Monday, November 16, 2009

Transition (not noun, verb, adjective, but something more than all of these)


Image found here:

Maybe it was ten years ago when a group of friends and I did a tarot exercise in which this was "my card." I don't remember if we drew these cards at random from the major arcana, or if we determined them in some other way. Heck, I remember very little about that experience, except we had fun.

What I do remember is this: there is a stage at which one is at the end of something and at the beginning of something new.

Supposedly my soul is at that place.

I was telling my mother recently that I wasn't sure if I was an "old soul" or a "young soul." A palm reader a long time ago told me I was a young soul, because I didn't have lots of lines on my palm. Well, I was 13 or so, so I could be wrong about that.

Maybe more accurately, as I often feel old and naive at the same time (in a spiritual way), I am in both places.

I don't know what I'm ending and what I'm beginning. It's not physical death, but perhaps this lifetime, or epoch, or whatever, is a transitional time.

It's very uncomfortable.

I saw "Where the Wild Things Are" yesterday. It's not a simple kid's movie. Max, the young star, is in a stage of growing up...definitely still a kid (eight or nine perhaps?), still full of imagination, but also full of that energy that doesn't know where to go. Kind of a frustrated mania. The world doesn't respond according to the wizardly wimsy of a child's mind. Max goes into another world in which the creatures he encounters are easy to subdue, and they are excited about his strange, stream-of-conscious dictates. They eagerly agree to build a complicated city with tunnels and magical powers, and participate in a rumpus, and a dirt-clod fight.

But the creatures are not puppets. They have emotions - they are in many ways like kids. They don't always act the way Max might want them too.

Max is struggling with reality vs. fantasy, with growing up, with pent-up volcanic oozing kid-ness. It's not a moralistic movie, a predictable formula movie, a condescending or patronizing movie. It's primal and real, real, real.

I had a tear-duct geyser at several points while experiencing this masterpiece. Where the Wild Things Are is about, not "about" IS transition. There is no thesis or metaphor, even though it applies to leaving one's parents on the way to life in adulthood, to encountering middle age, to changing a career, to breaking up with (or falling in love with) someone, to getting seriously ill, to dying.

I know this crisis mode. I am Max. Max did not remind me of myself, or illuminate my self. He unlocked my heart and crawled inside and we adventured and raged and cried and laughed together.

The postscript is that I felt moved to go to Mass today for lunch, and I went back and forth between the Episcopal Mass that starts at noon and the Catholic one that starts at ten minutes after. I'm fortunate that I work so close to two different traditions who have daily Mass.

I decided that I didn't have to stick to my promise not to return to the Catholics, so I started down the street to the cathedral. Then I was easily deterred. I had no money in my pocket for the collection plate, and walking a few blocks to church might wear me out for the walk from the bus stop to home later, and besides, why the heck do I want to sit through a Mass anyway? The money machine was closer, so I went there, got some cash out for the next couple weeks, and turned back to work. I remembered the childish lecture about the proper way to receive Communion. I remembered how easy it is to turn on the "I'm so sorry, Lord" faucet whenever I participate in Christianity. How every prayer must include contrition. I used to fall asleep at night trying to get the whole prayer formula down...acknowledgment (thou art great), contrition (I'm so sorry), thanksgiving (for this and for that), and supplication (please give me this and that). ACTS is the abbreviation.

They don't want you to forget anything I guess.

I rarely even got to the thanksgiving part. I guess I see the point in the formula (though contrition is an odd thing...perhaps for another blog entry).

So, hey, church, my first instinct in the choice to go to Mass was - guess what? - that I should go to confession and be oh-so-sorrowful that my anger with the pope and the church leaders has led me astray or something.

But, see, I'm not sorry, and I'm not going to force sorrow onto myself so I feel worthy to take Communion.

Not gonna do it.

And that's when I remembered the Tarot.

Peace and all good.

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