Not looking at the previous blog entries, ill-written, jumbled, sketches skipping around, not facing the actual work of writing...
We watch in slow motion as Mother Nature becomes part of the book, part of the church, the logos, as it in fact always has been and will be. Harvey, followed by Irma, the American majority being the American majority, developing, building, moving in, fitting in, driving to work, then back to the tract town homes, responsible, working on fulfillment, living the consumer lifestyle aimed for self-satisfying material success, and meanwhile, the sea is rising, and on top of that and the torrential rains, a string of major hurricanes. All of us guilty, but some of us more sensitive, less about consumption, more about the smaller footprint...
Two servers have taken extended vacations at the same time, and the part time people are filling in, so don't expect too much from them. I hit the Safeway after a busy shift, and when I get back home finally, lugging things back in the courier bag on my shoulder, Orion's belt almost vertical, three stars in a clear night sky, it's hard to feel sleepy. I putter around, watch the development of Hurricane Irma, an overlay of all the development in Southern Florida's tracts to the west of Miami and the Everglades, get in a bike ride, pleased with the adjustments of the new bicycle saddle, leather, with anatomical cut-outs, have a chili dog minus the bun, take a pill and go off to sleep. I wake to call mom, have some tea, make breakfast, encounter the runs, and go back to bed to read and rest. Meditations turn to dream. Ragweed, sapping my strength, is weighing me down.
And one of the few things to please me now at my age and in this time seem to be thoughts of Peter and Paul, of the organism participated in what they call The Catholic Church, entering into which people become an organic logos of the one true God, entering into the life of Jesus Christ.
I did not get to any church today, no. I got up too late, too tired, my schedule completely off. The church is a community, but today, a day off, I am laying low, licking my wounds, a bit of television to keep me company, "endless grilled shrimp at Red Lobster," before facing the dishes, trash night, the laundry. Peace and quiet.
Downtown here, after the 11AM therapist appointment, I would go over to Saint Matthew's, coming by the alley from the backside of the great red brick church, into the side door, as Madam Korbonski liked to do. 12:05 Mass. Following along, and even taking communion, careful to kneel at the end of the pew, bow as I accept, crossing myself afterward.
But take the Church back to the apostles, to Peter, to Paul. Back to the juice, the original wine. Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man. The blinding light and the voice striking the soldier down, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? Take us back, and then, to encounter the original form.
When you don't have the time or energy to write, burdened by work and this and that, there's not the time go back over earlier things, perhaps to edit, or clarify. You have to keep, with what time you have, the ball rolling forward. Writing is a tiny version of the things that happen in the celestial sky, always ticking, always moving, sun, moon, planets, stars, constellations, constant motion. And so is everything.
After the efforts of hospitality, the slightly pandering to humor of the jovial aspect, and even the serious aspect of it, feeling inexplicably sinful despite all of one's bone and flesh involved hard work and load bearing, one craves incense, a church-like quiet and decorous behavior to be counted on. One craves a kind of personal quiet, sad as it might initially feel. This is work. This is an effort, even as you'll never quite know which parts of it are misplaced and which might be track.
"There is but one God." This is still a radical and revolutionary statement. Still out of place in the modern city with all the abeyance to the popular gods and all the discussions the less guileless will cleverly engage in. Will all the geopolitical details even matter much, once this globe of Earth regains its strength and viability as a part of the logos of the church, regains its proper place in such a way as it, by necessity, commands the attention it deserves.
Think of the pious people who took to the presence of the early church, the initial acts. One must as an individual constrain to the reality of the just divine, just as the Earth's climate must, just as sea levels must rise, as sea temperatures must rise, just as native flora bear dying off. The unjust parts of the being must too die off, the being finally getting serious. There are things at stake. The writer will stop with the stories that do not matter, will stop pandering to the many gods of consumption, will watch his own habits.
