Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Public Hell

Dear friend,
I feel I live in hell.  Not some euphemism, but I truly wonder if it is not this world that is, in fact, hell.  Sometimes I believe the most insidious type of hell would not be one where we are condemned to eternal fire, or frozen up to our necks in ice, or some other perpetual torture.  Those hells are static – never changing.  Just unceasing agony.

This hell is the hell where beauty and wonder are dangled right in front of us and as we reach to touch them, they are destroyed.  It is the hell where we search for companionship and love then find it and have it snatched away.  That is a dynamic, living, and vibrant hell.  One that provides hope, then replaces it with hopelessness. One with powerful grief and episodic loneliness and pain.  One with death and annihilation. One where the playground bully taunts us.

“Hey, John, do you want to play with us?”
“Psych!  How’s it feel to want, pussy…”

Cast out.  Like Adam and Eve.  The paradise was dangled in front of us then taken away.

That is an insidious and unpredictable hell.  And it is my hell.

I no longer wonder if I will loose someone I love, or something I love.  I expect it.  I wait for it. And when a neighbor’s 7-year-old son dies, as happened last week, I shed tears, but am also numb and resigned.  For it is what happens in this hell.  He was a sweet and beautiful child.  He was the embodiment of hope and the future.  That his life was taken so quickly, that his parents must suffer the worst pain of all pains, is an abomination - an inexplicable abomination.

“The Lord giveth; and the Lord taketh away,” someone said that week.  Really? If I believe that then I believe in a trickster God.  One with the conniving sense to bless a man and woman with a beautiful child, possess in them the power of the ultimate love that a parent feels for a child, endow in them the promises of re-birth and future that a newborn represents, then take it all away.  Just like that playground bully.  I cannot abide that God.

So this is the place from which I start.  And I ask myself: How do I construct meaning and purpose and sense in this hell-ish place?  How do I manifest desire and hope and promise?

There is perhaps one way.  Represented by my two boys, and the neighbors son, may they not live, or die, in vain.  If there is a way through and out of this hell, if there is a path at all, it is embodied with them.  If they live to love, and others like them, live to love then we can beat this trickster God and overwhelm his hell with our love.  It may take millennia, but it is only through human capacity to love that the force of love is generated from where there was none.  As the swirling atoms came together they first had no capacity to love, but as gravity worked its magic and pulled the elements of life together, and the life force was breathed into them, the capacity for love sprang forth.  I wonder if not the Genesis story of Adam and Eve is misinterpreted.  Perhaps it was the fruit of The Tree that also endowed us the ability to love.  So when God realized we acquired the power to overwhelm him through love, He banished us for all times from his so-called paradise; from his playground. And now our duty is to overcome the chaotic randomness of this world and drown it with love.

This is no new pronouncement – many faiths preach of this.  But I wonder if the message was confused.  God is love?  Maybe it is humans that are love.  Maybe that is our calling.  To evolve to a potentiality that is nothing but the emanation of love.  What other creatures or elements are so capable?

I like to think I have the thoughtful energy to apply this, to teach and nurture those boys to emanate love but my energy store was completely drained a year ago.  Completely drained.  I have been able to recharge it enough to function, most days, but it is below capacity and some days runs dangerously low.

Sounds like I am making excuses, and I guess I am.  But I’m just trying to provide a context.  I feel tired and weak some days.  Molding those two boys takes time and energy.  Time I am trying to create.  Energy I seek to restore.  Right now, though, I feel the need to rest. The soil has been turned over and lies fallow so its fertileness can recover.

My head hangs heavy as I gaze down to my blistered, upturned palms. Red clay obscures the cracked skin and deep folds.  Dirt and sand and dried blood press under my split nails.  It has been a difficult and tiresome season.  And like the soil, hopefully well prepared, I lie down to rest.



  1. This is beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration. Hope your weekend is filled with love.

  2. John,
    Being in this way is toiling on your well being. I appreciate that you have the courage to share with us.
    I’d like you to read this short article.
    Perhaps think about some of the recommendations in the study as realistic ways to help yourself heal.