We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Now and Not Yet

Written By: Charles - Apr• 25•20

Spring and Corona Lunacy II

Saturday gratefuls: Zoom, bytes into friends and family. Cool air. Kep and Rigel letting me sleep. Seoah’s pork and sweet potato noodles. Reorganizing the loft. Echoes of Peace. The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwall’s novels into TV, a real game of thrones. History. Mitochondrial Eve. Out of Africa, my DNA clan members who went east instead of west. And those who became my direct ancestors in Europe. The Sun.

When my old friends gather, Zoom on Sunday mornings, half a minyan for those septuagenarians and the octogenarian, we ask each to reflect. Bill’s turn. The oldest of us, now on his 84th journey around our true god.

Here’s what he wants:

Sunday Zoomers,

Here are my musings in preparation for this coming Sunday’s Zoom.

Yes, I am aware of what I have said about living in the present.

And, along side of that thought, I would like to get your thoughts on living with the “not-yet.”  The not-yet is about the future. I have an interest In making a difference.  My imagination sees life getting better and me being part of creating that better.  Purpose, passion, creativity, new place, new project, open to imagination, choosing to create a better future… 

When I remember my early life and my thoughts at the time, I know I am living better than I imagined.  Now is better than “the good old days.”  Tell us about your thoughts of living ever forward and Now.  This is not an assignment, rather an opportunity to explore together our not-yet.  What’s in your imagined future?

When I studied the New Testament at United Theological Seminary, we talked a lot about the now and the not yet. Life was the now and the not-yet was the after life. In life we lived for Christ and after death we had the promise of life. Not the three story universe, Greek and Gnostic inspired visions of harps, wings, and halos. Not that. Not sure. Mighta been that great wakin’ up mornin’ with everybody asleep in the grave till then. Mighta been Dante’s Paradiso, but probably not. Mighta been a place of abundance and joy.

We also studied those who thought the Kingdom of God was among us, right now. The after life was not important, maybe not even real; but, this life was the place, maybe the only place, where we could taste justice, love for all creatures, forgiveness.

Then of course mindfulness. Living in the now. All we have is the present moment. No tomorrow. No past. Just this breath, this sight, this feeling, this living instant.

Bill’s question is an old one, older than he is. If you can imagine. And a good one because the moment is, though all we ever have, not all we ever have.

There is in fact a past that we drag with us, clinking and clanking, from instance to instance. No we can’t go back there. No. Does that mean it’s not real? Hardly. It is a pantheon of gods, demons, and angels. Shaitan, too. It is the pantheon that rules our lives, for good and for ill, our own personal Genesis, an Olympus only you will ever know fully, created ex nihilo, but within the strictures of consciousness.

That past tells us about the not-yet. It tickles our imagination in the present, suggests and/or determines where we might be headed. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. It was Clyde Steckel, professor of Pastoral Psychology at United, who said that we could understand the psyche as well using the old ideas of demons and angels as we can using Freud or Seligman or Rogers. It’s metaphors all the way down.

There is in fact a future, which was the past, all of our future moments considered by psyche, curated, land-mined, stuffed into the bag of our memory. Brought out like toys from Santa’s sack or like coal from the sack of the Krampus. Here’s a switch little boy. Eh.

When I was a senior in college, maybe 21, we played bridge a lot in the Tally Ho, the campus union. I recall sitting there playing a six-no trump hand and all of sudden having this thought: I didn’t have to go to college. It was a revelation and a chastisement. My education beyond high school had always been a choice, but it had never occurred to me. College came after high school, so I went.

My life became my own in that moment. It was no longer determined by expectations, but created through choice.

Since then, I’ve been cheated of volition by an angry demon named grief who showed up at the bottom of beer bottles and Rusty Nails. I’ve been lifted up by the god of learning and Cupid, who kept me coming back to love in spite of repeated failure. An angel sat on my shoulder during the Ira Progoff sessions, helping me open myself to new futures like Colorado and the grandkids. Pan has dominated my inner world and often my outer one, too. Dogs, gardens, bees, living in the mountains.

The next years? What of those? Where does the ancientrail of my life lead now? Words are part of it. Paint. This mountain. Kate. Kep and Rigel. Joe and Seoah and Murdoch. Jon and Ruth and Gabe. Congregation Beth Evergreen. Cancer. COPD. Altitude. Old friends. New friends. Technology.

And my dream of free will. Often all it is. So much is still determined. Perhaps not so much by expectations now, though those, too, but by an aging body, the particularity of this location in the Rocky Mountains. By the life trajectories of others.

My thread, the through line that I see in my life, suggests that I’ll continue wrestling the angel of faith. I will finally write my book on reconstructing, reenchanting. I’ve got one chapter underway, my goal is to finish it by June 13th. Becoming Native to This Place.

Another thread in the rope pulling me towards the not-yet is family, friends. Their lives, your lives, become more and more of mine. Living as an elder has many unfamiliar roles and responsibilities.

Coming to know the mountains around us and beneath us. The state and the lands around it. Enough.

One last push for the Great Work. How to organize it? Perhaps see the author of Braiding Sweetgrass as a scholar in residence at CBE. With her presence inviting other native peoples and synagogues. Finish my pagan way, add it to the pile of those made sad, of those grieving and those angry about the despoliation of our mother.

As Seoah might say, wait and see. I’ll have to wait in this moment and see about the not-yet.

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