It is hard, very hard, to get serious. It takes a long long long time. To get serious, in such a way, very old, traditional, would be unnatural to anyone immersed in modern life. It would even seem unnatural to think, having viewed one's own self from the lens of the rational necessarily self-interested self-protecting member of the popular large, of some form of going into, joining with, reclaiming a spiritual life based on being organized around Jesus Christ and the church. How would one even enter into such a thing, old fairy tales, quaintly faithful childlike innocence lining pews. Is this what they mean by, "wrestling with an angel?"
Watching television I could almost gasp now at twelve thirty in the morning as Irma, September 9, scraping the northern coast of Cuba pauses, to fix direction, anticipating its turn north, a direct line to Florida.
Have faith, Jesus said, more or less, to the men with him when the storm rose on the lake, as waves rose, as winds howled, as the boat began taking water. The storm is part of all of this, part of being a disciple, part of being with The Son of Man. Indeed, what might you expect, given how life is. Quite normal, the storm. Does, one hates to ask, the storm serve a purpose, a purpose aligned with the balance of That Which Is, the one God of the Old Testament and the New, who is nameless, an I Am.
The apostles would have known that, what the storm is like, the radical remaking, the transformative process into the new reality.
The "Come to Jesus moment," they call out sometimes on the night news coverage in the context of the political life... The speech pattern, the habit of modern dialog. But what would it actually be like, actually entail?
But how could you not be inspired, modern cynicism aside, by the tale of Jesus gently calling to Simon Peter, an ordinary fisherman, a failure in the sense that he must keep toiling, even when he catches no fish as he did that day, working close to naked. Peter knew himself to be a sinner, and though we might have no idea to the specifics of his own self-estimation as "a sinful man," we get it, our own uselessness to live an actively pious life helpful to others. The littleness of our accomplishments even when we have a day off from the regular steady toil... frittered away with self-grooming, with household chores that bear precedence over whatever social life you might struggle to have with your own hours such as they are, as if you had the energy to overcome the lonelies. That shrugging off of Peter's is a realistic detail of the story, and so are the words of Jesus himself, quiet, understated, "fishers of men." As if there weren't enough distractions for these poor fishermen trying to take care of things, their families. To take that step, to be a disciple, to go with Jesus Christ to be a fisher of men, would be a step into a great unknown, and if not the complete resigning abolishment of a customary career, a step into a form of unemployment, in modern terms.
Jesus would have liked him, this sinful man, the fisherman Simon Peter. He liked him for a reason, for good reason, for excellent reason. Jesus was not a loquacious type, not to waste his words, and his words toward Peter are cleverly selective in their choice, as they would be throughout the whole interchange between the two. "It is good that we be here," the humble fisherman says, as if anyone is listening, while the luminaries speak with each other upon the ridge of the Mount of Olives. (I am relying heavily on Father Barron's Word on Fire, explicating Catholicism.)
Perhaps he, Peter, was honest, to a fault, maybe he was bashful, overly polite, maybe given to amateur attempts at poetry, thus the thoughtful eloquence of his lines. Perhaps he was intelligent beyond his job and societal function. He would have been at a crossroads of humanity, dealing with all types. There is no mentioned woman in his life? His mother's dwelling? Maybe his goodness was interpreted by the practically minded women of his age as a bit odd, not exactly creepy, not living in a creepy kind of way but a bit off from the usual husband type, a friend, in that awkward spot that left Peter with enough time to ponder sinful thoughts when he was not hard at work as a fisherman merchant.
For Peter the world came to pause for him, when the Jesus the Christ approached. As when watching on television a massive hurricane approaching. That small break so craved for in the tiring routine, what's next in life? how to get there? how to change? coming toward him. The great storm that brings fresh air along with its destruction of the old and the past.
