Korea

I was not born when the war began.

My parents were not born when the war began.

My grandparents were teenagers too young to fight.

It took 65 long years before the stalemate got so stale that both sides fatigued of being at each other’s throats and shook hands in no man’s land.

Will it last though? Will everyone keep their end of the bargain? Will one side or the other prove unreasonable? Will the process get bogged down in details?

We can’t know. It’s been too damn long. Even if there’s a peace treaty, the healing is only beginning.

But my heart and the hearts of many go out to the Korean people today with the very best of hopes. After coming right to the brink of unthinkable bloodshed, can these two countries separated by time and conflict find some hope of a new day?

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Doubt

I have seen the thumbprint of God on the fabric of time and in the subtle, sublime way the divine meme has worked in my life.

Why, then, do I still find it easier to doubt?

Not many people who struggle with doubt have the benefit of some degree of theophany. I suppose doubt is part of our culture though. It was the most jarring thing I noticed in my memories of medieval times: to us in the present, doubt in God is the default position; but in those memories the existence and presence of God was seen as a given. But that culturally-bound doubt is natural given the fact that we were taught so long to love a God of the Gaps rather than a God of the Ineffable. And as the gaps in our understanding shrank, the ineffable could be easily handwaved though it never goes away no matter how much we try.

But I think it’s more than culture. Just having the experience of seeing the mark of something tremendous moving and influencing the stream of time puts me outside the prevailing culture somewhat. It might be easier to handwave this if I’d been diagnosed schizophrenic or bipolar but there’s no such easy out for me; what I experienced was something rare and special and my doctors agree, they don’t have a ready answer. It is what it is. Still, my doubt persists.

I think maybe there is some degree of doubt in our nature and even to witness a miracle or the clear traces of God is never enough. Certainly, doubt existed before us! Doubt existed before Rome, before Babylon even. I realize that now; the miracles I’ve seen may have encouraged me to seek, but they didn’t fix any sort of unwavering belief in me either. That is something I need to examine and pray about.

You can see spirits, reveal the shape of time, and see the shadow of God moving below the waters of our existence, but you cannot trust that alone to dispel doubt. That’s a harsh lesson but one I must share.

Flash

I just had a strange flash which, while it may not be past life related, I feel I should record here because it involves an era Phil lived in and wrote about.

I was reading about the F-82 Twin Mustang and saw that it had once been an escort for the B-36 Peacemaker (can you find a more cynically named strategic bomber?). I knew of the B-36 and had seen one before (at least, I’d seen film or pictures of one). But for some reason the picture of the B-36 sent me back full-force to the zeitgeist of the early Atomic Age. That weird mix of optimism that we were invincible, yet dawning terror when the true cost of an atomic war became ever clearer.

I’ve wanted to write a straight historical fiction about cold war aviation and a person living in the illusion of peace time while being faced with the stark absurdity of war for a while. I don’t know though; my last attempt died after three paragraphs.

Revision

I’ve been spending time revising my latest novel yet again, since I have time.

Words can’t describe how pleased I am to see my own voice emerging strongly. It draws heavily on my past life experiences but there’s not much of Phil about it at all, except maybe in some of the themes (it has a Sethian overtone in places).

On the other hand, Jack emerges strongly in a lot of ways. It’s clear that his memories, thoughts, and experiences are fresher and more clearly defined in my memory and as a result, I feel an emotional closeness to him that I don’t to these other lives I may have recalled. I can always entertain a healthy doubt that I was Phil, or Count William, but Jack’s life, if I were to be plainly honest, feels as real as anything that’s happened to me in this life.

I don’t know if Jack ever wrote anything. I have no memory of that. I assume, based on the norms of his time, he was at least literate and could read and write, but that doesn’t mean much. I keep holding out hope that some relative of his has a notebook full of poems, short stories, and philosophical musings but I shouldn’t hope too much.

At the same time, there’s an old English schoolboy elegance that comes out from time to time in my writing. Capturing and nurturing that without getting too mired in dated mannerisms has become my goal.

