Suddenly you find- at age fifty, say
that a whole new life has opened before
you… as if a fresh sap of ideas
and thoughts was rising in you.
Spent the day at the Center on Halsted and am late beginning today’s (at least an hour) entry. At the moment, to keep building my real life contacts is somewhat more important than sitting in front of the computer pretending I have something worth saying, pretending I’m a writer, or so it seems to me, presently.
The question of religion has come up with a few of my friends on Facebook. I need to clarify my position on the subject. Perhaps the first thing I should say is that I wish I could believe in a higher order. I was raised Catholic, and have a great affection for the Catholic liturgy, especially in the days when the priest faced away from the congregation, part of it, yet, somehow, as the idea of priest has always been, even in the so-called pagan religions, a person entrusted to represent the congregation when offering sacrifice. In the days before Vatican II, that’s what the Mass was, a mystical, bloodless sacrifice, based on the events surrounding Calvary and The Resurrection. After Vatican II, it became a shared meal, with the priest facing the congregation like a host at a dinner party.
One special note about the liturgy. I especially loved the old Requiem Mass. All those candles, all that sprinkling of holy water, all that wafting of incense- you just knew, as that casket was being wheeled out of the Church it was going straight to Heaven!
But I outgrew the emotional symbolism in both its forms. In fact, I outgrew the idea of God, at least in the way we creatures describe it. Because this is stream of consciousness writing, everything I say is going to be confused, off the cuff, disjointed. Stream of consciousness writing is like rattling around a pantry looking for what’s there, and how you can use it in the recipe.
Emotionally, I want to believe in a God, and to a certain extent, intellectually as well. All things have a beginning, all things are the result of something that happened before, until you arrive at a First Cause, a Cause that has no cause, but is. It’s more romantic to think of that First Cause as a caring, planning person, than as a result of mathematics. There is room to believe, if a God is a person, that it can be appealed to, that what you see as errors, like a crippling disease, can be changed by appealing to the Person, engaging its compassion. You don’t get that warm, fuzzy feeling of hope if that First Cause is just a mathematic equation. My nature, as an emotional human being, demands the certainty of the beginning as a loving plan. My nature as a thinking human being demanding evidence over Faith, does not allow me the luxury of warm, fuzziness.
Egostistically, I want to believe in a Person as God, because it means I wasn’t an accident, but a deliberate plan that is destined to live forever with/in it, forever. There is also a part of me that sudders at the idea of forever. Once, during fourth grade catechism, the nun said something to the effect that if we died in grace, we would get to spend eternity with God, singing his praises. She did not like my asking, “but what if I don’t wan’t to do that, forever? Even at nine, the little questioning heretic was pushing forward.
Today’s discussion, at the Center, was about the process of aging in America. We talked about the aged being scammed, being abused, being ignored, being treated like children. We talked about how easy it is, for an aged person, to become isolated, through neglect, fear, ignorance of/by a society that is geared for the young, the quick. I brought up the special factor gay people faced as seniors, i.e., that of being gay- I did not get to mention one of the by-products of that factor was that many gay people went back into the closet, finding it easier to deal with a larger world that may not understand, and/or, even hate gay people. Gay elders have less of a mutual support system than the young.
I don’t know that our discussions at the Center solve anything. But maybe the value of the discussions is not in soloutions, but in the understanding that you are not alone. Most times, that feels like enough.