Grief jumped out and grabbed me this morning. I’ve come to the conclusion Grief must be a troll-like creature – he (obviously a he, no woman ever caused me this much problem!) has become more wily – stealthily evading all the wonderful detours , labyrinths and traps I’ve erected around myself in order to gain some peace and lead him somewhere far from me.
He’s learned how to sneak around, jump up and bite me in the butt when I least expect it…
I’ve immersed myself in the Teaching Series, available at my local library. These wonderful CD volumes with accompanying study guides contain a series of lectures from a host of college professors on a a variety of topics.
Yesterday, I started Professor Tefluio F. Ruiz’s course, “The Terror of History – Mystics, Heretics and Witches in Western Tradition”. A broad overview of the culture, political, economical and religious mores of the time period from approximately 1000 – 17000 A.D., this course examines the foundations upon which Mystics were created, Heretics identified and what powerful social climates lead to the Burning Times for those labeled “Witch”.
So perhaps I should not be surprised that Grief showed up today. After all, you cannot immerse yourself in the subject matter of the nature of God, nature of Man, how we explain our birth, life and death, without at some point, thinking about the ones you’ve lost…
Interestingly, Professor Ruiz starts the course with his idea of how religion and culture come about.
“The Satyr, who frequently dined with the gods, was asked by King Minos what was the best gift to request from the gods. After he spouts a variety of possibilities, including wealth, power and wisdom, the Satyr turned on Minos and blasted,
“You Fool! The kindest gift man could ever receive from the gods is to never be born.”
This story eloquently illustrates what I call the “Terror of History”. Once we became self-aware, conscious, if you will, we came to be at the mercy of the Terror of History – aware of our own mortality and fragility, aware of the apparent chaos of the world around us and the fact so many of the natural forces to which we could fall victim at any time were completely out of our control.
In order to distract ourselves from this Terror, we looked to magic and ritual – changing it as we went, in a futile attempt to control the world around us – and ensure our survival. These rituals developed into religious beliefs and dogma.
Some looked to materialism, hedonism, if you will, in order to escape the Terror. A focus on the moment and all the pleasures of life, immersing themselves in what could be experienced richly through the senses.
Still others looked to ways to bring order and beauty to the chaos. Through intellectual pursuit, laws, art – they forged cultures that strove to bring order and control to daily life. Through the pursuit of obtaining order, they gave meaning to their lives.
These three responses to Terror are the cornerstones of the rise of western civilization.”
Makes sense to me. I know about the Terror. I also know about all the various ways you can attempt to escape it. Lately, I tend to spend most of my focus of escape in the number 2 and 3 categories – cigs, intellectual pursuits and hobbies bring me a calm that meditating or praying fail to provide – –
In other words, I’ve lost my Faith….She’s probably wondering around in one of the mazes I set up to entrap that nasty ole troll, Grief….
It soothes me to immerse myself in the stories of the past. Learning about the times when women couldn’t vote, inherit or own property – when 5 out of 10 of your neighbors were dying from plague – when life was a precarious existence, a daily toil in the fields with the possibility of either wacky weather killing your crops or the local Lord and his knights deciding to duke it out with another in your field of barley – -when despite your most ardent prayers and work, any number of natural or man-made disasters could befall you at any moment, without warning.
When I immerse myself in times of the past, I realize how wonderful my current reality is. I realize how much worse it could be. And I feel gratified that I have only had to bury one child, and not seven or eight or more, as many of my ancestors did.
Faith may be lost in the maze of my own making, but she still manages to shout directions to me over the top of the hedge….