Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cosmogenesis, Chapter 1

Here's a new creation story - an attempt to apply the little I know about quantum physics to the age-old human quest for a meaningful myth about where we came from and what our place is in the universe. It has always seemed to me that all that is, is holy - by virtue of its "isness." What does "holy" mean? You look at the light dancing on the water, and tell me.

     Before the Beginning,  Mother God dwelt in a vast sea of potential with Her angels; and they were one in undifferentiated love. And the angels were the wave functions, sweeping tides in a Sea of quantum foam, and in their oneness with the Mother was the great goodness of infinite love and the great solitude of unrealized possibility.
    And the Mother saw that She could not know Herself or Her angels further without allowing for a new kind of goodness, the goodness of particularity.  And since it was in Her nature to desire self-knowledge, She prepared her womb for a great birthing: love made manifest. And in the pains of Her labor She groaned the Word that echoed through the deeps of the quantum Sea and birthed the universe in fire. And the Word was CHOICE.
    And the wave-form angels heard the Word and trembled in awe, for they knew the echo of that Word resounded as a call to them alone.  The Mother gave them choice: to remain wave functions, one with Her being, or to particularize and receive the gift of acting in the universe She had birthed.  And the angels who chose to remain as waves in the quantum Sea would float in the unity of the Mother’s love but be powerless to experience or influence the life of duality, the life of Creation.  The angels who chose to become particles would become co-creators, shaping and guiding the life that sprang forth in endless profusion. But the gift was not without cost.  The particularized angels would have to sever their oneness with Mother God, and be subject to the universal laws of life and death the Mother had set in motion.  They would know the sorrow of separation, and yet have the ability to reflect the glory of the One whence they came and to act with Her creative power.
    And so those first angels, vibrating with the great wonder of all that was, and was to be, answered the call and came forth to make their choice, to participate in the great dance of existence. And these particularized angels were the bodhisattvas and were precious beyond measure to the Mother. For they sacrificed their oneness out of care of the world of life and death, flickering into and out of existence, that the One might look upon Her creation, the love that everywhere mirrors Herself, and know its goodness.
    And so these bodhisattvas, the angels embodied, danced the great dance and became photons and hydrogen atoms and galaxies.  And they entered into relationship with one another as living systems.  And so they became even the earth upon which we stand.  And they walked, crawled, swam and flew over the earth as the living web of being: teachers and guides sent to us by the Mother through their own willing choice to live in time and die for the sake of love.
    People, do you not know that these same angels speak through the rough call of the raven outside your window in the dawn hours?  Do you not see them dancing in the light on the waves of the bay as the sun rises high?  Have you felt them in the touch of your beloved?  Will they not silently reflect the glory of the One as you gaze in the mirror tonight, performing your ablutions before retiring?  I say amen, and amen.

Friday, July 2, 2010

No service will be held

I read the obits in the paper almost every day. No, it's not my age - I've been looking them over for many years. I think it's my fascination with story: who was this person; where did they come from; what did they do; whom did they love; how long did they get to walk in this terrible, beautiful world? You don't get much of that information in the standard newspaper obituary these days, but still there's a texture of someone's life even in just their name, age and hometown. I'm drawn to those terse, factual paragraphs, again and again, trying to follow the raveled threads down to the rich fabric of a single human existence.

And it breaks my heart a little when I see, in the last paragraph, the sentence "no service will be held." I always wonder why the family and friends of the person who died chose to commemorate the end of their loved one's life on Earth by NOT commemorating it.

Maybe the deceased wanted it that way. Maybe the family is having a private gathering they don't want advertised. Maybe the grief is too great to contemplate sharing, or maybe the relationship was problematic and the grief isn't great enough, or is too mixed with other feelings. Maybe the friends and family aren't religious and they think funerals are only for those who believe in an afterlife. Maybe money is tight and the family doesn't see how they can afford a memorial gathering. Maybe a funeral reminds them of their own mortality, and that's too much for them to face. Maybe everyone's just too busy to plan anything. There are a million good reasons why people don't gather in community to remember, acknowledge and/or celebrate the life of someone they know who has died.

But there's one GREAT reason to go ahead and do it anyway.  It's not about "closure;" I intensely dislike that word and the way it's used in our culture to imply the ability - or necessity - to set aside difficult issues so we don't have to think about them again. When someone who has been significant in your life dies, there is no "closure" - that's a linear notion, out of place in a universe of concentric circles. Your relationship doesn't disappear just because the person is not physically present; you carry something of her/him with you in your brain/heart/cells/soul/genome/who-knows-what. There is, however, the tying together of two ends of a circle. There's a final sentence to a chapter before the new chapter begins. And there we are, back at the idea of story again - not closure, but continuity.

When we ceremonially celebrate the end of someone's life, we're also celebrating the fact that our lives go on. We're celebrating the contribution the person who died has made to OUR stories - individually and as a community. We're allowing tears and grief to mingle haphazardly with laughter and joy - a critical balance to maintain in a healthy, fully functional human life. We're acknowledging that, even though some among us may believe in an eternal life, no earthly state is static or permanent - and that it's OK to experience pain and confusion around that fact. We're taking an oath of citizenship in the universe, as part of a story so immense we can't begin to get our minds around it. And none of this is dependent upon any particular religion or belief system. It's just a condition of being "enfleshed" - plopped into an amazing and transient skin-enclosed form that is self-aware.

Death can make life seem bigger, more mysterious and vastly more precious, but only if we consciously and courageously use our talent for making meaning from seemingly random events. At a funeral or celebration of life - really, in any rite of passage - we create symbols and rituals that speak to something in us deeper than our thoughts and quieter than our restless intellect. We weave a story in which all of us are characters on a quest - first, to endure the unendurable, finally to unmask the good and the beautiful. And we walk home arm in arm from the grave, or the park, or the wake, with an opportunity to be better people, more integral people, than we were hours before.

Hold a service - of one, two or two hundred. Go on to the next chapter.