The Rapturous March Of A Single Saint Thru The Mind Of Athena Grace

All the good seats are taken.  Flies are soaring gaily about, adding an air of third world grime to the dark ambiance of Gaylords Cafe.  The sky is neither committed to grey, nor blue.  I’m pressing right up against my resistance to settling into my linguistic flow.  My mind is a meaningless swirl of random thoughts, sorta like a “suicide” slurpy at seven eleven.  You know, all six hideous flavors mixed together to create a cup of sweet, frozen, black, sludgy death.  Given that, which of these individuated specimens of mind debris shall I harvest for you?

 

I want to tell you that my mom has been reading me a long, meandering and relevant bedtime story… Yep, for almost a month now.  Teeth brushed, I nestle into darkness and covers, call her, and she commences to crack open a thick, heavy, hard-bound book called “Saints Who Moved The World” and reads a few dense pages of the life of my favorite saint, Saint Theresa.  Her soothing, melodic voice is the most familiar thing in the world to me.  And I’m not being figurative just for sweet poeticism’s sake.  I mean think about it, that is the voice that sang to me as the cells of my body ecstatically divided, and divided and divided and became and became and became a cohesive body who has slogged across the frontiers of time and space, evolving as this current rendition of glorious human mash who is gracefully banging alphabet into subjective meaning for your psycho-spiritual edification RIGHT NOW.

 

I love her voice.  It fills me with such peace and comfort that many nights, as she reads, I accidentally drift into slumber as it sings spiritually substantial content into my voracious, truth-seeking mind.

 

In last night’s installment, Theresa, at age 43, finally left her earthy body vacant and motionless, and made a voyage straight into the epicenter of God’s eternal presence.  For those weighty instants, her human form was but a soft whisper from a far away and meaningless dream, as she encountered this potent Presence.  (This pivotal experience of the hallowed saint was portrayed by the author through the worlds most EPIC run-on sentence, for which my linguistically adept mother had very little tolerance.  She re-read it a few times… and with each expulsion, it became increasingly ridiculous, until we were both gone in splashy puddles of laughter.  I wish I could remember it.  In fact, I’d love to memorize it, like a poem.  And spontaneously recite it once and a while just for the slosh and giggle of it… Do you dare me?!  Wink…)

 

So there’s Theresa, naked and bathing in the ecstatic rays of Our Father Which Art In Heaven… and my mom’s like, “how does the author know so explicitly what it was like for Theresa to meet ‘The Lord’?” I was quick to respond, because I’d already been mulling a similar query.  What I came up with was that I really didn’t care how the author knew, or if it was totally accurate.  To me, her story might as well be a great myth.  This story, as all great mythologies, serves to illuminate aspects, archetypes, and unearthed longings of my own Inner Life.  I don’t know that it is even a pertinent endeavor to distill “fact” from “fiction” as we swim along in the riveting currents of daily existence.  What is real, anyway?  Mostly, it’s all a montage of belief and perception and projection, avoidance and hope, shrouding a Presence of unwavering, eternal Isness that we’ve come to define as Love.  Given that the world as we know it is but a glorious and tragic holographic dream scape, who cares whether the histories to which we subscribe are “accurate” or not?!  To me, what is more pertinent and valuable, is whether the story serves to illuminate something within me that awakens Love; the beautiful connection I share with all life, always, now.

 

I discovered Saint Theresa when I was seventeen and traveling through Italy with my high school art class.  My teacher took us to a small church, off the beaten path, where the magnificently skillful stone carver, Bernini, had immortalized her in a hunk of marble, so smooth and lifelike, I honestly felt like I met her that day in Rome, in nineteen ninety seven.   An angel stands over her, piercing her heart with a divine arrow, and the delicate saint rests, broken open in a state of perpetual ecstasy… or “painful rapture”, as the little hand-out I received at the church read.  For the sixteen years since our first acquaintance, I have kept this woman of God’s image close to my heart, and framed on my altar as well.

 

Why?  Something about the experience of being broken open in a consuming Sacred Presence, so intense it defies definition as “pleasure” or “pain”, speaks to my depths.  Sometimes I wish it didn’t.  Ya know, like in those moments when I break open and bleed with pure, unadulterated ache.  When the experience of aliveness becomes so intense it feels barely tolerable.  Yet my paltry human feelings are probably child’s play at best, compared to the celestial spheres of heavenly rapture that swallowed Theresa into the center of her eternal Sacred Self.

 

There came a point on Theresa’s journey where she had to choose, God, or the world.  Now, I know all you tantrics are like, “God IS the world, silly!”… But listen, this is not about wagging flashy philosophies… or whipping out aggrandized religious riteousnesses.  No, this is more akin to Rumi’s field beyond right-doing and wrong-doing.  This is a parable of one who would settle for nothing less than DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF TRUTH (beyond finite, transitory form).  Come on y’all, it’s 2013 for goddess sake.  Let’s wrap religion in a burning flag and send it afloat down a river whose mouth opens to the Ocean with a capital O, and get on with it!  And to all you tantrics “out there” (myself included, naturally), I say YES, God absolutely IS the world… But that knowing is moot unless it is truly anchored into the deepest pulse of your being, such that your actions, thoughts and words are actually informed by direct and rarefied relationship to this realization.

 

What am I driving at here?  I see myself, tossed about in the frenetic waves of a meaningless world.  I seem to be so endlessly riveted and invested in hollow pursuits.  And I wonder for how much longer, will I insist on being shackled to this shiny pile of nothing… As for Saint Theresa, there comes a time on each of our journeys, when our number is up, and we are ready to give up every shred of investment in illusion, and offer ourselves entirely to that which always IS, that which we name, Love, God, Truth… yet which cannot truly be named.

 

Every morning I sit in meditation, and wait for Grace to show me this magnificent world.  Mostly half-heartedly.  Mostly still cherishing this shallow hallucination I call “me”, and only able to relinquish it for a single breath, if that .  But hey, I am doing the best that I can in each moment.  Will I have to suffer like Theresa, to be initiated into the spheres of rarefied self-realization?  Maybe… Maybe not…

 

Live,

A

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sumitra
    Mar 29, 2013 @ 04:41:33

    Although Teresa’s body with all its natural functions and all its organs and senses had remained here below while her soul was raised into heaven, she not only heard these words more distinctly than ever a bodily ear can hear what is said, she also saw and recognized more unmistakably than ever a bodily eye or physical perception are able to do, that it was the Lord himself who spoke to her.

    Yikes!

    Reply

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