Training For A Different Position

It’s times like this I’m sad that our church is too small to pay its clergy; I would much rather do this for a living. On the other hand, it weeds out the gold diggers. You’re left with a few very passionate people.

I went in for training in serving during the Eucharist. Anyone familiar with a Catholic mass would probably recognize most of the elements involved (though we differ sharply in our interpretation of the rite’s significance and incorporate elements of the Eastern church as well).

I find I’m picking it up quickly and really enjoying the work far more than my day job.

It’s a strange sort of situation though. I never thought it’d be me doing this, let alone getting as into it as I am. I guess having that contemplative moment and a space where I can really embrace a part of myself that I denied for so long has helped me center a bit more, which is a welcome change.

But it’s more than that. You come out of it feeling that it’s more than the sum of its parts. Maybe that’s the emergent Ruah at the heart of the Mystery, or just an experience of ecstatic liminality tickling some lobe of the brain… but who’s to say they aren’t essentially the same thing? Who’s to say that rather than a ghost in a machine, we aren’t really a ghost through a machine, an essentially mechanical conduit through which a tiny sliver of the Divine manifests in some beautiful, elegant uplink, like connecting from a terminal to the cloud?

I find I’m less bothered by such questions with each passing day though. I love it because it’s a thing of beauty, especially the uncanny bits that aren’t simply knowing when to kneel and when to get this cruet or that censer.

By the way, a question for my readers: who would like me to spin off these posts into a separate blog chronicling my journey into the priesthood?

 

Ever Closer

As of today, I am formally recognized as a lay server in a Gnostic church. This is the entry level of minor orders and the first step on the path to priesthood.

This has been a really fascinating journey so far, and yet it’s only just beginning.  I still have many years of service before I can enter the higher orders of the church.

After I had taken communion, I had a vision of millions of candles all lit around the world; they weren’t lit for me, but for the Church Universal, which is greater than any building, denomination, even greater than Christendom.  They were the candles of every thoughtful, joyful, hopeful, and compassionate soul that was praying to something higher than its own ego.

It’s funny; for most of my life I never really felt the need to be part of something bigger than myself. But the deep and personal understanding that I already am, and have been since long before the day my thread of consciousness first differentiated itself from the Pleroma, really puts everything in a new light.

I still get upset, impatient, irritable, angry, and all these things that come with ego; but that ego seems to be less in conflict with the bigger picture, and I find that life has become objectively easier since I started paying attention to how pointless it was to be itching for a fight all the time.

And deep below it all, running like a river of light, there’s a thread of timelessness that I feel in every act, every swing of the censer, every hymn that is not laced with glibness and legalism, to the dawn-land where ancient myrtles grow in the place of cold stone war memorials.  I have seen that land beyond sight once in my present life, in a dream I have spoken of often, and now it no longer feels so painfully far away.

In me now, the myrtle grows.

On The Brexit

Work has been occupying most of my time.

On Brexit, I have three things to say:

1. The EU, as an organization that favors elite interests, is deeply problematic but this was gone about the wrong way and for the wrong reasons.  My concern now is that unrealistic expectations will meet harsh reality, and the immigrants and their families who are naturalized British citizens and their sons and daughters will become the victims of pogroms if the British economy fails to recover as expected.  After all, nativist movements never stop at closing borders.

2. I sincerely hope the worst predictions about the outcome of this decision aren’t true, because if they are and the Vote Leave campaign knew the risks but lied about them, they really ought to be brought up on charges of fraud or even treason.

3. I feel a deep sense of hurt and concern for how the British people will fare after this decision.  The pro-Brexit crowd’s bleating of the “new beginning” sound byte is not the least bit reassuring.

This does not affect my plans to travel back to the land where I spent numerous past lives and an unforgettable year and a half when I never once felt I was anything less than at home.  I do worry what I will find.

Verdict, Day 1

I don’t like this job, and I’m in physical and emotional pain after my first day.

I’m still going to try to keep my best foot forward and make the most of a new beginning. Part of that includes assessing my own attitudes toward employment and reminding myself that I do have a lot of say in how well or poorly this goes.

Anyway, I’ve suffered enough in recent years that I have some frame of reference for awfulness. As the experiences of the last half decade go, this job is not the worst. It’s not quite as bad as, say, sitting in the ER with a blocked bladder, scared and in enough pain to cause vomiting. The job seems easy enough to keep; mostly it’s just a matter of not being extremely inept or deliberately bad. In fact they seem pretty lenient on most things.

Still, I have to say this isn’t what I want to be doing by the end of the summer. That’s an absolute given.

Once Again, Still Fighting

It occurred to me part of the reason I’ve been so vexed despite finally finding work, getting better off financially than I’ve been in years, and generally crawling back to what could be termed “stable poverty” after so much near-destitution.

I’m still fighting against things I can’t fix. I don’t know how long it’s been but I’ve been fighting for so long. That’s why my death in 1915 was so hard, and why I’m always so anxious no matter what happens. I’m always resisting inwardly, always asking if there’s another way when I’ve got a good thing going, always struggling with nothing to gain, and whenever there’s an effort- however futile- to move forward or make some change, I’ll dive right in because the thing I fear the most is helplessness. When I died in 1915, there was nothing I could do, but that didn’t sink in. When I found I could sort of poke into material reality and keep an ever-so-tenuous grasp on this phenomenal world, I did just that. I held on with all my might. I fought and struggled because fighting and struggling was all I could to to keep from facing the fact that there was nothing left to do and Dear Old Jack, who was always afraid that life would pass him by, was finished.

