.

But we are, if we are perpetrators, to some extent, victims as well.  And a stressful childhood can make you vulnerable to being vulnerable enough to land in the kind of situations which are set up for the continuing of sexual harassment.  Age difference, power difference, vulnerability as far as career, security, etc.  Shame is the motivator, shame is the strange flavor tasted on a daily basis.  Remembered and lived on in all our interactions.  Am I acting like a creep if...  Should I send her an email...  Is it okay now having met her that I follow up...  Every time I go through that in my mind, which does not help my self-confidence, this looking over my own shoulder...

There's something perpetuating about it, perpetuating.  Shame leads to more shame.  Silence leads to hidden life.

You have to reach a point of stillness and quiet in order to write.  Writing is the only way of thinking, at least if we live a life alone.

Reflections on the Weinstein abuse pattern...  The (desperate) attempt of the perpetrator to cover himself with normalcy....  To make the raising of a charge against him difficult, loaded with threats of loss.  Silence is primary.  And so the threats that you are caught out talking behind their backs, and that this will upset the status quo....

Remember, it's not your fault.  The steady innuendo from the other parties is their thing, not yours.  Fear, anxiety, the feeling of guilt and shame.

It's been a long week at work.  The boss tells me it's been the worst summer ever.  "Worse than bad," he tells me and the veteran busboy.  The next few weeks will tell if there is life still in The Dying Gaul.  Fortunately the night was busy.  It's not just us.  Everyone's numbers are down, all across the town.

Coming out of the office building after my forty five minute session, a good one, productive, I take the stair well and out through the lobby into the bright light.   I order a lamb gyro from a food truck, and wait, taking a small amount of refuge in a dawn redwood tree in its little tree box area, soft limbs, sort evergreen fronds.  A helicopter circles overhead and then comes back again.

So, why the shame, that feeling that has been so steady over all the years since high school, a constant.  The shame leaves me vulnerable.  I don't know what else to say.  And I sense I should have been doing things with my life a long time ago.  But I came to D.C.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

So, why does she not recognize him?  The tomb is open, and the body, as it seems, has gotten up and left.  Where has the body been taken?  She's seen the whole thing, leading up to that, up to and including his death.  We're talking about Jesus here.  You'd think she had a pretty good idea of what he looked like.

But contrary to all expectation, he has disappeared, or rather, his corpus, his body, his corpse.  He had died on the cross, after being scourged quite dramatically, taken down, wrapped in funeral linens, and here is the tomb, courtesy of Joseph of Aramathea.  (sp.)   The woman, Mary, of Magdalena, has come, and the tomb is open, you know the story.

There is a gardener there, so it appears to her.  Politely, distraught, confused, wondering, dislocated, discombobulated, he is the guy to ask.  Uh, sir, would you happen to know...

The risen, he has to catch her almost.  Obviously intelligent, maybe there's a sense of humor lurking here, in the kindness between the two.  Mary, look, it's me.  And with his understanding of human nature, this doesn't surprise him, this strange lack of recognition, to intimate ones, even to family, as if we could not see clearly.  Vision blinded by expectation and other things.

Might make you wonder, how do women see men.  How do women see men anyway.  What clues them off, he is the guy...  What do they see?  Brow, hair, eyes, actions, heart, voice, words, actions, what do they see of us?  Even Mary cannot see Jesus in Jesus standing before her in radiant light.  What gives?  Does it take a special word?  What is the word, then?

You would scare her otherwise, even if you were Jesus.  Even Jesus has to be careful.  Probably because he's a polite sort of human being.  Not strutting around in false attire, big image, big bravado, big show, big pushiness.

Even the crowd preferred Barbaras the criminal, the psychopath, to poor Jesus, when the time came to spare a Jew from the cross at Passover.  The crowd recognized the criminal psychopath abuser of all things holy to the quiet intellectual teacher pure human being.  They could not see Jesus as Jesus.

And she doesn't either.  And then, he speaks, and she does see him, finally.

But if, but if this were an alternate sort of gospel story, less of good news, of our times, now, what if... What if Mary, when the gardener speaks to her, takes upon herself that modern protective armor.  Who is this stranger, scaring her, staring at her?  Who is this man who seems to act like he knows her, knows her when she's looking for one thing and one thing only, the dead body of that man called Jesus the Christ.  He speaks to her, calls her name.  What if she says, who are you, who are you, offended at him from the thoughts in her own mind about how she should be treated and by whom.  This stranger before her.  What if she silences him.  He has to be polite.  She walks away, with her little self-protective victory, her show of power, smug, entitled, uncaring, not looking back.  What happens then to the story?

Would he have bothered to do his work, gone through all the trouble, had he not some firm sense that we human beings are somehow enabled by innate powers to recognize each other.  Thus it natural for Jesus to recognize Peter in Peter.  His story is almost even principally about recognition.  Can we awaken the souls in others of us so that they see us and we see them...