Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What unites these worlds is passion


A very good surprise. Cara is in for a visit. It’s been a very long time. She plays the piano for awhile, and I remember her intense improvisational journeys. She’s staying upstate for awhile. But still at home here.

Pat and Mandola Joe arrive. Joe with all the tools of the notary trade. Stamp, seal, and a forthright asking of the required questions with sworn answers. Even with a sense of humor, he takes his work seriously. Though a round at the Gate is a mutually enjoyed compensation. So our documents are official.

It’s late afternoon. A woman comes in. At first she’s just a new chiropractor in the neighborhood, making acquaintances, looking to build her business. But as the conversation goes on, I find she lived some time in Tulsa. We spend awhile  sharing memories of a city we both loved. Like a lot of chiropractors, she’s also into holistic health. And as it turns out, spirituality. As we talk more, I can sense that she’s part of that growing community of non-denominational free emergent churches, although from what I think of as the more juicy evangelical end. She’s found a church home in New York City God called her too. Turns out she is a drummer, too. We end our conversation with an amen.

Martin’s daughter Gabriella is working on a fictional writing piece on someone we both knew and loved, namely Teddy. Martin had to stop reading because it hit too close to home. He asks me to take a look, Gabriella is shy. Martin wonders if her use of the phrase Jesus fucking Christ is too over the top. I remember that Teddy swore even in Bible study. Wasn’t even aware he was doing it.

I think for a minute. Jesus Christ itself, as an expression, I've come to believe, is actually a prayer. It’s called out when we’re taken aback, shocked, frightened, amazed. It is an appeal expressed when we can’t make sense of things. I guess the addition of fucking,obscene or blasphemous as it might sound, is in fact just an amplifier. A bigger prayer, you might say. It’s okay, Martin, I say. Authentic…

She’s also worried about the juxtaposition of carnal erotic energy and spirituality. The sensual and the sacred, in her writing. Can't avoid it, I think, always there. This is my answer:

I grew up a whitebread, rational Protestant. I was OK with that until I went  to New Mexico and encountered the penitentes. I though they were weird, outré in their culture of self-flagellation and redemptive suffering. And then I read a collection of penitente poetry. And realized that it’s not for nothing we call it the passion of Christ. That’s what unites these worlds, passion. A passion that cuts to the very core of our being. I met men who could experience whips and be cut to a Mel Gibson level of stripes and within an hour of the ceremony, not show a mark. I acknowledge and accept that.

Gabriella has absorbed the flamenco culture that she has grown up in. There’s something in the Spanish culture I’ve always been drawn towards. That fascination with blood and death and survival and even triumph. I’m frankly amazed at how as a high school student, Gabriella has already incorporated so much of that ethos into her writing. I share these thoughts with Martin. He smiles. This is why he belongs here.

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