On the heels of a precipitous, quad burning pilgrimage to lay hands on the alter of the East Temple, yesterday found the Gang slogging up and down a seemingly endless series of deep sand knolls—sand so fine that the next step in its evolutionary destiny is to become dust—a sand as fine as the air we breath, so fine that it filled our shoes and penetrated tightly woven socks. It's one discouraging matter to find it necessary to stop and pour sand from one's shoes, a more disheartening matter entirely to pour sand from one's socks. Searching for inspiration to endure, Suzanne and I invoked scripture. Finding legs no less on fire, I made the leap from Jesus to Zig Ziglar, "What you get by achieving your goal is not as important as what you become by achieving your goal." Sometimes Mother Nature requires us to labor and toil in order to indulge her best kept secrets. What did you think, She was just going to serve them all up at a roadside turnout? Look what happened the the Grand Canyon. Is that what you want Grasshopper?
And labor and toil we did, on a vertiginous climb up to East Temple. I think toiling is easier when one can keep sight of the goal. On that day we did, an overwhelming, rusted red White House Monument that seemingly pierced Utah's cobalt dome. It lay above us like Heaven's Gate, no doubt Peter was getting a good laugh at our geezerhood assault.
East Temple is so immense...has its own field of gravity. Not so much a force that lightens one's load, unfortunately. No, it's more of a spiritual force, the kind that tugs at one's mind, heart…soul. Maybe because of the name, "Temple," or perhaps the angle of its repose against the blueness of eternity, but from the first time I laid eyes on East Temple I knew I had to touch it—to lay hands on it—to stand at its altar base.
Some will not connect with nor understand the above sentiment. I don't know how to explain it, really, other than I'm still working on peeling away all the layers of Pentecostal Religiosity that were so tightly wrapped around my childhood. Somewhere down deep inside, I've always known that my Mom and Dad's "religion" was not for me; it was far too fervent and rule oriented. But what, then, does a growing man child fill that center of the Universe void with? How does a little one fill the vacuum of a great Black Hole? Very slowly, that's how. It takes time and patience and trust…which sounds a whole lot like love, doesn't it?
I followed my heart out of the "four walls" and it led me to places with walls I better understood, places like Zion. Nature. In wilderness I feel the rejuvenation that I suspect my parents found within their choice of religions. Why they needed such a showy sleeve-worn religion I'll never know. But I am comfortable with my heart's leading...where I'm ending up. No one could ever talk me out of where I've landed; it feels right; it feels good. In Nature, I don't get hung up in the details of religiosity…who's right, who's wrong, who's going to Heaven, who's going to hell. That "stuff" will work itself out eventually and what I believe one way or another won't affect the outcome one iota. It lifts a burden, and makes it a pleasure to go to "church."
It's not lost on me that, while I have forsaken my parent's religious teachings, I haven't forsaken their example of being "good people." I've been fortunate to somehow separate those basic, positive human attributes, and accept them—wear them—without taking on what I consider the off-putting "pomp and circumstance." When I reflect back upon Mom and Dad's "fervent" years (they eased up toward the end) I can't help but wonder if they might not have been more effective at winning "souls" with a little less rigidity... fire and brimstone. I guess I'll never know. What I do know is that, in their hearts, Mom and Dad were truly well intentioned human beings. They gave and gave and gave of themselves to others, took people into our home, loved them, gave them food and shelter and, of course, Someone to turn to in time of need. Some of their converts went on to become nationally known evangelists…typical "preacher's son," I was not one of them.
I've come to accept and live with the remaining "layers" of religiosity Mom and Dad so tightly wrapped around my childhood. I think the secret lies in the ability to convert religiosity into spirituality. Semantics? Maybe so, but I just can't bear "stamping" all of my parent's goodness, dedication, and life's work with "NULL and VOID." I respect that they held to their faith, and can honestly say that it was their faith that got them through one of the biggest blows life can deal any parent, the loss of a daughter.
Thus, my religious roots surface in the BCB now and then as "spirituality." I have no problem with that, and somehow, if it's possible that Mom and Dad's spirits live on in some form of awareness, I don't think they would have a problem with my "landing." Judgement just wasn't their style, at least toward their senior years.
In life and love—when something is lost—it leaves a vacuum. If we are patient, something else will take its place. But it's difficult…complicated...because it doesn't always happen on our timetable. One of life's greatest obstacles is about finding the right people to surround ourselves with, people who reflect our love back upon us.
Given today's post, R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion comes to mind. It's about obstacles in life, unrequited love, you know, "stuff." There is a little something in these lyrics for everyone...
Stay tuned for the sand-slog to a fab slot canyon way out in the middle of nowhere.