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Pay fierce attention to the holy of everything

  • 29 May 2017


Yet again once again I am in a classroom of seething bubbling grinning headlong small children, and as usual they are sizzling my mind and heart with their open honest genuine unadorned naked cheerful silly goofy piercing brilliance, and after I explain some things they really want to know, like why my nose is all bent and bumpy (answer: angry elbows on basketball courts, and immense brothers), we get to talking about miracles and God and gods and how words like God are all webbed and hoary with history and meaning and opinion and blood, and are there other words for the things that we are hinting at when we say words like god and miracle and reverence?

And off we go, to the teacher's astonishment (she is sitting politely in the corner with a look I know all too well, a mix of Is this a good idea? and Lordy, they sure seem into it), talking about how all living things have the spark of holy somehow, even hornets, and how maybe the spark gets blown out somehow, like in terrorists, and how maybe just paying fierce attention is the most eloquent way to pray, and how there are so many things for which we don't have words that mean much, words that do anything more than affix a small label to the incomprehensibly vast and crucial, that we easily forget that the things are quite real, and not merely ideas. Like love, for example, I say. You need love like food, like water, and if you don't get it and give it you'll wither and get smaller and meaner and brittle and eventually your skin becomes a prison in which you live alone, wailing.


"Isn't that why human beings were given the extraordinary gifts of imagination and humour, to try to put lies and blood out of business after millions of years? Could we find new stories that make the old ones skitter away wailing into the dark, never to return?"


We talk about how religions are useful at their best but murderous corporations at their worst, and how religions are probably best thought of as clans and tribes and guilds and languages and vocabularies and compasses and houses in which you know the layout so well you could walk around barefoot in the dark and not stumble once. We talk about how there are all sorts of illuminated beings in every sort