God’s Anxiety

God’s Anxiety

‘Is it time to panic?’
and
‘is my panic
and the invitation for others
to share in my panic with me
what this world really needs?’
are two good questions
God asked long ago
that we are still learning
in times of necessary tension and strife.

Conflict, God knew
was critical to this wild experiment working.
So She thought a lot about inserting
the alarms which ring in our ears
every time conflict is encountered.
After all, She reasoned
conflict is really only a lever,
a fulcrum and the helpful signposts
evolution employs
to prompt us toward some higher order
of complexity, cooperation and interdependence.

And sometimes anxiety IS part
of a viable strategy of conflict
especially when complacency and apathy
and personal comfort
have taken root
and reign as priorities
over things like
truth, trust and understanding,
cooperation, justice and the chance to extend love.
At these times, anxiety
is a useful tool.

But like so many of the prehistoric tools
acquired from the limbic tool shed
it was built for different times than ours
and requires some thoughtful and innovative application
or, at least, a thorough review of the disclaimer
required at the end of the commercials:
‘this product may cause confusion, irritation, inflammation, upset stomach, fear, wariness, constipation, distrust, disgust, disengagement, despair, loneliness, rigidity, isolation, tiredness, trouble sleeping, desperation, symptoms of addiction and susceptibility to watching Fox News.

I believe that sometime after God invented anxiety
She came across early tests that prompted the impulse
to stop its production altogether
shut down manufacturing and distribution
face the embarrassment of a recall
and send it back to R&D.
I believe God would have pulled it from the shelves altogether
Except for all its essential
and critical applications:
that it could protect and save
the creatures She realized
She loved most.
And that’s when it became clear:
That if She could learn to live with Her anxiety,
we could learn to live with ours.

Inspiration of the Day – Friday May 17

For My Mother on What Would Have Been Her 85th Birthday

Time passes
And silence wedges itself
into the broadening space between us
push to the margins
those routine moments
we made our connections.
That four o’clock time,
for example,
that I tried to reach you
every afternoon
in the last four months before you died.
That was the time I could usually count on
when the nurse would usually answer your phone
while she brought you lunch.
Toward the end
when she even had to hold the phone for you
it got so complicated for us
to make our connections.
Not unlike getting those calls
that prompted the frantic negotiations
with the airline’s reservation desk
catching the ride to the airport
passing through security
walking through the x-ray
without setting off the alarms
finding the gate
and squeezing into the seat
too small for anyone who has grown
into complex adult relationships
claiming our baggage
hoping to be met at the curb
and accompanied home
- that place so familiar and open
we sometimes didn’t need to speak
in order to finally grasp that yearned-for feeling
of having arrived.

For so many years we made these connections
look so routine
we didn’t need to think much about it
until
of course
we thought about it more
and recognized the thoughts given
were less than what was needed
to feed the flickering spark
between two souls standing on the threshold
of an important journey.
And then we would think about it some more.
And it was funny how
just getting the clarity
or the connection
without the old familiar drama
didn’t feel quite as substantial
as we often decided
it needed to be.

Those old familiar years we took for granted
When we compared them to the last few
in which so many delays
and missed connections
pointed out how little time we had
to get our baggage down
to a carry on level
before last call.

How many things we had to sort through
and decide to let go
just to close that suitcase
just to close that distance between us
just to write on the little card
tied to the handle
“It’s four o’clock…
…I love you.”

My Mother
By David Young

I see her doing something simple, paying bills,
or leafing through a magazine or book,
and wish that I could say, and she could hear,

that now I start to understand her love
for all of us, the fullness of it.

It burns there in the past, beyond my reach,
a modest lamp.

Inspiration of the Day – Thursday, May 16

Repent or Perish

I saw the sign.
‘Repent or Perish’ it said.
And its red letters
seemed to jump out of the cardboard
like the man who carried it
was jumping out of his shoes.
Urgency fueled by desperation
channeled by fear.

