Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Promise

Your touch, your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
If you'll be waiting...

Think of times in your life you've waited for Love's reply. Will the call come, will the heart respond to mine, will that face I've longed for turn the bend and come to me, turn her face and look on me.

I've longed for you and I have desired
To see your face your smile
To be with you wherever you are

Waiting.... hoping, and with it comes such a surge of emotion, tied inseparably to the deepest cords of the soul (for our bodies and souls are one). Longing not just for the physical sensation of nearness, but for the mystical, the spiritual, the infinite of which human love touches only the hem.

These days before Pentecost are the days of waiting, this is the age of the Holy Spirit... remembering those expectant hearts of those ancient men and women of Israel; Peter, John, Mary, James. Seeing them, hearing them; warm breath, beating hearts, fearful, clustered together like birds in shadows.

"Wait...." Jesus had said. This is all they knew to do. Not knowing they lie at the turning point of human history, those happy few, soon to be quickened by the Breath of Divinity and numbering in the billions! Here at the embryonic level, the Mystical Body of Christ was sewn together again by the grace of God through the Virgin of Galilee; this Body of believers was "knit together in its Mother's womb." For Mary knew about waiting, about being open to receive the Holy Spirit.

Together again
It would feel so good to be
In your arms
Where all my journeys end
If you can make a promise
If it's one that you can keep,
I vow to come for you
If you wait for me and say you'll hold
A place for me in your heart.

Let's look up as the Wind builds and the Flames gather on the eastern rim of the world. A Divine Heart is beating, ageless as the sea, coming with Water and Fire and Wind to wash, burn and break over us again. That's the Promise...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Play Me

OK, I know that when you first saw this dazzling pic of Neil in his technicolor dreamcoat, you were tempted to go and google the etymology of "cheese" or something; anything rather than consider that Neil Diamond might have something deep to say to you today.

Maybe you thought "Twisted Mystics" was about young hipsters, youth in angst, or mainstream rockers and rollers. Well it's time to broaden them horizons!

I was first introduced to Neil as a young lad, through the big, bulky "Jazz Singer" soundtrack my mother owned on an 8 track tape. Those tapes were awesome and could double as coasters, or a hammer if you were desperate and really needed to hang that painting.

Anyhoo, back to Neil. Let's take the following words and set them into the mouths of lovers... of a husband and wife. This is what we do here at Twisted Mystics; we transpose. We find the theme and set it to a theological melody. We take a rambling branch and graft it to the Divine Vine from which all branches break forth.

She was morning
And I was night time
I one day woke up
To find her lying
Beside my bed
I softly said
"Come take me"
For I've been lonely
In need of someone
As though I'd done
Someone wrong somewhere
but I don't know where
Come lately

You are the sun
I am the moon
You are the words
I am the tune
Play me

Ah the Cosmic Dance of masculine and feminine! "She was morning... and I was night time." It's common knowledge that men and women are different. Common knowledge but commonly misunderstood, or seen as some kind of obstacle ("the battle of the sexes"). Today, there also appears to be a great effort to level the playing field.... to asexualize our sexuality and invite people to "pick" which one they want, as if from scratch. But if we scratch below the surface, we discover an extremely damaging agenda here.

In the olden days (before Neil Diamond) people used to conform themselves to reality. This is a very sane thing to do. Today we are insane. We try to conform reality unto us. Rather than discover in our creation as male and female something of the mystery of God's image and likeness, we determine that we will make ourselves after our own image and likeness. The problem with this is, aside from a cosmic arrogance, we don't have a clue as to who we are.

"When we lose sight of the Creator, the creature vanishes," so spoke Vatican Council II.

Our origins, revealed in Genesis, tell us so much about what masculinity is and what femininity is, if we could but sit still and listen. The mythic elements (not myths) in Genesis speak of man being formed from the earth, with Spirit (God's ruah in Hebrew, breath) whispered into us. Is this why men seem to be more independent, detached, more comfortable being alone, distant at times? But in all our land-locked travels, we long to return to the heart.

