Detachment: finding my way to God by not finding {a reflection on T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday"}

I'm in a strange place. Which is to say, I'm in a place I've never been before, a place I do not recognize. If I could name it, I would, perhaps, call it: acceptance. A non-judgmental acquiescence to what is. I'm refraining from the tedious striving, the trying to understand why I'm here.

Because I do not hope to turn again Because I do not hope Because I do not hope to turn Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope I no longer strive toward such things

This is a new experience for me. It is the place of abandoned premises. The one premise I lived under for most of my life was what kept me going to church: I have a problem that needs fixing.

I don't necessarily disagree with the first part of that statement: I do have problems. But I guess I've just begun to disagree that they need fixing or, even more specifically, that the modern church construct has "The Remedy."

Because I do not hope to know The infirm glory of the positive hour Because I do not think Because I know I shall not know The one veritable transitory power Because I cannot drink There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again.

I have returned time and again to the cistern of promise only to drink and find nothing again. Right now, it is far better--far more honest!--for me to acknowledge and accept that this is where I've arrived. There's a measure of peace in this, though. It's a relief to know I shall not know. And even better, to know that anyone who dares to presume they know God's will for me, God's relationship with me--really does NOT know. No more, at least, than I do.

This is a leveling of the playing field, I think. A balancing of inequalities. My gender, my mind, my emotions are not strings upon which they can play anymore. What I desire, above all, is Silence. In that silence, I find--without finding--God.

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly But merely vans to beat the air The air which is now thoroughly small and dry Smaller and dryer than the will Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

For me, it is far better to sit still, to sit in the great, immeasurable, immutable Silence that is God. I'm no poster-child for faith. I no longer have aspirations to do "great things for God." I care and yet I don't care. I've stopped this silly charade of nylons and dresses and a string of pearls before church, prepping myself for the eyes of other silly marionettes--all of us dancing haphazardly on our manipulated strings.

All I can breathe, all I can stutter out at the end of this Silence are ancient words.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

[This reflection on "Ash Wednesday" by T.S. Eliot written in honor of its reading by Karsten Piper at  A Poetry Feed. "Ash Wednesday" is one of my all-time favorite poems. Head over to Karsten's site to hear him read it today]