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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Riding the Big Fish into the Sunset 

Born Again.

How many times over the course of my life have I heard or read those words in religious tomes, on bumper stickers, ashtrays, and t-shirts. I even read them on an angry picketer's sign as I marched proudly in the West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade carrying my own sign that informed the world, in huge letters, "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!"

I became or decided on Christianity as a small child. I guess I was around four years old. I had a Godfather. I called him my Goddog. My parents didn't want any part of it. They did not see a world that was created by a brilliant and loving God, or that any of the martyrs made much difference to the human condition, but I believed in the idea of God as creator before I ever entered a sanctuary.

It was in the Episcopal Church that I met Her Kid, Jesus.

Christ. The Saviour. The Holy One. The One Who Died for Us. Know Him and be born again or something.

The story certainly compelled me as a young, curious, imaginative, child. I saw the art work. Christ broken and bleeding on the Cross, nailed up by His hands or wrists, naked, imploring, "My God why hast thou forsaken me?" as his persecutors continued to whip Him and tear at His garments and let Him bleed to death, his bones finally broken formally to assure his demise. And then He was put in a tomb and a few days later He got up and was seen by some of His friends! One of whom was a prostitute!

Well, then! That was some story for a kid to set her mind on. And adults around me said it all really happened and Jesus' Mom was a virgin and on and on the fascinating and very worldly details were told and retold and really it didn't seem very fun at all after a while. The whole thing just felt morbid to me after a time and I was bored with it. I could not relate with a grown man hanging on a cross because He chose to. How could I? What were the chances that I would ever be nailed up and bleeding and crying out to my God? Even my worst autistic outburst never earned me that punishment.

So, for years, I developed my relationship, or rather, ahem, My God developed a relationship with me. I liked my God. I loved my God. She was the coolest. Big and Strong and She painted the sky and coloured the ocean and made roses and dirt and frogs and Mars and Saturn and red deserts and comets and fish and dogs and violets and those pine trees! I thought for sure She was a Lioness. A big golden Lioness prowling around the cosmos smelling like pine trees. And I knew for sure She Loved me because I could draw and write and swim and dance. Not as beautifully as God, but pretty darn good! If She didn't Love me, she wouldn't let me do important things like paint and sing and solve mathematical equations! Yep, I was solid with God. She showed me the dew on the grass in the morning and painted the sky for me at night and taught the birds to sing my name.

But there was still her kid. Jesus. I heard it a million times. For God so Loved the world He gave His only Son that we might be saved or something. The *He* part of God bugged me from the start. And saved from what exactly? The universe seemed pretty neat and wild and freaky to me. And, a kid has to have two parents. Joseph and Mary. Okay. But this is God's kid. Who's the other parent? So, at about ten years old I came up with my own Trinity thing based on the stories that were being thrown about all the time. I decided that God was both a Mother and Father and they had a baby named Jesus and they let him do whatever he wanted and I just related to the Mom part of God more than the Dad. I was glad that I wasn't *really* Gods' kid, because, yeah they were cool and all, but offering Jesus up to die? No thanks. I'll be a shirttail relative.

See ya at Christmas!

And as I rode along on the Lioness' back into my teen years, God began to show me Her different shapes and personalities. When I fell down, ashamed, taunted, beat up for being different, it was always the soft Lioness with the deep, warm, growl, and good smelling fur, whispering words just for me so I could get up again and be a little steadier and face the world. Sometimes, She said, "Hop on, I'll give you ride to school." And there we'd go and I'd feel Loved enough to perform in plays and musicals and set swim records and dissect frogs and make friends and get a little stronger each day.

Then, one day in Summer, I must have been 17, swimming in the vast, perfect, ocean, God swam right up looking like an enormous goldfish with wings and said, "Hop on, let's go to the sun." And She showed me my passion and fire and I found fight and I began to really believe in Her Creation and to want to protect it and I was all burning energy and I nearly went up in cinders, but God doused me in the cool ocean and saved me from myself.

I think that's called baptism.

I decided I wanted to be a priest, but I still didn't know about that kid of Hers. Jesus. I mean what was He doing these days? Did His Mom still take Him swimming and to the sun and pick up stars that fell into the sea and got all squirmy? Or was He really old? Or was it just a story God wrote? I happen to know that God is a fine maker of stories. The Genesis ramble is a ride!

Then, one warm night, I was just flopped down on the beach, looking at the stars, and I asked God about her Kid and about this whole wine and bread, flesh and blood thing, and what that was all about, because I had gone to church and eaten the bread and drank the wine and I didn't really feel anything. What was all this born again business? I'm already born, I reasoned, as I came to feel free to talk with my God frequently.

She is too polite to just laugh at you when you think you're smarter than She is. She just waits until you realize how hilarious *you* are and then laughs with you. Sometimes She ties your shoelaces together and sends you to work at Walmart because you tell her you want to *know* yourself.

That's the thing about God. She's as gentle as a breeze when you're flat, weeping, mourning, or scraped up. But, boy, stand up and tell Her you want Her to get in here and show you who you are and She'll pounce on you like the Lioness She is and pin you there while you writhe and cry and curse Her, and then she'll take your change and go get a double espresso on the Milkyway while you cuss her out for treating you like a distant relative that you only see on Christmas.