For I've been lonely
In need of someone
As though I'd done
Someone wrong somewhere
but I don't know where

Men, despite the sometimes tough exterior, long to be in love, lost in it, we long to swim in an ocean that is deep and mysterious. That ocean is made from us, flows from us, flows to us from God.... and from Woman. Then God took a rib from Adam, and formed from his side Woman.

The “first man and the first woman must constitute ...the model... for all men and women who, in any period, are united so intimately as to be ‘one flesh’”
- Pope John Paul II, TOB, 50).

In Hebrew, the rib bespeaks the whole person. Bone is emblematic of the whole body, the whole person. Woman then is formed from the side of a rational human person. Is this why women tend, generally speaking, to be more relational, intuitive, contemplative, nurturing, gentle, emotional?

Songs she sang to me
Songs she brang to me
Words that rang in me
Rhyme that sprang from me
Warmed the night
And what was right
Became me

Men and women were never meant to clash with but to complement each other. Sin is at the root of this conflict. And so the remedy to the poison brought by the first Adam and Eve, is revealed in the gift of the new Adam and Eve. Never has there been a duet more beautifully sung than that of Jesus and Mary. In their words we learn how to untwist all of our twisted ramblings. For He is the Sun, and she is the Moon, He is the Word and she is the Tune...

And so it was
That I came to travel
Upon a road
That was thorned and narrow
Another place
Another grace
Would save me

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sending Out an SOS

Suffering can set us free. Crying out can often lead to a catharsis. Sorrow affords us a chance to struggle and squirm our way out of the black cocoon of self and into the wide expanse of the world of the Other.

The song Message in a Bottle by the Police captures this journey of self-discovery through suffering. Sting, the lead singer of the former band, is a much revered icon in the music world today. He confessed to Jools Holland of the BBC that Message in a Bottle is his favorite song.

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, oh
Another lonely day, with no one here but me, oh
More loneliness than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair, oh

In the late and great Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, the Holy Father seeks to answer two questions that I feel everyone in their heart of hearts asks at some point in this life:

What does it mean to be human?
How can I be truly happy?

In the first question, he looks into our origins, our history, and our destiny to discover just what it means to be to be human. The Pope's early life was fraught with sorrows - loss of family, Nazi occupation, friends sent to concentration camps, and a Communist takeover of his beloved Poland. But he didn't let these sorrows exile him to an island of isolation. To make sense of it all, he dove into a heartfelt reflection on our beginnings as man and woman. One of my favorite reflections in his Theology of the Body centers on the idea of Original Solitude. That is the experience of Adam, in the beginning, as a being that is in fact "alone."

I'll send an S.O.S. to the world
I'll send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle,
Message in a bottle...

Alas, Adam cries out, I see myriads of creatures, beautiful and diverse, but not another person I can love who can return my love! Sending out an SOS is Adam's first "prayer."

Pope Benedict once wrote that "man comes in the profoundest sense to himself not through what he does but through what he accepts. He must wait for the gift of love, and love can only be received as a gift… One must wait for it, let it be given to one. And one cannot become wholly man in any other way than by being loved, by letting oneself be loved...”
(Introduction to Christianity)

A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life but
Love can break your heart

Adam falls into a deep sleep, an "ecstasy" in the original language. He realizes, perhaps, the risk involved in what lies ahead but he must make himself vulnerable; he must be open and ready to receive the gift that will make him whole. And the God Who Is Love draws a lover from his side. Only "love can mend your life." Adam receives the gift of Eve, and this love wells up in him, giving birth to the first love song, the first poem in human history!

Alas, this one is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!

Walked out this morning, don't believe what I saw
Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone in being alone
Hundred billion castaways, looking for a home

The home we are all seeking is this communion of persons, formed by God right from the beginning! It is Love that is the meaning of life, love that can move not only mountains, but islands! As we look out on our wounded world today, at the faces in the crowd, the faces in the subways and trains and malls and marketplaces, tiny islands of solitude and loneliness, let us call out to them in love. Sending out an SOS, a prayer for everyone. Let's pray that all of us castaways might find a home in God, the source and summit of meaning and purpose and direction in life, and in relationships with others, for we are each another incarnation of His Love in the world!

For a video of the first live performance
of Message in a Bottle, click here!)