Monday, April 3, 2017

daydream to-morrow's judgment

Having confessed he feels
That he should go down on his knees and pray
For forgiveness for his pride, for having
Dared to view his soul from the outside.
Lie at the heart of the emotion, time
Has its own work to do. We must not anticipate
Or awaken for a moment. God cannot catch us
Unless we stay in the unconscious room
Of our hearts. We must be nothing,
Nothing that God may make us something.
We must not touch the immortal material
We must not daydream to-morrow's judgment—
God must be allowed to surprise us.
We have sinned, sinned like Lucifer
By this anticipation. Let us lie down again
Deep in anonymous humility and God
May find us worthy material for His hand. 
--Patrick Kavanagh, "Having Confessed"


I imagine Purgatory as all the hurt we've ever caused another, inflicted back on to us.


Churches at night have a golden glow that swells in a stark contrast with the dark outside. The stained glass windows do not refract the sun into glorious colors, dousing the congregation in the nave with the light of the communion of saints. We are always soaked in the holiness of the lives who have gone before us. As we stand to pray, we are showered in the radiance of the saints. Our prayer is part of a grand and beautiful landscape of grace, distilled into light. 


I imagine Purgatory as all the hurt we've ever caused another, inflicted back on to us. Our hearts are so small, our empathy so lacking, and Purgatory, I imagine, is a school of love that demands we expand our hearts so that they can encompass the pain of the other. I imagine Purgatory as an exercise in empathy. A practice in unity. A way of being together that we feel the hurts and pains of those we've harmed as clearly as if they were inflicted upon ourselves. Heaven is something we become, the priest said. And, in order for us to become heaven, the body of Christ must become healed together. Each member must feel the wounds that burn the others. In order for us to dwell in that radical unity, in order that Christ really can be all-in-all, we must suffer all for all. 


Churches at night have a golden glow that swells in a stark contrast with the dark outside. The stained glass windows at night do not radiate color through the church. Their rainbow prisms do not dance on the pews. The high glass arches become portals into divine dark mystery. God is ineffable utterance, something utterly beyond. Our intellect falls into night as we try to comprehend our God. As we approach him to pray, we find ourselves lost in what he is, enveloping the golden church in the warm, dark mystery of love.


We are guilty for all before all, cries Dostoevsky, over and over again. Perhaps Purgatory is time--Only through time time is conquered--spent in the cleansing cold of that guilt, of the burning fires of love that kindles our lukewarm sparks. Heaven is something we become. How do we become it, if not by learning to love our neighbor, to suffer whatever is lacking in the sufferings of Christ together? We are so stiff-necked, so small-minded, so naively blundering through the world, causing small hurts, tiny cuts, bitter slights each day to so many neighbors. In Purgatory, we will learn to see. We will be able to pay attention to our sisters and brothers with the radical attentiveness of Simone Weil. We will understand just how much our careless words stung and how much victim we made each lamb.

The high glass arches become portals into divine dark mystery. In a church like this, golden light, dark night beyond, the orchestra plays Camille Sans-Sean's Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Opus 78. It is music that is full of charitas, sad, sweet philia and grand agape. I think this is the sound of a body that is wounded, but whole. This is the sound of Heaven. It is the sound of time--she protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure--this is time being played in a symphonic rhythm, time tuned into a glorious noise, which builds us, shapes us, molds us into one body corporate. This is the sound of bright, dancing flames licking at our thighs. This is the sound of love of neighbor unspooled across the cosmos. This sound is the sound of love unfettered. 

This church at night is Purgatory. A school of love, a school of sound, a burst of beauty that shows us, in one radiant flash that Heaven, that something we will become.

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