I spent the day yesterday just feeling pain. Like always I was surrounded with things that would like to be done, items to fix, clean up, renew, improve, and so forth, all of them quietly calling for my attention, to no avail. I did manage to feed myself. Mostly there was emotional pain of unspecified source, no reason that I could attribute beyond simple “balancing” after a series of successes. Perhaps there was some physical thrown in, I have drunk enough lately to begin to introduce a little dependency in my system, enough so that going without induces a little agitation and discomfort. But the emotional pain arrived first and was clearly insistent about dominating my attention. I "wasted" the entire day, doing nothing that could possibly be construed as useful or beneficial to anyone.
Such an event won't move the Richter Scale needle in my life. My very first lover disappeared out of my life after a delightful summer. It was only a year later that I learned: she had parked her mom's car in the garage and gone to sleep in the front seat while leaving the engine running. Most likely intentionally. And so long ago my second wife, the love of my life, the woman who was going to “save” me, well, she started to have an affair with my bestest best friend, actually a few weeks BEFORE we married, and, well, she asked me to teach her how to say “No” and that was a pretty tall order (even for her, over 6 feet tall ….), I mean I could say no to him but that's not the same thing, and they kept on, and kept on, and one day she took a paper clip, unwound it, and stuck it through her cervix to puncture the placenta and kill my only child … in good time, the pain that I expressed was finally sufficient to induce her to say “no” to me and leave my life …. so I have known some pain …
I was meditating upon my pastor's remarks, the previous day of rest. There was, again, that little issue that black folk can get up and speak in a crowded room and say something to one person that no one else will hear or understand, though all speak the same language. That little code which makes fools, again and again, out of our military or any source of arrogant, capricious power. He was angry with me on a couple of accounts, including my sinfulness but also including my rejection of his authority over me. While he was berating, his wife was massaging my shoulders from the pew behind me, which was kind of amusing too.
What he was saying to everyone is that there is this world and then there is the “other” world and he identifies this world, this carnal, temporal, chaotic world as being temporary and worthy of disdain while his “other” world is the world of salvation and eternal joy and peace.
Psychiatrists have long known that children who endure any kind of sexuality imposed upon them by adults, learn how to escape into an “other” world where their sense of self is fully protected and insulated from this world. Everybody has such a place in their secret souls, but its just that us'ns like me and pastor have had to spend more time in that place of refuge. It just means that while everybody can understand a little bit about a secret room, ours just happen to have furniture, particular paintings and even tapestries on the walls, mouldings, nooks and alcoves, rugs, drapes, windows, and probably a bookshelf or two with a selection of favourite works.
So it occurred to me that maybe here is where most or all Christians went wrong, starting of course with Paul. Jesus never, in fact, said that He was going to eliminate all pain for all of us or for all of us who “believed” in him. We misunderstood his healing and we totally misunderstood his resurrection. He did not promise to eliminate pain. He did not conquer death in that way, not any more than he defeated the Romans, as Judas had so fervently hoped and prayed that he would, he didn't even stop Nero from coming back a few years later and literally leveling Jerusalem, leaving no stone upon another, killing every single soul who wished to remain, and salting the earth. He really, really, did not ask us all to retreat forever into our personal private refuge.
It occurred to me that this is where “scientism” has failed and this is also where capitalism has failed. There was the promise, implicit or explicit, that either or both of those disciplines would eventually conquer all pain and make life to be eternally easy and blissful. And what those two have done is to take away all of the little irritations and aggravations of life but in their place, virtually everybody has succeeded in engendering artificial disputes so that we still have terrific arguments and discomforts with one another over issues which are total fabrications, such as the supposed differences between red and blue politicians, all of whom are on the take. And what they have decidedly NOT accomplished is to prevent total social breakdown and chaos, which is the reality that we all face today although quite a few are still hiding out in their “other” world, the fantasy one that we all have....
Me, I love life. I love this world, the real one. I happen to love booze but don't do that all the time. I love sleeping and petting my pussy and listening to her purr and keep my lap warm. I love new tools, clean, oiled, and ready to sharpen exquisitely. I love eating and I love the fact that I have enough food and drink in my house so that I can eat for the rest of my expected days, regardless of whatever happens to all you fools. I do not like pain. I mean, yes, I cut myself or get clawed or my muscles ache from exertions or arthritis or my nose runs or my head aches or whatever, all the thousand little nuisances which flesh is heir to, some of them can be rather debilitating. But none of them can completely snuff out life, or joy. Even, when mine passes away from me, I will die knowing that I have put in place things which will help to enable others survive and carry on. And therein is joy that is unquenchable. Therein is Jesus' joy, therein is his victory. NOT in the other world, but right here and right now.