Right now and in the last year, I have two kinds of thinking (over! simp! li! fication!) and one is sort of dreamy and make believe, wondering and awed. The other is very, very concrete and immediate, and unimaginitive. I seem not to be able to integrate the two very well. Today I went to a sweat lodge in North Berkeley with Dad and Liz and Betsy, and two of the rounds (I think a round is when the lodge is sealed and hot water poured on fresh heated rocks) were for offering prayers. Everyone prayed, often at length, and we went in a circle. It was like the thoughts I have after the communion at mass, where I kneel and think about who I want God to help. Except we were sharing. And it was very dark, and hot. It is supposed to be a womb. And for the longest time, after each prayer or when the praying was something I didn't understand because it was in another language, I would worry what to say when it was my turn. All I was thinking about is how glad I was to be a single birth. (1st kind of thinking) Then we had a break and started the second prayer round and it was coming to my turn. I switched to the second kind of thinking to try and come up with something respectful and thoughtful. "I am sitting on the ground." I thought. "Ground. Sitting on the ground and it is hot. Sitting in a circle. At a sweat lodge. Sweating." none of my thoughts were a prayer. I did not know why everyone had to say their prayer because I was feeling the intended purification during the stillnesses; it was not a situation that called for verbal prayer.* After the woman before me gave a really stirring prayer for her countrymen, I improvised, "I am glad to be healthy. I am glad to be strong. I am glad to be free. I would like, also, to be lucky."
I went home this weekend partly to gather my things but mainly so I would not be missed at Easter, because it is not a religious holiday for me and I am not interested in the secular version. That means I need to mail my family some Easter cards. I just have my two divergent thought systems to work with. I started with one for my Nana. I respect her religion and it is culturally mine as well. I made a simple brown, red, and white card and am now trying to write a message:
"Dear Nana, I hope you are having a lovely Easter." and I do. but expanding on that, the resurrection and spring part... eh...
"Easter is April 12th. Easter. Easter. Oestor. No. Easter. Jesus. Most important day of the liturgical year. What is liturgical. Focus. Lovely Easter and.... and... East. er. She doesn't have to fast now. Why, she can get anything she'd like at McDonald's. Weird Al's parody of Whatever You Like.** No."
I hope you are having a lovely Easter. Well, of course you are, Christ the Lord is risen today! Have a wonderful Easter season.
For Mom I am making something spring based, like a sapling or an egg. For Nick I will probably make a joke emo easter egg or some such thing. I am stuck on what to do for Dad because he was a little cross that I am not doing Easter, and I don't think he likes my beliefs. I want to make something jokey but still sweet, not something critical. My first thought was a little flowchart of how Easter formed. Oh, I thought of a really funny joke. It involves extinction and skeletons. Luckily Dad and I have the same kind of sense of humor.
*I think after more than 15 years of working at words, dissecting them and playing with them and manipulating them, I have given them a fair shot and they are not for me. They are mostly just a distraction, like flies. A tiny portion of words are sublime but on the balance they are detractors.
**On Fridays in Lent, Catholics do not eat red meat, only fish. So, McDonald's invented the Fillet o Fish. Nana never eats fast food but when I visited her last we had to eat lunch while the car was being fixed, so we went there. And it was a friday in lent. But of course I only like meat sometimes, so I got french fries and she got fillet o fish. And this is unrelated. And it is a parody of this. Now you are all caught up culturally.