This post is about the state of the world, and a song.
I’m the daughter of a singer. I used to sing rather well, I’m told, even earned money for doing so. I don’t sing much anymore. (It’s complicated.) But that’s not actually what I want to write about. I want to write about being struck dumb by Pandora’s ever-emptying box, and about how to express what’s basically inexpressible in any honest way.
That box, the one from which all the evils were set loose on the world, has been opened for a long, long time. I imagined it was emptied by now. Didn’t everything fly out on that fateful day in Other Time? I guess not. These days, vast amalgams of hatred are roaming the streets of cities–and the highways of the internet too.
Often the dark energy coalesces into human-esque forms, like the Dementors of Harry Potter fame–except these wear (distorted) human faces above tee-shirts or cammo. Unlike Dementors though, they seem to thrive on heat, often carrying torches or firearms, with searing howls rising from their throats. Their doppelgangers, the yin to their yang, thrive on ice and strings of words that, on close inspection, do not form actual thoughts.
Both types chill.
I started this blog to write about, well, anything I damn pleased. As it’s turned out, that has usually been about reading cards. To my surprise, I have developed a modest following that apparently feels I say something interesting from time to time. I’m really grateful for you all and I hope my posts have served you in some way.
But lately, though the cards remain just as beautiful, rich, and mysterious as ever, I find I haven’t the heart for unraveling their lovely secrets. So I haven’t been posting as much. It’s just seemed a bit well, fluffy to go on about the riotous colors and enigmatic scenes of that lovely palm-sized world. A year ago I wrote a post about using cards to address the plethora of pain swirling around my quite serene, safe life. It’s still a good read and you might even find some helpful ideas about “right action,” as the Buddhists say. Still, it strikes me that things are grimmer this year, even though I tried to follow many of those suggestions myself.
As any aspiring Bodhisattva knows, it’s possible to be detached and passionate, clear-sighted and heart-wounded. To take action without calculating cost/benefit ratios or who is “deserving.” To grieve dry-eyed for the world even if–especially if–the age of Kali Yuga (or its Western counterpart, The End Time) is here. These days I think a lot about, not what I should do, but what I feel compelled to do, me with my small spoon scraping at the Rock of Gibraltar. We’re in the same boat. Whether you throw your body in front of a bullet, or help a kid do math–well, you can figure out what spoon was given you. Then please just go start scraping.
[Personally, I’m attracted to a kind of healing activism. A beautiful black man with a large collection of Ku Klux Klan robes, all from people he simply befriended until they found they didn’t want to wear them anymore. The organization Life After Hate that helps former neo-Nazis figure out how to proceed, once they decide to leave. But that’s just me–find a spoon that fits you for the long term.]
Back to the singing. After years of silence, one evening a song unexpectedly bubbled to the surface. I guess I must have stopped believing that music heals, or that it’s vital or can speak when nothing else can, because I wondered how that bubbling up even happened. I found myself singing an old Irish hymn from Kilmore, called Jerusalem, Our Happy Home, or simply Song of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, our happy home
When shall we come to thee?
When shall our sorrows have an end?
Thy joys when shall we see?
It’s a song of longing. Ironically, the Irish and the English, conquered and conquerors, each had an old hymn called Jerusalem. (The English one, set to William Blake’s poem, figures in the film Chariots of Fire.) And of course rights to the physical Jerusalem have been hotly contested for generations. Everybody yearns. Maybe even in our politicized, social media-ized time we can understand “Jerusalem” to be a name for that nameless place we sense is calling us, no matter what our beliefs or lineage.
Home. Call it Jerusalem, or Eden, or Xanadu, or The Formless Void. We’re longing for it, especially when we don’t feel at home in the world. The home beyond home. It’s the flame behind glass we moths beat our wings furiously to enter, always a bit out of reach.
Once I started, I just wanted to sing this song of longing over and over. Though I wasn’t throwing myself in front of any bullets, it seemed important to keep singing. In the same way that many indigenous peoples understand their song is essential to keep the world alive, I felt engaged in healing, necessary work. I still can’t find words for what I feel about the latest manifestations of hell-on-earth, but the song sang my feelings for me. Did it do more than that, for something larger than little me? I don’t know. But when Pandora closed the box at last, Hope remained inside. Why didn’t it fly away too? Now that we seem to have turned the box over to shake out the last dregs, did Hope tumble out as well?
I wound up recording the song, rusty aging voice notwithstanding. You might like to hear it here.
Maybe it will do nothing for you, or maybe it will shatter you–or something in between. No matter. We all of us want to go home.
Let’s go together.