Sunday, May 27, 2007


Maybe I should go to church...

I sat down to try to figure out what to make of my visit from the Goat, only to find that those were the first words I typed... and then I realized that I could in fact still make it if I got my act in gear, so I pulled on some slightly more presentable clothes, jumped into the car, and made it just at the beginning of the service.

And it was Pentecost.

This day has meant more to me than I can say: Mother of all Reversals in the line of reversals that begins with the new Eve giving birth to the new Adam, here the building of the tower of Babel and God's scattering mankind in the confusion of language, is reversed in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. All the mingled pilgrims of Jerusalem hear sense in their own language but a riot of noise in all the others -- leading to the famous sneering line: "They are only full of new wine." But here the end of the division of mankind is proclaimed with the inbreaking of the Last Days.

Now, those poor Last Days have been computed over and over again, and without wanting to patronize people of faith and good will, it seems to have occurred to few [like G.K. Chesterton] that they did indeed begin then: "and the end of the world was long ago."

But here was a difference. As soon as I began to listen to the sermon, I knew I was in the wrong place; I had been wrong to come. And my desire to pray, and my desire to get the hell out of there, were all intimately bound up [to coin a phrase] with the mind-blowing visit from the Goat. I had asked him to push me.

And he had pushed me. It was terrifying, it was exhilarating (once I could breathe again) and, well, mind-blowing. I crossed a bridge. And I fear that this is a long, slippery slope. Something else came to me today: I would give anything to be [physically] like the Goat. I would give anything, that is, but the years, the number of hours a week, of work it takes to be [physically] like the Goat.

So I am never going to be someone who drives anyone wild with sudden overpowering desire. I have to take this moment and what it gives me and find out who I am and who I can be. And it's terrifying. I suddenly knew, sitting in the pew of that little church, why the damned man in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Last Judgment is staring in such horror: he has just seen himself for what he is, not what he thought he was, or dreamed he could be. It is horrifying. Particularly when you realize that there is no going back. And there is no going back, neither for that lost soul, nor for me...

That, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road.

The enormity of what I had done, what I had asked for and received, what I was still asking for -- the memory of that first, all-important step over the line -- kept rising up before me while the words of the service floated by unheard, or at least unreceived. However much meaning the gospel may have for me, I can no longer find it in the company of simple, good people doing their best to live within tidy rules and fencing themselves off from those who don't -- especially with the words "inclusive" and "diversity" on every tongue -- words I wish I could go to my grave without ever hearing again, along with "empowering" and "loving," and a raft of other dog-eared flavors of the month.

I had no desire to sit in judgment on anyone there -- they were after all good people doing their best -- I just knew that I no longer belonged there, no matter how much they would try to impress upon me that I did.

I had to get out
, and I got out.

Beloved Goat:

What's becoming clearer is that I don't know what much of anything means anymore. I mean: I knew that, but now I KNOW it.

You had to leave, you left. I sat alone,
My heavy heart with you, the road, the rain.
I wondered why I'd wished you safely gone,
What I am now, who called myself a man.

I can't be what I was, there's no return,
And what I am has yet, for me, no name:
You open doors within me and I burn.
I fight down fear to play the fearful game.

You ride in rain. My road ahead is dark --
My guide is gone, to seek his home and his
Own road ahead. My soul is dry -- one spark
Will set ablaze my flesh to show what is.

What will be makes me burn and, though I bleed,
Comes rushing at us both at breakneck speed.

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