Monday, February 23, 2009

Walking with the Holy

Prayers offered in times of peace
Are silent conversations
Appeals for love, or love’s release
In private invocations
But all that is changed now
Gone, like the memory from the day before the fires
People hungry for the voice of God
Hear lunatics and liars

--Paul Simon

That’s an excerpt from Wartime Prayers, released in 2006. I love that song; I found it bland at first, but the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. I know I quote Paul Simon far too often, but I think the above (and the following) are pretty timely, given the state of affairs both globally and in my own personal life. There’s a lot I could write on this subject, and even as I sit down typing this now (at my laptop which periodically decides to slow down, freeze up, or completely die) I’m having a heckuva time organizing my thoughts.

First, I think it’s pretty accurate. What do we pray/hope/dream for when things are going well? Stuff, mostly, right? Or, as the lyrics say, “love or love’s release.” Petty things, at any rate, selfish things. We’re very self-absorbed, so that even when our lives are good, we can always think of more things to ask for, and we can always complain when we don’t get them. It takes something like a tragedy, a disaster, or (surprise!) a war to get our thoughts shifted from personal greed to external consciousness. Sad. That says a lot about our culture and the mindset we’re raised in—“Only I matter, and I’m entitled to whatever the hell I want.”

Because you cannot walk with the holy
If you’re just a halfway-decent man
I don’t pretend that I’m a mastermind
With a genius marketing plan
I’m trying to tap into some wisdom
Even a little drop will do
I want to rid my heart of envy
And cleanse my soul of rage
Before I’m through

These are my favorite lines in the piece. It pretty much sums up exactly where I feel I’m at in my life right now. I finally feel ready to embrace and pursue some sort of truly ethical, meaningful existence. Does that mean I’m growing up and becoming an adult? Maybe. I don’t know. I’m just trying to grow, mature, learn, and most importantly do the right thing. It’s a hard and slow process. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time—but I am indeed “trying to tap into some wisdom…rid my heart of envy and cleanse my soul of rage.”

I’ll openly admit that I’m no saint. Far from it. I’m ashamed of some of my actions in the past, and I continue to make mistakes on almost a daily basis. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but even at that I had a recent experience in which an unintentional, naïve, and idiotic blunder of mine caused someone else pain. Dammit. But I hope to learn from my errors so I can correct them in the future. While I’ll likely never “walk with the holy,” I strive to be more than halfway-decent.

Times are hard; it’s a hard time
But everybody knows all about hard times
The thing is, what are you gonna do?
Well, you cry and try to muscle through
And try to rearrange your stuff
But when the wounds are deep enough
And it’s all that we can bear
We wrap ourselves in prayer

Tru dat. It’s a hard time for everyone right now—who isn’t in some way effected by global affairs? Conflict? The economy? Or personal issues—such as the ongoing and serious health problems of my beloved horses?

For me, I’m able deal with it. I’m a pretty strong person, for the most part. I have a coping mechanism that says, “Hey, this is the way it is, and I can’t change it, so let’s just do what needs to be done and take things as they come.” It works for me. I’m able to maintain a pretty positive outlook and even at the worst of times I never sink into despair. Instead of, “Why me?” I ask, “Why not me?”

And life goes on.

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