For Paul, different, but also a beautiful story. The voice of the master calling, gently despite the show of heavenly command. The voice of a lover who's been persecuted, had imposed upon him the embarrassment of interpreted motives, all of which that missed the mark, the human being, the heart, the real intent unrequited, but still one's job to call upon people, as gently, as eloquently, as poetically, as truthfully, as honestly one can. Could it have been a woman upon whom Jesus voice comes, "Saul, Saul..." Wanda, Wanda... Maybe that scenario would have raised to many eyebrows, raised the intrusiveness of interpretation. In a way, that ties us back into Peter's situation, the way this writer has formulated it based upon his own experience, all a writer has at the end of the day to go on...
Peter, Jesus, Saul, they all have that misplacement of understanding in common. This sense of being treated like a lowlife. This sense of being in an injustice that goes far into personal lives, for more personal than the justice of the normal laws, the lawyers, the paperwork, the court, the judge and the jury. There does seem to be a hypersensitive to these sort of problems in the New, that if thy neighbor accuses thee, seek reconciliation before thou has lost everything...
A creature of political fortune, Lincoln--we overuse him--could write about the loss of the bondsman's two hundred years of unrequited toil, perhaps in the same vein, the thousand shocks that flesh and reputation are heir to, the stabs because of offenses, that hit the good as much as the bad are stuck with for one small social mistake or another. Jesus cleanses. The old literature, the tales of Job and Jonah, cleanses. The storm is calmed, the disciples remain in the boat, engaged. Not cast off and away, as those who would be by buying into all the modern gods. Only the one true who is and must be nameless and unseen, coming forth through faith...
The moon is above now, the crickets cheeping rhythmically, without with syncopation of the departed cicada, and the writer writes what he can and the clock ticks, the laundry groans in the basement, the oven beeps coming up to temperature for cooking burgers.
Would Peter and Paul have ever met? Two different personalities, one could say. Paul, Saul, was, obviously in a certain realm, prosecutorial, a man with an ambitious career, putting himself ahead while others go down, a zealous kind. Then he reformed, and one mode turned into quite another thing. Peter might have taken things out upon himself, but he was not an up in arms hater, but more of a go along with it kind of guy, thus distinguishing Jesus as someone above his own sort of walk of life. Jesus begged to differ with one, the other he more or less confronts, albeit in an honest way, not mincing his words, as if they had a history together, a point of commonality.
The word of history tells us that the two did meet. Paul came to visit Peter for fifteen days in Jerusalem.
Peter, a strong man, intelligent, sensitive, poetic, a good guy, a good conversationalist, an adventurous sort, had run afoul of the self-centered opportunistic priggish authority types of Judea and whatnot. An ostracism, rather than support, from the womenfolk. The women folk didn't necessarily mean it, but their efforts were brutal upon him, such that he didn't mind talking to fish or muttering with the fishermen types. Peter, a wandering type, not unfriendly with strangers, but an adult grown self-conscious about this fault of irresponsibility, so that he is attempting to cover himself from the long standing subliminal accusations against him mirrored by the charges against him which he denies before the cock crows of following strange itinerant types. Jesus knows this about him, reading his heart. Knowing the peculiar misery that the life of a fisherman, being so busy in the moment as to forget your problems, during the down time, the self-questioning, as bartenders face in late hours before sleep and before shifts...
Paul, of a very intelligent and lettered legal mind, abhorrent to the liberties the new sect of the Christ was taking, was on the other side, a paranoiac, or rather a realist, about the machinations of society to create deviants out of people. Never would he be naive drifter of waves like Peter, gullible. A great relief he found in his dramatic conversion, nailed down by the holy light, the heavenly finger pointed at him, "stop."
Peter begins as gullible, an over believer, tamed by the hardness of life.
Paul begins as the ultimate skeptic, whose eyes must be opened...
Of two different temperaments were they.
And yet, and yet, they found a common ground, happily, even joyfully, despite.
Do we live through our own lives primarily as a way to discover the essentials of the incarnations of such figures as those of the inception of the church, people like Peter and Paul? Perhaps the analysis of our own little personal biographies are a means of understanding the original archetypes.
A radical, as Jesus was, is a problem, for others, even for himself. But the radical side is the creative side...