Archive for the ‘grieving’ Category

People Watching

Expelled. From the garden. Crime and punishment. What a punishment. To be compelled to discover the world. The mountains. The rivers. Appellations for all of this. Creating artificial borders

The conflicts. Reparations. A lot like for sins, war reparations. Over time.

The “Stans.’ Those countries where the Ubis, the Pakis called home. Or the Kurds. Or the Afghans. Where rivers divide. Where mountains formed by glaciers had underground sources of water. Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan. Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan. Turkmenistan. East Turkistan, Uyghuristan, and Uyghurstan.

Muslims. In the “_stans.” There was a lot of fear about all the ___stans. After the collapse of the Soviet Union. To discover all of it. The transforming world of glaciers. As icecaps melted. Somewhere bin Laden. Amidst the snow and the wind, still howling like an animal lost off the mountain top. Looking for reparations. And people watching. Amidst the conflict.

Catholics. In Europe. In the Americas. In Africa. In the changing world. The recording of the atmosphere of otherworldliness. In search for “core competencies.” In school. In the real world. People watching.

Expelled. Charlie Weiss was expelled as coach of the Notre Dame football team. There was a time when every Catholic male in the country would care about this news story. That atmosphere of otherworldliness, in South Bend. Were concerns about Notre Dame’s recruiting reflective of problems that the Roman Catholic Church had with the current generation? Way beyond football? Was it poor leadership that had allowed the prestige of otherworldliness to slip away? Was their some kind of identity theft which had occurred over the past generation that was just be discovered now? Was it about social-issue questions. Worldly social issue questions so much focused on sex?

The best consultants use the rhetoric of personal empowerment. A messianic devotion to gurus.

“Outright shamans who sprinkle on the science like so much fairy dust.” Political polling. Politicians. Tax and spend politicians. To build. Land use and global warming. Deforestation. Attention was directed at carbons in the air, but not at the issue of land use.

“Up in the Air.” The book was now a George Clooney movie. About a new sovereign state. Based on airlines. And frequent flying. Where the world was based upon the all-important miles. Flown miles and the control of credit cards. To be compelled to discover the world.

Creating artificial borders
With the firmest tenets. Of liberty. In thin air. In places where business people called home. Airports. Smelling and breathing at the same time.

People watching. Stealth people watching. It was an inhuman time. When the nineties will be remembered as the decade of finance, of computers. And then 2009. Now more sophisticated. More jaded and knowing. Where every question comes down to economics. It was an inhuman time, with bright lights and glamour. Without a lot of emotion or human drama. But style. And now addressing that pain. With the hang over from the Greenspan cheap money era of the last decade, where all the excesses were around at sea level. Prepared for the physical deadlines, the financial deadlines, I faced now. Of the body. Of a tooth ache.

That atmosphere of other-worldliness. Prayer. On mountaintops. Smelling and breathing at the same time. With fewer spiritual pretensions than found at sea level. Oriented over time to something within. Like the melting icecaps. Of the fabled snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the Swiss glaciers. Was global climate change real? Addressing the pain. Nations in Copenhagen seemed to think the clock was ticking.

To be compelled to discover the world. “Core competencies.” Now addressing the crimes. Of endangered places. And addressing that pain. From abscesses and excesses. As an imposed punishment. Of the created artificial borders. Oh to be compelled to discover the world.

People watching. Dramatically inert. Neither knowing nor caring what it is interiorly involved. What’s going on inside the borders of that face? Without my emotional response. Actors. Actresses. “She just stands around.” With a pretty, childlike face. Smelling and breathing at the same time. Without an awareness. It was December. With long stretches of people watching. Without recognizing the border. It all seemed so much like cotton candy. So what should be an appropriate expression, for an adult?

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To be moved, in this world with all of its dysfunction, to act.

The 40% of American Catholics that had moved to different churches, amidst the dysfunction. The European Catholics who just plain quit worshiping. The leadership which by the way was supposed to believe in the Gospel of “I am the Good Shepard,” failed to respond to the dysfunction. Mostly it was left to the parish priest. The leadership, which seemed to called to go looking for its lost sheep, were lost in their own spiritual golf game.

To be moved. When creation had become chaos. Golf games. The priests to whom I was related had loved to play golf. Simple parish priests.

