Looking Back

I started a post about the new year on New Year’s Day, but I didn’t post it, and I didn’t complete it. I said, “I start every year looking back to the previous one.” I don’t want to start every year looking back to the previous one. I want to start new years by looking forward to the freshness of the coming year. We spend too much time looking back, but I think that reflection can be healthy. It can be healthy when we look back in order to look forward with new eyes, to realize that God brought us through the sea of shit we were wallowing in and into a new and healthy place. So this year I did look back. I looked back to see a sea of shit. I looked back to see the benevolence of my professors as I once again sorted through my life to find that I want to finish my PhD, and to see that they had compassion on my lack of commitment to my classes and to my scholarly endeavors. I look back to see that my family believes in me and in my efforts to better myself to better the world. And I can look forward with new hope, new vigor, and a newfound joy. I look forward knowing God’s love.

I was looking back through a little written journal I keep, and I found this poem that I started. It isn’t stellar, but it is a start. The form is called sestina, and I love it, but because of the repetition at the end of each line, they are really difficult to make interesting. This one was practice during a sermon or a lecture.

A homeless an hunched over. Loathing
pulled his back curved. Gruff
faced, over clothed, and no grace.
The street- his master
concrete and wind more powerful
and he by God orphaned.

Small, dark child orphaned
by AIDS; mother and father objects of loathing.
Their past was powerful-
The child’s present gruff-
A disease- their master.
For them, there is no grace.

God give us grace.
We have become orphaned.
We have made everything our master.
Saints: You should loathe
your bodies. Their words gruff.
You, God, are powerful.

Softness is powerful
as the hardest transgressor succumbs to grace.
His actions formerly gruff,
soul previously orphaned,
body wrapped in loathing
of his master.

We cannot serve two masters
no matter how powerful
we are. We will grow to loathe
the one and seek grace
from the other. We will be orphaned.
We will grow gruff.

Is life a bearded man, gruff?
Who is your master?
How have we ourselves orphaned?
How can we be loved powerful?
Is the precursor of divine grace
self-loathing?

Our loathe for self makes us gruff
and our grace becomes our master.
Are we powerful because we were orphaned?

I am not sure where I was when I wrote this, either mentally or physically, but I can say that I am much more full of hope than I was then. But I think there is something to the idea of grace being powerful. Grace and love.

EDIT:
Stuff from my other, old, defunct blog.

I didn’t exercise yesterday, the way I had hoped to, but I do feel like I am cleansing my body. Because I can’t separate the spiritual from my life, or from anything I do,and I don’t think that our minds and bodies are two separate entities, I find myself wanting to justify my choices through rational and spiritual means. I find myself wanting my body to respond more quickly than it to its lack of clogging substances. I want to wake feeling rejuvenated by my body’s lack of meat consumption. I want to hear my arteries singing, or at least to hear the blood flowing freely through them as a river coursing between its banks, but I hear nothing. I hear the silence of my body as it recuperates from years of abuse. The smoking, the drinking, the gluttonous consumption of food and drink have taken their toll on me. I am thirty-three and feel like I am eighty. But, I am aware and I am working toward a new me.

Fantastically, I think I expect the birds not to run from me because they know I am a friend of animals. I want wild beasts to come sit at my feet as I pet them and tell them stories of my non-animal consumption and that I am doing it all for them.

Realistically, I know that changes like these take time, and I know that the animals will remain fearful, as well they should. I am not Snow White.

One of my justifications for being vegan has always been that I think humans were created to be vegan, and better yet, I think we were instructed to protect or to care for the animals. I am not particularly a biblical literalist, but I think there are some parts of the bible that can be used to guide our decision. The parts about diet seem to be particularly helpful when trying to decipher how to live. Because there are so many “rules” about eating, I assume that God wants us to be healthy in oru food choices. At least we are to be different from oru counterparts in our choices. God separated the Israelites from those around them by instructing them about their habits of consumption. Does God want modern day Christians to make similar decisions? Genesis 1:27-30 says:

So God made man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

I think that when the world began even the animals didn’t eat each other. We didn’t eat them, and everything ate plants. Specifically, we ate seed-bearing plants, and fruits with seeds in them. I think this is an interesting idea. And I, for one, think the most spiritually pure way to live is to eat plants, not animals. I have a clearer conscience when I don’t eat animals. So this is my spiritual appeal for veganism.

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