And as She blows you a sweet kiss, she signs it, "that's your choice." And you curse Her even more, because it seems that choices are increasingly difficult to come by and not very interesting and it's all going absolutely nowhere, fast.

Walmart. God sends me to the Toy Department at the Holidays at Walmart, when I decide upon returning from my idyllic trip to San Juan Island that I want to *know who I am.* I was going to Walmart to buy a big bottle of pain relievers when I felt strangely drawn to fill out an application. A week later, I was working at Walmart, for minimum wage. Then I was a customer service manager. Then I started handing out Union cards and then the image of Jesus on that Cross flashed in my mind and I ran away. Really away. I became depressed, lost. I yelled at God, "I want to know who I am without all this societal baggage! I did not ask to put on a blue apron and play Norma Rae!"

God blew me another kiss, signed, "you chose that." Then I was really mad! After all my devotion to my heavenly Mother, this is the help I get! "Go away!" I shouted. "Get out! And stop reading my journal and scrutinizing my boyfriends!"

She only said, "okay." Then she added, "would I have brought you this far not to go all the way with you?"

"um...you know, Lady, Walmart is not the image I had of myself. Scram! Yeah, first it's trips to exotic islands and then it's the ole switcheroo. Minwage in the toy deparment and I'm in the Union fray! Forget it! I am the grrl with the boy's heart who sits at a desk in front of a computer and bleh, bleh, bleh. And that Kid of yours is a dope! Sheepie, sheepie, sheepie! Not me! Scram," I said, "scram!!"

But She didn't, because She's not like that. She just sat there with me at as I looked at that beautiful night sky and I thought about how it was created, Then She made the concept of E=MC2 real in a glass of wine she shared with me and a piece of homemade bread she taught me how to make. And I wept on her fur for Her amazing, delicate, creation, and our human shortsightedness in protecting it. But she never made me feel guilty for getting angry with her.

I think that's called communion.

And I went on and I felt intellectually curious and fed and I felt loved by God and I still had no idea who I was. During this whole time, I was posting to a list called EGR-Irregulars, and I swear I still have singe marks from nearly sending myself up in flames. And I'm pretty sure my heart has a little mark left by a special boy, and I still felt lost, and I began to despair, and I thought God had abandoned me and that my journey was for nothing, and so I flopped down in my backyard with a bottle of Tylenol P.M. and bottle of wine and decided to save everyone the trouble seeing me through the development of a dread disease or being hit by an icecream truck.

I don't know why some people succeed in this endeavor and others like me do not. Just recently, when I was riding around the ocean on God's fins, She told me to stop with all the "why's!" "Why's" are for how the universe works and why the sky is blue and how babies are formed, not, ABSOLUTELY NOT, for why I'm alive, while my friend Christoper died on 9/11. She told me point blank, that's Her private forest, and I will come away with a burned, melted, damaged, self, every time I try to wander in. Then, to send the point in deeper, She told me to stop painting over her creation. Me, that is. Stop changing the concept when you don't even understand it! Damn, She's fierce, that God.

And then, yesterday, I woke up crying and I cried ALL DAY LONG. I wailed, I kicked, I asked for help, I refused help, I wanted to sleep, I wanted to stay awake, I wanted to throw myself off a bridge. I cursed God for spending the last two years showing me NOTHING. I still have no direction! I still do not know who I am!

And then, God, who is a night owl, kept me up all night, and I kept crying, and resisting, and thinking about battles and choosing battles and what Walmart had to do with it and then I was on that cross. I had no way down, I had no one to listen-God had put Roberto to bed long ago and it was just the two of us.

She and I.

And then I remembered this Psalm-

As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God, when can I come and stand before Her?

Day and night, I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, "Where is this God of yours?"

My heart is breaking, as I remember how it used to be.
I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and thanks-it was a song of great celebration!

Why am I so discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Her again-my saviour and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember your kindness, I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.

Through each day, God pours Her unfailing Love upon me, and through each night I sing Her songs, praying to God who gives Life.

"O, My God, My Rock!" I cry. "Why have thou forsaken me? Why must I wander in darkness, oppressed by my enemies?"

Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound. They scoff, "Where is this God of yours?"

Why am I so discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God-I will praise Her again-my Saviour and my God!''

And then kicking and screaming and wailing, I was born.

Again.

And I heard a little song....Let there be Peace on earth and let it begin with me....and God showed me who I am.
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House of Oracle has closed it's doors to pursue Peaceful means to global conflict and that begins with me, CCO of House of Oracle. With deepest amends, I extend my heart and hand to ask forgivness of those whose Peace I have disrupted with my words or deeds.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

we are having a real summer downpour in California, and I am sitting around writing haiku.

like Christ in the tomb risen
my heart soars to stand
if only i could believe

-TOBIISHI
July, 1942

TOBIISHI is my Haiku pseudonym. It is Japanese, in English characters, for Stepping Stone. TOBIISHI has been writing Haiku since 1930. Don't ask. I was a weird kid.
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