Still Metabolizing a Profound Experience

I haven’t posted in a long time.  I’ve been continuing to process “Nights of Grief and Mystery,” and finding it very difficult to describe.  Both the event itself, and how it changed me.  I realize it’s going to take some time, because how I’ve been changed only shows up when I find myself reacting to an old situation in a new way.  I’ve just been typing up from the days just after going to Portland, and found lots of meaningful bits.

From my journal for Saturday, October 12

I realize that the most important thing Stephen & Gregory do is make you think differently about things.  I listened to the CD of the show in Australia in the car coming back.  Mostly SJ telling stories, only two songs, and the musical background was minimal, so I could hear the whole story.  I heard the full story of the palliative care nurse, I had understood it at the performance, despite the difficulty understanding certain words.  On the CD he says he’s there “to practice cognitive dissonance on the general public.”

What he’s done for me is give me a chance to climb that hill, look at the “back forty of your life,” and see it “visible and lucid.”  I feel so fortunate.

The piece about the “back forty” quoted in Regrets

3rd cup of tea.  I slept til 7:40 this morning.  A good long sleep.  I needed it.  My Portland adventure is still developing like a photograph.

The piece I left out was about being an orphan.  It was on the CD.  SJ telling a story of some man whose father was dying, talking to a friend who’d lost his father too.  The friend was an orphan, and said to the one with the dying father “Soon you’ll be an orphan too.”  I realized that I’ve been an orphan from birth, and didn’t know it.

Sunday, October 12

Yesterday I was thinking that I’ve been through too much pain in my life to experience “happiness.”  All my experiences contribute to a felt sense of pain, it’s like pain is my foundation for experiencing life.  I have lots of stories of realizations.  I wouldn’t call them “happy” stories.  I think of the possible responses to the Holocaust.  “After something as horrible as that, how can anyone be happy?” and “After something as horrible as that, how can anyone refuse to be happy?”

I envy Etty Hillesum who was able to experience joy in the midst of the Holocaust.  I wonder if some of my inability to experience joy, to enjoy, is from 55 years of severe clinical depression?  The possibility is there, but it’s unpracticed, the muscle has grown weak from lack of use.

Monday, October 14

I have been feeling very strange.  I’ve been reading more material by the Lost Nation folks, and watching videos of their work.  Finding it very hard to come up with words — words aren’t appropriate somehow.  I just had a flash of how we all created it together, audience and folks on stage, whatever that was that happened Thursday night.  I know that I have emerged from that adventure stronger.

SJ says he’s come to practice “cognitive dissonance” on the rest of us.  Yes, I think that is exactly right.  I have a sense of a definite intellectual construct being broken up into pieces.  Perhaps the construct by which I believe in the long ongoing political, social, economic, environmental planetary disaster.  Perhaps the construct by which the disaster was created.

I went to Hanover Meeting yesterday.  Someone talked about holding his infant daughter, her head in his hand, her feet in his elbow, and he thought that she fit right into her place in the universe — that’s the gist of it, I haven’t got the words right.  I didn’t think I’d forget them.  But it was the most important message for me.  There is a place in the universe for you, and you fill it perfectly.  Can I own that for myself?

A Muslim was going to give a talk about his Spiritual Journey after meeting.  I wish I had known.  I hadn’t planned for it, and I knew I had to keep isolating — sitting in the ashes — metabolizing the experience — allowing the film to develop.  I maybe should be working this out in gouache, not words.

“… if how we are with each other is how the Lords of Chance will be with us.  … bring on the Saints and the Ending of Days, or bring down the darkness.”

SJ says, when you meet the ending of days “You don’t have to hold anything back.”

Quotes from Stephen Jenkinson, from Lost Nation Road

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