So here I am with an easy path laid before me, and I’m frustrated. I want something to fight for, something to struggle for, and in lieu of that I keep expecting a disaster that might never come. I’ve been told that I’ve scared off my roommate’s friends because they thought I had the makings of a paranoid prepper and although I’m not knuckling down for an epic fight with the government, I do kind of like the idea of provisioning and being ready for the worst that can happen because it gives me something to do. Give me a trench to dig and I’ll have ad-hoc relief for a while, feeling like I’m doing something for the artillery barrage I’m expecting any minute. Fighting and digging and doing some small thing was never the worst part of the war; it was always the lull in between, the long stretches of tense quiet. It didn’t matter if those efforts came to nothing; it became a habit to struggle as much and as often as possible.

So here’s my reality: I have a stable membership with a good church, I have a job starting soon which while in no way cushy will at least provide adequately for my needs, I have a fiance whom I may soon have the money to marry, and I have enough money to go out and enjoy some of the lively cultural scene in Portland I’ve been missing out on.

But waiting for things to come to bear? Waiting to get my schedule in hand? It’s too much to deal with. And I know better than to say “things will be better once I have some certainty” because they never are. I’ll keep finding things to be uncertain about and worry about and keep looking for futile ways to feel like I’m putting up a good fight against dangers, real or imagined.

I can’t help but think, this is exactly what Christ and Buddha were warning us about. This is what binds souls to the cycle of reincarnation. This is what keeps us from becoming whole, enlightened beings. We cling to things we scarcely understand and fight against things that aren’t really there. And we do it so naturally! We have this diabolical wiring that keeps us from being happy unless we’ve always got something to strive for.  It’s the Archonic impulse, the one that always has to have its hands busy building something, literally or figuratively. The Light Yoke isn’t easy because we are, at our basest, driven to strive for things that can never be.

And so I must return to meditation, return to a mindfulness of what my true motivations really are and how I can let go of the misery I bring upon myself to no good end. Ultimately, we are both the savior and the saved; the salvator salvandus. This is the heart of Gnostic soteriology, that one must be saved from one’s lower nature by a divine spark that, aware of its true nature, may reconnect with the greater part of the godhead; it is religion in the purest sense, from the Latin religio, reconnection. But as with most flavors of soteriology, there is one caveat: it must be accepted willingly and graciously and we must live according to its precepts or we will go nowhere. The lower nature must be starved and the higher nature must be nourished. The salamander who purifies itself through the alchemical process of calcinatio is often represented with the motto nutrisco et extinguo.

And so I accept my failures, but I will not allow them to become me. It is not in fighting against an adversary but in nourishing a savior that one is saved from the need to always struggle.

Sweet sommer spring that breatheth life and growing,
In weedes as into hearbs and flowers,
And sees of service divers sorts in sowing,
Some haply seeming and some being yours,
Raine on your hearbs and flowers that truely serve,
And let your weeds lack dew and duely starve.

Holding It Together

As much as I’m dreading going back into the workforce, it isn’t the worst that can happen.

All things considered, I’m really wrong to base my worries on past experience because as rough as the last five years have been, they’ve taught me so much about life and so much about myself.  The last time I had a regular job, I was a different person who only had a vague idea of why I was so unhappy.

Coming to terms with past lives is only part of that.  I hadn’t had several years to reckon with my current life’s gender dysphoria and discover that I was capable of doing things socially as a woman that I had immense difficulty with as a man.  For all my wavering on gender, my overall confidence has grown immeasurably once I had real success transitioning; I credit that change with landing me the job in the first place.

Still, I can’t deny that I’m intimidated.  Twice bitten thrice shy, you might say.  I’m moving into terra incognita here, completely unsure of the future because I have no frame of reference.

It will be such a relief not to be constantly policing my every word and action, though.  And if my performance in my last few terms at Portland State is any indication, the sum of my experiences will make a world of difference.

Also, it will be very nice to have some money to enjoy my time off.  Arkansas wasn’t my favorite place, but at least I had some nice mountains to get lost in when life got me down and enough money to go for long drives in the Ozarks and Ouachitas; in Oregon, I’ve got mountains and coast that put any other place I’ve lived to shame.

But it won’t be enough to tell myself everything will work out; I’m too stubborn for that.  I’ll have to see for myself.

P-Zombie

Ever wonder if everything you’ve ever done was a mistake? If all the progress you thought you made was an illusion?

I would give anything to finally be rid of this constant rage, this constant feeling like my brain is crawling with ants, the swirl of thoughts so thick that I can scarcely home in on one, this complete inability to focus.

It’s tortured me all my life. Nothing has ever given me more than temporary relief, and most of the time I can’t even get the things that helped the most. Why can’t I just fix it?

I look at the stuff I was writing a few short months ago. It isn’t my work. This is the work of a brilliant person who can put one foot in front of the other. This is the work of someone who thought they had direction. This is the work of a higher consciousness speaking through me. It isn’t me.

I have a hard time feeling any sort of passion any more. I feel like I exist, but I don’t live. I’m a P-zombie living life from the back of a long dark corridor, watching the world on a grainy flickering screen as an observer. It’s been that way most of my life and I miss those short-lived days when I felt like I was really living my life. Even my connection to the church feels like it’s just going through the motions, like a part of me remembers but not the conscious part. There’s no tender feelings for anyone or anything there; I’m like a robot.

Also… This is very hard to admit… I’m still completely unsure about my gender. I don’t feel male, female, genderqueer, null, or anything else. I don’t feel anything but psychoemotional static and I hardly know which way is up, and the so-called professionals who are supposed to help me are so many king’s horses and king’s men.