It was that bugle-blasting battle cry
that told me
that the courthouse steps
were more than a threshold of reason
and justice in action
attempting to protect the vulnerable.
This was a militarized zone.
And as I looked down at my sign
pleading for fairness
and recognizing the rights of those
who’d fallen through the cracks
or were dangling off the margins,
it occurred to me
that this man felt as threatened by me
as I did by him.
Though we only exchanged glances
and did not speak a word
we both could see
the line drawn in the sand
between us.

We were both hoping for something.
Integrity, I suppose,
to be true to ones’ convictions.
Power, perhaps,
to influence others
and have an impact on their actions.
That’s what demonstrations are for, right?
And so, it didn’t seem strange to me then
that I made a conscious effort
for the rest of the day
to position myself
so that I couldn’t see him
or the countless others in his battalion.
I fought hard to focus on
the single-minded purpose
which brought me there that day.

I don’t know how many rallies like this
that I have attended now
but that first one
seemed to set a precedent
I routinely followed
in all future actions
for quite a long time.

And not just public demonstrations.

I have logged considerable time
climbing to my sequestered perch
atop courthouse steps
talking past people
talking over people
rather than talking with them.

So much so
I think it has written part of the script
for the demonstration
in my mind where
there is often only one podium
that is being mic’d and recorded
and only one direction I usually face
which too rarely allows me to see
those other signs
carried by that frightened part of myself
jumping out of my shoes
crying ‘repent or perish’.

Which makes me wonder…
I have a collection of placards
carried by my conscious self.
I know those slogans by heart.
But what’s written
on the sandwich board
that my unconscious has been carrying around?
Who really has drawn the lines in the sand?
Would the conversation with myself
be as fruitless as I imagine it to be
with those on the other side
of the courthouse steps?

Repent or perish
can also be a call to
come together.

Inspiration of the Day – Wednesday, May 15

Begin with something
for that is clearly better than nothing.
Something is a good start.

Because everyone knows
believing in that first something
is hard when
your heart has been broken
and more than once.
Everyone knows
that after disappointment appears the first time
our hearts are rotely rebuked
by the loops of declarations
announcing how trust went missing
once
showing up on milk cartons everywhere
with a litany of amendments to our constitution
crying ‘never again.’
But each morning we gaze
upon the face of trust
and hope it’ll turn up.
Like the simple wish
for breath
by the fish who constantly feels out of water.
Finding lost trust is
like a tender shy pupil
trying to recall a forgotten lesson
while staring at the switch
behind the schoolmaster’s back.

Believe in something.
If it helps to counter that daunting sense of risk
let that something be small and uncomplicated.
Don’t start with the Gestapo.
Or expect world peace tomorrow.
Instead, find safe passage for just one hope.
Pin it to the chest
of a single tender thought
and whisper directions
guiding it forward on the long journey
from heart
to head.

Watch it closely
as it passes the warning signs
of old memories.
You’ll see it shrink back
and rise again.
But the real revelation comes
from finally noticing
that the fingerprints
all over the milk carton
are those of the shy pupil
and the stern schoolmaster.
They are one and the same
and both belong to you.

When learning to believe in something
it is always good to begin with yourself
before the harder task
of believing in anyone else.
You can’t invest yourself in another
without backing that loan
with security deposited in the vaults
of your own soul.
That’s like handing pitchers to thirsty people
scooped from empty wells. And to them
it is like being asked to trust the shirt
handed out by someone
wearing no clothes.

It isn’t armor we need for this journey of trust.
Entry into any beloved community
comes when your heart can be placed on the scales
and found lighter than the single feather
that travelled all the way
to your partner across a vast distance
on a single breath.

Credo
By Matthew Rohrer

I believe there is something else
entirely going on but no single
person can ever know it,
so we fall in love.

It could also be true that what we use
everyday to open cans was something
much nobler, that we’ll never recognize.

I believe the woman sleeping beside me
doesn’t care about what’s going on
outside, and her body is warm
with trust
which is a great beginning.