This was the first "column" that I wrote, years ago, for a "newspaper" that was "printed" on "paper". Amazing to think that now.
Written when I really really thought I knew something about these matters, the content and message are sincere, but the tone is off the mark. (Though in my defense, I had just come off of reading a pretty intense Tom Robbins novel about an invalid, an Amazonian shaman, a parrot, and a nun.) Much has changed since this writing: much has been recovered and much has been lost, and found, and otherwise transformed in my life since then; nonetheless, I'm posting this as it was written and printed nearly two decades(!) ago, if for no other reason than it's a kind of MRI slice of my life at that time.
St. Judas Iscariot
It has become my fervent belief in the past few years that Judas Iscariot has been wrongly denied canonization by the Catholic Church. I implore your patience for a moment as I explain. Yes, that same Judas who, according to sanctioned accounts, betrayed Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene, turning him over to the Romans for a few shiny pieces of metal under the watchful eye of the Pharisees. Yes, that same traitor--vilified through time, immortalized in fresco as the Apostle with Bad Table Manners for having toppled the salt shaker at the Last Supper—who was so shame-ridden by his sin that he committed suicide. But let’s look closer, shall we? Here was a man who did the Hard Thing. By ratting out Jesus, he in fact made the redemption of all humanity possible. If it weren’t for his setting in motion the wheels of God’s will, where would Western Culture be today? The good and the bad of it? Why must he be so demonized, rather than venerated? I bring this up because I see a bit of myself in J.I. And I’d venture to guess that many of you, dear readers, could as well.
I grew up in what I would call a “Resentfully New-Catholic” family. (That is to say, my parents were fairly observant, though entirely displeased with the vernacularization of the Church and its rituals after Vatican II.) I was, if not fully steeped in the Roman Catholic mythos, at least swirled around in that dogmatic demitasse long enough for it to rub off on me. (You can take the boy out of the pew…) Even now, as I consider myself an inconsistent mystic, I am drawn to the beautiful and powerful vocabulary of Catholic imagery. In it, I find the imagery of the spirit unbound from the political trappings of hierarchical religion. I have expanded beyond that as well, but it remains an important part of my particular path. I am also well aware that that imagery does not resonate with others as it does with me—nor does it have to, of course.
However, I have found a connecting thread among those seeking to live more consciously: it is that very willingness to do the Hard Thing. I have seen an almost universal acceptance of the blessed inevitability of making the difficult choice. The choice of Love that we are compelled to make even as it causes us, and perhaps those we love, pain. It is not news, I know, to say that the path of Light requires that we simultaneously dive into our own Darkness. We are yin and yang forever chasing each other. Our wounds are the paths to our healing. A teacher of mine likened it so: Some people spend the better part of their lives circling the fire, growing ever-so-slightly closer to it with each revolution, till at long last they are engulfed; some never get close enough to the fire to get singed; and still others hurtle themselves headlong into the fire like some rogue kamikaze moth. Neither route is better than the other is. Both will burn and purify, destroy and create you anew. I happen to be the lucky bearer of a Red-Ember-Express ticket. Although, to be true, it has been a fairly gradual realization beginning when I was a child, with the amorphous feeling that I just didn’t—well--belong with the family into which I was born. Mind you, nothing overtly tangible in my present-life experience induced that feeling. But, I have come to see that in order for me to have grown as I have--to make the choice to live more consciously, to seek out what the true meaning of family is--I have had to remove myself from the political system of my family of origin.
Now, I am not enlightened, by any means. I advocate no one particular modality towards awakening one’s kundalini. I am simply another seeker after Truth—a drop in the Paradigm-Shift Ocean, if you will—and I am learning to “connect the dots” of my life in whatever limited way I can. The reason I share this information at all is that in my experience, I have found it edifying to hear of others’ calls to Light, and the choices that they make thereby. I find strength and wonder in witnessing the myriad paths that are leading to the Great Unity. In fact, I would like to invite a dialogue to begin from this writing in which people can share their remembrances, as well as their forgetting, of the path, for themselves and others.
Sometimes the Hard Thing is simply standing in the fire, palms open at your sides, feeling a part of your old self die, not knowing where to turn--and not turning. Where is the strength? Who are the strong? The eleven who went into hiding for the weekend? Or the one who picked up God’s own gauntlet?
Saint Judas Iscariot, pray for us.