Tuesday, March 12, 2013

And The Cardinals Usher In Spring

You can tell that it's spring. The cardinals have returned.

This is a picture of a bunch of men in really cool hats trying to figure out how to fuel the stove in the Sistine Chapel so they don't get a backdraft and inhale excessive amounts of black airborne carcinogens. I am fond of the pez like nature of their heads. Still, I prefer the Peeps version of this scene myself, because in the overall scheme of things, in the great explosion of the universe as it expands exponentially faster and faster into the Vast Unknown, it's more accurate to the relative importance of the event it represents.

And I have a soft spot for Peeps.I mean, who doesn't? LOOK at them.

You see, I so very much wanted to be a dedicated blogger. I intended to write every day - or at least every week - or at least bimonthly - or - well, screw it. It was January. And now it's March. The fact that the pope decided to bag it actually makes me feel much better about this personal decision. I'm writing now, so that will have to do for the moment. There are bigger fish to fry.

Don't get me wrong. I don't feel that we should all collectively duck out of our responsibilities, or our obligations, or our dreams. I am not a quitter. No, that's not true. Sometimes I am a quitter. But I will never quit KNOWING that I am sometimes a quitter, and so in that respect, I continue to flaunt my shiny, tinny self-righteousness. Such as it is.

I don't think people should just quit things. But I do appreciate the occasional bravery that comes with realizing that the horse, after all, is dead. Bury the poor thing and start walking.

Benedict XIV was not the greatest pope. He was an excellent academic, a voracious learner, a prolific writer, and, just looking at him from the outside, probably not a bad guy. He had nice hands. But he was certainly not the greatest pope. Now that he is dedicating his life to being in seclusion and in prayer, it's entirely possible he might not be the greatest at that, either. He can certainly put a whole lot of items in the "been there, done that" column of his life, and..?

Well, therein lies the question. And....? And what exactly? And he was a failure? And he was a success? And he was some old dude who decided it was just not his gift after all, so he returned it?

And. I think this is one of the most important words in the English language. But not for the reasons automatically assumed.

I think most of us (and I include me in this) crave the "ands" of our lives. I am a teacher and a musician and a wife and a writer and a daughter and a stepmom and a well-liked employee and a Catholic and an honorary Presbyterian and a dog owner and a taxpayer and a Subaru driver. And I have all my own teeth. I am all that and a bag of chips. Bet you feel pretty special right now, being so privileged to know wonderful, wonderful me. I like all those "ands". They make me feel adult and respectable. But this version of "and" - the one that is all about the more-ness of things - this is not the version that has done me the most good up to now.

The version of "and" that has done me the most good up to now is this one: I am a pacifist Christian and I fantasize about blowing up terrorists by the hundreds. Sometimes I blow up entire countries in my mind, depending on the latest newscast. I am a teacher and I am woefully ignorant. I am a clown and a jackass and I can be as black inside as that gunked up stove in the Sistine Chapel. I pray like a saint and swear (ok, alone in my car at stupid stupid stupid stupid f-ing drivers) like a sailor. I diet regularly on fresh veggies and bowls of ice cream, which I anoint with little beanie hats of peanut butter, and I eat them just before bed. I pride myself on my patience and I imagine myself, as I am stuck behind slowbies in the grocery aisle, smacking them silly with their own extra large blocks of Velveeta. And then eating their extra large blocks of Velveeta, right in front of them. I laugh at jokes about women with baggy upper arms and giant asses and then make sure I myself am never seen in cap sleeves and am always photographed facing the camera. I love my parents and sometimes I want to drop them off a bridge. I am a decent human being, and I am also a complete disaster of a wreck.

Benedict was pope, and then he wasn't. For all we know, probably at the exact same time.

Wouldn't it be so much more real, not to mention so much easier on the soul, to just live with the ands and lose the red beanies and smoky stoves? Let go of the certainty that we will get this right, and trust that someone else, someone, oh, I don't know, maybe someone with credentials like God, perhaps, let's start there - that Someone else can be certain for us, and we can just be?

Someday, when the end of the world is just a memory of a long ago "boom" and we are all wherever the heck we will wind up, there will be no more "ands." We will have finally reached the end of all things, and the beginning. Crap, that's an "and." Well, there you are. No avoiding it, perhaps we should all get used to it now, while we still are on the practice fields.

In the meantime, I will quit writing. And I will begin again. See you in June.

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