Dysfunction. The dysfunction. I saw it not far from my home in the black community. I heard it on a walk the other night where one woman never took a deep breath in the 120 to 180 seconds I just stood listening to an uninterrupted rant inside a house. When another neighbor came along from the opposite direction, I felt like I had to move on. It might have been the television but if it was, a commercial seemed over due. To this passer-by, it was not funny. It was hilarious.

Uninterrupted rants. There were a lot of them in the world. Creation had become chaos. All that the Good Book says is that Noah submits to God’s will and nothing more;uninterrupted rants. About the ongoing effects of World War II. When you elected leaders who had lived through it all. It was not just what Adolph Hitler had done to all of us, Jews and non-Jews. It was what Stalin had done to all of us. When so much of the media was ready to offer canonization, what had the leadership of John Paul II done to the church? How could anyone lived a life through all of this and not show affects of dysfunction?

Gdansk in 2001. People coming back to claim property wrongfully taken. Gdansk is about my favorite historical place in all the world. On issues of freedom in that shipyard. Following September 11, there were not many travelers looking at the Gdansk museum, where I learned that Gdansk represented much more than just Lech Walensa. The fight for freedom that arose there under the leadership of Lech Walensa came from events that had happened at the shipyard over a 10 year period. Massacres really. This was the successful Polish uprising, a lot like the ones that had ultimately failed in Warsaw in response to German occupation.

Where was the accountability in Rome to all the lost sheep? It was not just the abuse of the 20th Century and the lack of response from Rome. It was about addressing the status of women in the church for the 21st Century. Men born before World War II did not see the need to address it. Not when nuns were still ironing your vestments, making your food, and cleaning your apartment.

With a dysfunction seen in the corporate world with board of directors appointed by CEOs. When those boards did not question executive compensation. With politics as usual, without a concern for the real world. The real world of Bernard Law. And archbishops like that all over the country, not much different than the world of Wall Street.

When there was a laziness that came from your habits, without thinking. Going back to the same staid ways. When things quit working. The culture will soon be demanding even more reparations for these sins, if they had not already. The juries made up of women were a scary scene when they were going to sit in judgment of this church, on issues of damages against the church.

In this dysfunctional world, with all of the lost sheep

That party in Omaha. “What did you think about John Paul II.”

To be moved. Beyond words of apology. To be moved to change. It was time. This Penecost Sunday.

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not!)


I purchased this book entitled Noli Me Tangere , at Easter time in the Philippines three years ago. With little understanding of the title. Up until now I had been thinking this language was some kind of Tagalog expression. And I still have never completed reading the book

This past week, 3 years later, I discovered a piece of art work with the same title. It was Lavinia Fontana’s “Noli Me Tangere,” which was mentioned in this week’s edition of America magazine.

Noli Me Tangere. Up until now I had never recognized the Latin phrase. This week I discovered that Noli Me Tangere is a Latin translation of the original scrolls of Scripture from the Easter Sunday morning description in the Gospel of John (20: 14-17) which has been translated “Don’t touch me.” In Fontana’s work of art, Mary Magdalen is not even trying to touch the Gardener. A Filipino might tell you that the translation is “Touch me not.”

Now about the author, Jose Rizal. He was a Filipino, educated in Europe, who became an ophthalmologist. He lived in interesting times when Spain had long ruled over the Philippines. His novel was written in 1887 when he was 26 years old. Today his novel is taught to help establish a sense of national identity among a people divided by dialect, social class, ethnic group and ideology on 7,000 islands.

The novel created so much controversy that when Rizal returned to the Philippines after completing medical studies, he quickly was exiled only a few days after his arrival to an island a 3 day journey away from Manila by boat. With charges that Noli was full of subversive ideas, with the portrayal of corruption and abuse by both the country’s Spanish government and the clergy, government officials were pressured by the Church to take action against the book. A character, Father Dámaso, impregnates a woman, when the fathering of illegitimate children by members of the Spanish clergy was a reality.

Now about that title: Rizal’s friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, stated that Noli Me Tangere is the term used as the professional nickname used by an ophthalmologist to describe cancer of the eyelids and tear glands. Rizal was executed in 1896 following a military trial, so he was not around long to offer his own explanation.

