The Mountain

When learning to drive a car, one of those lessons that is very necessary, but takes a very long time to learn – or, at least, it took me a long time – is that of where to look. The eyes dart between too close and too far; too much time spent staring straight ahead and not enuf time looking from side-to-side. And the mirrors? Forgetaboutit! Eventually, thru time and experience, the lucky drivers figure all this out – the drivers that care about being good drivers (very few), not the drivers who never give all this a second thot (most).

And so it is w Life. It takes the lucky ones years to learn where to look, and most of those that merely slog their way thru Life (living one day at a time, completely independent of every day before and after) never do learn where to look. (The truly blessed, or gifted ones seem to be born w this ability.) And so it is w me: I will be (shudder) 59 years old this summer; and it is in this Spring of 2013 that I have finally learned where to look.

Now, while the eyes are looking at the mountain, it is the feet that take the steps and make the journey. The navigator, w the compass and the sextant steers the ship; but the rowers give the skin of their hands to the voyage. One w/o the other means a ship that never reaches its destination.

However, just because the navigator can see the port doesn’t mean the vessel will make the port.

This is where I am at this moment. I am – finally, praise God, not to put too fine a point on it – looking where I need to look. My desitination, my goal, my reason for being, my purpose, is in sight. I know – not merely believe, not guess, not suppose – where I need to go. For the first time in my life, I know my destination. That’s the good news; the bad news is that I must shed a lifetime’s worth of excess baggage – impedimenta.

Given that my father lived till he was 89, I think it reasonable to expect something like 30 more years before I make port (my father’s longevity is as good a crystal ball as any I have at hand).

Either I believe in God, or I don’t. Notice, first, that I said “I” not “we”. While I firmly believe what is true for me is true for all of God’s children, I live in a society that has embraced the concept that I must not interfere while others drown. In fact, the Great Irony is that I will be standing at the Pearly Gates entirely by myself, in front of Christ, and the first question out of His mouth will be “What have you done for me?” – which is simply the cut-to-the-chase version of “Why should I let you in?” I will be standing there, by myself, but if I get there by myself, I don’t deserve to be there. How I keep anyone else from drowning, while it is all I can do to keep from drowning myself is quite beyond me. Perhaps the answer is that to save myself, I must do all that I can to save others first? The corollary is simply that I can’t be saved at all if I don’t participate in the salvation of others. To be Biblical: I must die to live. A very difficult concept for an organism that is hardwired to survive at all costs. That would seem to go against Natural Law, but this is neither the time nor the place for that discussion (even if I was capable of the discussion).

I simply, and literally, don’t know how to help others. Nothing I have done so far has worked; that much is clear – even to me. I wonder if being a “lay contemplative” is my calling? I have no desire to take Holy Orders, even if I wasn’t already very married (as opposed to the first two relationships, in which I was, evidentally, “somewhat,” or “kinda” married). Frankly, the number of orders, or groups of religious is appalling: isn’t there only one True Church?

Anyway, I was specifically invited to join a “Friday night Liturgy of the Hours”; tonight, I had no good reason not to attend. I chose not to. I have agonized over it for about a week and a half. While the invitation was flattering – somebody wants me??? – it is not me, it is not how I am wired. I am not a joiner. I have tried. Oh! how I have tried. I have crashed and burned at every turn. I just am not a people person – however much I wish I was.

In one of those few times in my life when the planets were perfectly aligned, I walked the 45 minutes to St Peter’s, knelt on the basalt stones (“sanpietrini”) in the Square (the building had long since been closed for the day), and prayed a Rosary. Kinda all by myself: there was an Italian boy and girl much too close by; on second thot, they might not have noticed me. I felt compelled to pray. I was w/n walking distance of my own “holy of holies” (albeit it was more of a forced march to get there). And, I exploited that impulse. My only regret is that I didn’t do that more often. BTW, it took nearly two hours to walk back home; ‘course it was uphill all the way.

In fact, I have only ever once sought the company of strangers in my desperation to deal w Life; that was the first year, or so, of living in Tokyo. It would be easy to say that 1990 was completely out of character for me; but it would be more accurate to say that I had no idea at all where to look at that point in my life. If nothing else, here it is, 2013 – something like 23 years later – and I am just now convinced I know where to look. I had plenty of steam back then, just no rudder – my Great Undoing. Tho I hafta say – I just gotta say – at least I had steam, unlike most people I know now.

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