My last novel got praise for being conceptually good; this time I want praise for elegant and polished prose that lives and breathes and engages the reader like an old-fashioned raconteur.

Not Okay

I’m not okay.

WW3 didn’t happen (Emmanuel Macron may have had something to do with turning it from WW3 to another smorgasbord for the war profiteers), but I’m not okay.

I didn’t have to flee the Portland area with whatever I could throw into my car, but I’m not okay.

That old angst is back. And now that I take a moment to really search myself past the dissociating I’ve had to do just to appear normal, I’m stuck again with so many emotions from long ago.

Maybe I did go to hell in 1915. This world, this timeline, isn’t right. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, with people ready to scurry for cover because the so-called leaders now have the power to kill us all in one careless instant. And yeah, it was like that in Phil’s day too. TWO LIFETIMES I’ve lived with this shadow over me.

If I could undo the last 104 years I would. If I could go back to that life knowing what I know now I would. I know it’s silly but part of me wonders, if I’d put my effort behind resisting the war rather than joining it, would that have been the one variable that changed the outcome of everything?

Too late to wonder or know, I suppose. I’m very tempted to publish the memoir of how I recalled these lives and donate the proceeds to some anti-war cause though.

Is This It?

The last thing I wanted was to die in another war, especially one I never wanted any part in.

But now there is a distinct chance the US has just started a war with Russia in Syria. My husband and I have been getting our things together to get out of town on short notice if needed.

I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t support bombing Syria. But I couldn’t stop it either. But if this escalates into nuclear war, what good will it do to die with a clean conscience? It’s still death.

Returned

I’m back from Holy Week. My knees ache and my back is a mess from so much kneeling and genuflecting but you know what? I don’t mind. These aches and pains just remind me that I’ve mortified the body to glorify what is incorruptible and I find a joy in that thought I never knew possible.

On Palm Sunday I was made a cleric. I now wear a white surplice with my cassock. In time the vestments will add up: the collar, the chausible, then perhaps one day if I am ever made a bishop (if I live that long) I will wear the mantle and mitre too.

I’ve returned somewhat to social media, though my presence on Facebook and Twitter will be a bit more limited from now on. For most of my readers this won’t be a problem but for the 1 or 2 of you who follow me on one or both sites don’t fret; I’ll still be around in some fashion for a while.

Still, I feel like I’m becoming steadily more ascetic. During my time away I spent a good bit of time studying, praying, serving in the mass, and generally living in a quasi-monastic way that felt strangely satisfying. I used far less cannabis (I still find it useful to treat my sleep paralysis but I was actually enjoying being sober for once), I tried not to worry myself with more grim updates from the news or anything like that, and I tried to put more effort into contemplation and focus than I normally do.

Also… I don’t know quite how to explain my reasons for thinking so without delving into details about my published work, but I now suspect I may have lived as a monk or canon in or near Wigmore Abbey at some point. This accords strangely well to details of a book I published a few years ago though I’ve yet to have any kind of hard confirmation, only a series of circumstances that adds up rather well.

At any rate, in our sacraments (the liturgy for which is adapted from a pre-Vatican II Catholic mass), I find deep comfort and familiarity, a sense of something profoundly right, a part of myself restored. When I walked away from the church thinking I was wasting my time I found the loss of this was like having cut off a part of myself and though I tried to embrace radical politics in its place, I never really felt the same certainty or rightness there. It always felt like the narcissism of small differences was closer at hand among the anarchists and socialists I kept company with. And while I’m still fairly left-wing politically (I suppose nominally I’m a mutualist), I’m not impressed with the way ego has subverted the discourse.

But “from each according to their means to each according to their needs” is in no way contradictory to an authentic Christian life; indeed if one considers Acts 2:44-46 and Mark 10:21-25, it should be imperative for Christians to live that way. But we don’t need the state looming over us to force that upon us; we should do it of our own free will or not at all. I will live these ideals with or without the political labels and bickering and infighting and everyone accusing each other of being a fed that I saw on the organized left. I don’t care about trying to save politics any more because I’m more concerned with living the best life I know how.