Wednesday, March 14th. The 22nd day of Lent.
I suppose there are numerous ways this could play itself out, but the point is that you and I cannot know what realities exist beyond our feeble powers of observation. Voyager has been traveling for 35 years and is just now leaving our solar system. And it’s not like Voyager has done a thorough job of mapping things along the way. Once you get a little ways out beyond earth, our ignorance is laughable.
Let’s face it. We don’t know much. We can’t see very far. And the farther away we look the farther back in time we see, which sounds cool until you realize that there is simply no physical way you and I can keep up with current events even in our own galaxy. And there is a LOT more out there beyond the Milky Way.
So okay, like I said, I see a few ways this could go. Tonight I’ll mention just one of them.
All of the prayers, hopes, dreams, rituals, acts of altruistic benevolence, cups of cold water offered to neighbors, all of our glorious myths that were thousands of years in the making with their subtle layers of meaning and symbol, the decades and decades of silence offered by monks of various faiths, the wisdom of accumulated years of human spiritual seeking, all of it has been continually rising up from humanity since humans first walked the earth. And it’s going nowhere. It is received – well not even received really, more like swallowed – by a cold, impersonal Cosmos. Which is to say that the only reality behind our spiritual offerings is any physical reality they might have. Which is to say that a certain amount of well-intentioned but ultimately futile heat rose and was dissipated into a reality so unthinkably vast that it’s as if all of that stuff never really existed.
It’s kind of like pissing into the Pacific Ocean and wondering if the temperature of the water changed.
That very well could be the deal.
In that case, I really don’t know what to make of all of the religious stuff we do. I mean, throw out all the hypocritical, self-serving, awful mess that often passes for religion these days. As Jesus once observed, they sought present and physical rewards and they got them. But it’s the other stuff that gets to me. The beauty of a truly human myth that arose from collective experience and consciousness over time. The absolutely lovely saint-like lives that are born out of a devotion to a higher intelligence and meaning. The passionate feeling down inside so many of us that whispers “you aren’t alone.” All of it. I truly don’t know what to do with it.
It kind of becomes – to my way of thinking – the largest work of poetry or performance art ever imagined. Millennia in the making, if taken all together, it certainly is quite an artistic and essentially human thing.
So I guess I’m on board with it. I’m all in. And I say that knowing there is a serious possibility that the spiritual stuff is ultimately not going to come to anything. I’m not just playing along either. I’m not talking about some cheap and easy Pascal’s Wager. I’m giving a pretty damn big chunk of my life to this thing, this spiritual impulse, this gigantamongous performance art thing, whatever it is.
“Can you believe Gordon, he really believes this shit.”
“I know, what the hell, right?”
So is there anything from the other side of the ledger worth mentioning? Small stuff, mostly. Kind of personal, embarrasing stuff that I say so softly you have to ask me to speak up.
I SAID, it’s making my heart sing, if you must know. And my heart beats faster when I think of the joy I’ll feel at the first allelujah we’ll shout on Easter Sunday. That’s something, isn’t it? It’s not nothing when you feel something in your heart, a powerful, shaking joy that seems to come, strangely enough, from feeling small and giving yourself to something beyond? It makes me cry a little because of the silly humanity behind it all, even more so if we all turn out to be complete fools because there’s nothing out there.
So yeah, okay. I’m in. But you already knew that about me. And that’s not the point of this. I’ve just been imagining how this thing could play itself out.
And of course, there are other scenarios we might imagine, right?