“Noli Me Tangere” is also what the Resurrected Jesus instructed Mary Magdalene on the morning in the garden, 3 days after Good Friday. The phrase did not exactly resonate until yesterday. Hearing another Gospel account of that same day when the Resurrected Jesus met Mary Magdalene, also in the Gospel of John, with this Doubting Thomas apostle. About one week later from this Noli Me Tangere story, Christians hear of an invitation by the Resurrected Jesus inviting the now famous Doubting Thomas to touch him. So why is Thomas invited to touch the Resurrected Jesus and Mary Magdalene was not? And what exactly did this Noli Me Tangere really mean? What exactly is going on here?

In Noli Me Tangere: Mary Magdalen: One Person, Many Images, there is a discussion by Karlijn Demasure and Hannelore Devoldere of the Greek — the preceding language of Scripture, and of the Greek verb of movement. The writers explain “Noli Me Tangere” was a commandment to join with the others, in a grieving. The interpretation is not ‘do not come to me’, but ‘go’ to the apostles. ‘Go join the community.’

In this “Noli Me Tangere” story, there is absolutely no mention of the Resurrection. In this “Noli Me Tangere” explanation, Karlijn Demasure and Hannelore Devoldere are much more observant about this personal encounter in the garden, with no announcement of what has happened. There is Mary Magdalene’s recognition of the voice of Jesus, without realizing what really has happened, without an understanding of this New Life to Jesus that Mary had witnessed.

With all the knowledge of the modern day Christian, insight is lost of the fear and confusion on her part.  Especially the fear.  When Jesus said “noli me tangere,” Karlijn Demasure and Hannelore Devoldere suggest, the interpretation was about only approaching Him now through  a holy Spirit; ‘You don’t have the understanding yet.’ To get the understanding of what is going on, “Get to the apostles!”  With your eyelids and tear glands and tears.

“Noli Me Tangere” is an instruction about a change in a relationship that was about to happen. Mary Magdalen finds the Beloved only to be immediately asked to go share the news, let him go again, and to stop clinging onto her idea.  Her way of thinking about past relationships. Thus, most miss out on the instruction to join with the others; miss out that this business in a new creation soon to be called Christianity is never to be a solo pursuit.

The other emphasis in the story is on closeness. In the “breathed into” part. I am “breathed into” only by those I allow to have a closeness. It is the companionship part of life. It is the companionship part that moves me beyond myself to others. By those who knew how bad I smelled. Mammals in the story in the evolutionary process. Join with the other mammals, with their innate fears surrounding decisions about death. The surrounding fear of wild mammals –‘Touch Me Not” –which was about to change.

‘You don’t have the understanding yet.’ Explaining who you were all along. These were still the days when the understanding was not there yet of what the personal side of Jesus was all about, before the passing on that name, Christian, and the personal subtle side to His companions.  There first was this need to join the others.  In explaining who you were all along, there is this need for a community.

One sent. The headlines will be explained over time, and the most important part of the story was yet to come. ‘You don’t have the understanding yet.’

And how did all of this apply to the history of the Philippines, by an author who happened to be a physician, who was put to death?  I wanted to finish my reading of Noli Me Tangere , of that book addressing a bit of the history of the Philippines. That book with the title encompassing cancer of the eyelids and tear glands, in a story about revolution and a sense of national identity, among a people who that line, ‘You don’t have the understanding yet,’ had quite an application at that point in history.  And today.

And like the New Testament instruction of “Noli Me Tangere” about a change in a relationship that was about to happen, the Philippines was then under the dominion of Spain.  The Inquisition in Spain which began with fervor in 1492 was still alive.  Had there been a separation of Church and State in the times written about by Jose Rizal, with the government fear of a story about revolution and a sense of more true identity?

I had seen where Rizal was held on the night before his execution. But I never understood the spiritual connection that the Filipino people had for this national hero. Or to this book title. Or of the truly spiritual part of my trip to that nation at Easter time. And I never saw the author’s understanding of what was going on, with idea about past relationships, about a change in a relationship that was about to happen, or about the meaning of this title. I had never understood the importance of the instruction to join with the others. And I never had comprehended the method of how — the reason how.  In the how to come together.

How to form a community.  How to grieve correctly together. . .with others.

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