File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 134

Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 03:25:15 -0500
Subject: An Epistle from a Pagan Monk

Greetings, my children:

Today I stand upon my sixty foot tower in the desert and watch.  That is
my current occupation.  Simply to stand and watch.  

I see the war-ships swiftly moving.  They are huge - like cities upon
the sea.  The normal course of nature has now been completely disrupted.
What was previously contained in separate realms has now transgressed
its former boundaries.  The elements become nomads and collide and
swerve as they journey forth in their twisted itineraries.  Destruction
has been loosed upon the earth

As our holy father Ovid put it so well:

"Neptune himself smites the earth with his trident.  She trembles, and
at the stroke flings open wide a way for the waters.  The rivers
overleap all bounds and flood the open plains.  And not alone orchards,
crops and herds, men and dwellings, but shrines as well and their sacred
contents do they sweep away.  If any house has stood firm, and has been
able to resist that huge misfortune undestroyed, still do the
overtopping waves cover its roof, and its towers lie hid beneath the
flood.  And now the sea and land have no distinction.  All is sea, and a
sea without a shore."

"Here one man seeks a hill-top in his flight; another sits in his curved
skiff, plying the oars where he has lately plowed; one sails over his
fields of grain or the roof of his buried farmhouse, and one takes fish
caught in the elm-tree's top...."

"The Nereids are amazed to see beneath the waters groves and cities and
the haunts of men.  The dolphins invade the woods, brushing against the
high branches, and shake the oak-trees as they knock against them in
their course. The wolf swims among the sheep, while tawny lions and
tigers are borne along by the waves. Neither does the power of his
lightning stroke avail the boar, nor his swift limbs the stag, since
both are alike swept away by the flood."

I have been reflecting on how to find my spiritual vortex in the
midst of all this grief - how to let my broken heart become a door that
opens into the world.  For in times like these the spirit must go forth
to travel upon the waters of the deep.

I have been thinking about Jesus lately.  Children, are you familiar
with all the jewelry, t-shirts, stationary, pens and other stuff that
has been marketed with the slogan WWJD?  

Personally, I always found this somewhat offensive, mere huckerism
exploiting religious feelings for a profit. An abomination to the Lord.
But now, in the context of what has ocurred, the phrase has taken on a
new meaning for me.  "What Would Jesus Do?" indeed!

Certainly, he would be a voice of peace, but beyond that it seems to me
he would find a way to love and suffer with all of those who are poor
and distraught within the world, he would touch them and share with them
a quiet and profound joy in the midst of all this tragedy. 

Jesus inspires me very much lately. I would like to be a Christian in
one sense only - a Christian as someone who follows in the footsteps of
love that Jesus has left behind and not someone who merely feels "saved"
because of some idle dogma. I would like to become an earthly vessel
made of clay into which ecstatic love has been poured that can empty
itself out again into the world.

These past few years have made me feel very distant from God. He has
seemed to me to be merely a empty concept and an outmoded one at that. 
The current phrase "God bless America" I have found personally offensive
because of the way it somehow implies that God favors only America, the
strong, the rich, the powerful and not the entire earth with its vast
multitudes of the poor and suffering.

As I think about Jesus I wonder, what if God is love (as the writings of
the beloved St. John have always triumphantly proclaimed) in the most
literal and fundamental sense? What is love is the power, the energy we
carry inside us like a great wind that can transform this situation and
ourselves, if only we would allow it a gate of passage through

The world is such a huge place and there is so much that needs to be
done right now.  What if all this money were used to feed the hungry
rather than just retaliate?  To do something more positive in the face
of all this tragedy. To do in short what Jesus might have done.

In the local scene in which I find myself, I must discover a way to
renew myself in order to transform the world - an impossible redemption
that starts at my own doorstep (the heart's door) to venture out into
the pathless world.

What can be done in the midst of this tragedy?  For me the answer right
now is meditate, Meditate, MEDITATE.  To find again the peace inside
myself that was so lately lost.

May the peace you carry inside you like the chalice of St. Stephen flow
out into the world again like a mighty flood.

Yours in Aphrodite,

St Simeon Stylites


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