Saturday, June 14, 2008

baba ganoush

Raisa is the archetypal mulier fortis of the vulgate septuagint.

She is a force of nature. She is Gaia. Mother Earth with an apron and an Oster Salon Pro.

I stumbled onto her unisex salon... no, no, I was led there by fate and destiny and the Oracle, one cold February Wednesday.

As she beckoned me with the curl of her sibyllic finger, I was captivated by an aroma uncommon to barber shops. Not oil, not sprays or gels or dyes. Something spicy and Mediterranean. Something the matriarchs of yesterfar would simmer and stir in terracotta pottery while dreaming of seeing their menfolk return from battle. An odor that took sole possession of the olfactory epithelium, the medulla oblongata and the loins.

A sculptor peers at a block of marble and sees Laocoon. Raisa appraises even the least promising of scalps and envisions art. She hovers over me, impatiently taps my temples to one side or the other, snorts and hyperventilates, changes clipper heads with a vengeance and in an apocalyptic flurry whips out her flat blade and slashes my neck hairs into submission.

The last time I saw Raisa she said, “Next time we try all hair, one length. Look good on head like you.”

A Greek goddess? An Armenian wonder wench? A Transylvanian she-revenant? I could only guess. But that smell...

Last Friday I went to the festival at St. George Cathedral. An ecumenical gesture and a much needed break from the rectory. As I wandered the grounds, it slowly subverted my senses... the unmistakable perfume wafting up from the depths of the fairgrounds.

Raisa! Or her progeny? I followed my nose to the food booths off to the left of the parking lot.

This is the cradle of life!”, I told the ruddy faced woman behind the hot plate. “This is the primal puddle from which Gaia herself has sprung!”, I cried.

“No. This baba ganoush. Good for you. Eat.”

As I dipped my pita flatbread in the steaming melitzano salata and pondered the oneness of all aromas, a light breeze stirred the branches of the poplar trees behind me.

All is one”, the zephyr whispered, “search no more.”


Friday, June 13, 2008

know thyself

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am fully known.” (1Cor 13: 11-12)

Only the final Light will reveal us for all that we truly are. If an adult achieves only shadowy, blurry knowledge of self – as Paul admits – what introspection, what self-criticism could a child have?

In these many months since the whole LC ball of yarn began unraveling, I have engaged in a peculiar form of self torture: I try to imagine what i capi talk about behind closed doors. Especially now, without Fr. Maciel’s all defining presence setting the agenda...

Is it all just damage control? Is it business as usual, keep the rank-and-file marching to the same beat and act like nothing has happened? Is it calling in favors to stop the bleeding? Is it putting the spin machine on overdrive to keep the bubble from bursting from within? Is it denial and hope that the storm blows over?

Or is it an openness to grace, a sincere reckoning, a fearless self-questioning, an honest and transparent desire to seek and embrace the truth of who we are and what the Church needs us to be?

Archbishop O’Brien’s demanding letter and his painfully candid interview will either be dealt with begrudgingly, as another splinter of persecution from our already heavy cross, or it will be embraced and reflected upon as a call to conscience for the LC, like the others that have been issued over the past three years.

Baltimore’s Archbishop sounds ticked-off and skeptical. He fears that the LC’s institutional lack of transparency may be beyond cure. He makes it clear that only a few timely phone calls from the Curia staved off a much harsher reaction, à la Columbus, OH or St.Paul-Minneapolis.

Still, the Exorcist remains hopeful.

When I was a child, I reacted like a child... as a man I leave childish things behind.

Maybe these are the LC’s growing pains. Maybe upon denial comes acceptance and self-analysis. Maybe the LC can yet learn to trust its own and not fear transparency and change. Maybe the best is yet to come...