Radical hope

Reckless. Temperamental. Over-analytical.
Opportunistic. Fluid. Critical.

Gotta love them words, eh.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

The most important lecture I hold fast to in my God & Theological Reflection course from Fall 2016 is the preliminaries to radical hope. As the professor sketched 2 Machabees 7, she told us something that remains with me today.

“Where do we see creatio ex nihilo in the human being? It is here, in radical hope.”

Stubbornness. Endurance. Tenacity.

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

I want to chuckle, but I’ll pick a small smile. I was told that when my world crumbled around me, there would I find God. What a sweeping sense of dramatic irony. I could perceive it in the lights of faculty and staff when I went to my advisor with a request that mercifully, we acknowledged as profound and an act of reclamation.

I chose to petition for transference into MA Theology: Public Faith & Spirituality.

The program director for my current degree (MA Theology: Spiritual Care & Psychotherapy) spoke of gifts and talents I bore, but was not using as effectively as I could. I felt pressured by Laurier’s academic supporters to change my trajectory, despite my high grades and achievements amidst adversities. To overcome my inertia with acceleration. Only this could change the velocity my life took on.

But here’s the catch. As much as external forces can act upon the object in state of inertia, acceleration requires a shift that’s internal. A passenger in a car, taking an on-ramp for an expressway, knows this intimately. Centrifugal force isn’t an actual force. That passenger is dealing with acceleration (change in velocity: Speed + direction). Their body is hardly at rest. Yet inertia is tough, hence why work is required. And it’s not exactly pleasant. In the words of my senior high school physics teacher: “Everything is lazy.”

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Ah yes, the strange spelling for Maccabees. It’s from the Douay-Rheims (Challoner) version of the Bible. Whaddya know, I bit the bullet and got one. Well, two actually. The other is a parallel Douay-Rheims-Challoner (let’s use DRC until I find the legit acronym. I began this post in the fifth hour ante meridiem. Bite your own bullet) that’s alongside the Clementina Vulgata.

Alucard let me know Riku was in town. I rushed to contact her. I had to know. I had to know what transpired, what kind of Mortal Kombat shit went down in that episode of “Attack Andrei, Take Kari.” I’m serious. Mage life can be melodramatic sometimes. More so when you unveil even just a little to the overly thirsty.

More than that, I missed Riku. Alucard introduced us, and I loved her right away. I couldn’t believe the insults I heard from my comrade about her. Maybe it was my extensive history mixing and mingling with a myriad of folks, but I was deeply offended for Riku. It’d been months since our last genuine contact.

My forgiveness in its truest sense is difficult to obtain. You don’t earn it. You have to win it. You could dismiss this as my Solar Taurean. Or, you could look at me as a person whose easy trust is quick to encounter betrayal. Take your pick, or find another way. It’s fate and destiny. Come, let’s play.

I knew Riku was contrite, that was obvious enough in her texts. But I wasn’t prepared for the raw Riku who pursued me to the Lighthouse. There she was. That same wonderful, lovely sister soul seeking friendship an age ago. One who saw me as equal and equivalent, who defended her cherished ones with what breaths she would draw. One who viewed Andrei not as an indomitable enemy to conquer, but a distant ally she sought with respect for all parties involved – most notably including herself.

It’s hard to spurn a friend overflowing with compassion, contrition, and emboldened rage for the damage done to herself. Here was a mage willing to own her shit, to confront me as she consoled me, and give Andrei space and time to reconcile with his sense of betrayal by her actions.

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

I did my best not to weep as she spoke with me. I placed limits on my expression of empathy due to previous experience, but this was tough to witness without joining the moment.

I can picture that knowing, silly smile on Alucard’s face right now.

Riku was curious as to what brought me to the Lighthouse. I said I was hunting a treasure of historic, linguistic, social, religious, archetypal, epic, and spiritual legacies. “I discovered that the DRC was published as a parallel translation with the Clementina Vulgata. I was hoping to find it here or have it ordered in. I’d rather not pay shipping with customs duties + taxes to import it from America.”

She smiled. “It’s been a while since I was last here, at the Lighthouse.” That had me double back in my process. Riku? Christian? “Let’s look at things!”

Insert the mutual “squee” between us, throughout my retelling; as you like it.

Quickly, she learned in brief of my tumultuous fellowship with recent, former, and current Christians. Worse was the provocative narratives of so-called “Western religion” being the worst thoughtform to emerge in human history. The Middle East equated with the West only when speaking of Christianity screams ignorance to me. Oh, and can people halt shitting on the West long enough to critically consider the East and all the lovelies in between? Yeah. Talk to you later.

Most important to her was my reluctance to admit alignment with pre-classical Catholicism. (I chose “pre-classical” to describe the time before a specific socio-historical thing that evades labelling this bloody early in my morning, credit goes to Andrei for finding such an eloquent term.) She tugged me over to the part of the Lighthouse dedicated to Catholics. Amused by her enthusiasm and for the sake of my curiosity, I gave her the names of our patron saints. Mine is Catherine of Siena, Andrei’s is Christopher (granted, Andrew could be included. Oy, why you gotta have two?). Riku outlined St Christopher’s story, and I laughed at how relevant the legend was. She spoke a little of St Catherine of Siena, and rummaged through the Lighthouse’s inventory hoping to find a token from her for me. Finding none, she suggested that when I ordered Shiny Book (DRC-CV, again using my own acronyms until I can verify), get more things. She assisted me in choosing a rosary that, my goodness, is comfortable and comforting in my pained hands.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oy, spellchecker. Hillsong UNITED is American-based, I believe. I’m not changing their lyrics to suit your demands. :P

I was glad for our reunion, though it disturbed my placid waters. I wanted Shiny Book for its sheer weight upon history. It was a treasure, that’s all. So why was I feeling that familiar ache again? The one that would drive my clan bananas, the kinds we’d get in Trinidad & Tobago. Hint: Plantains, more likely. Those have a wider experimental culinary range.

I was reluctant to reflect on Evelyn and Bill. Father/Brother Vit. Windy. Sister Mary Catherine who shared Italy’s patroness with me. I knew where that thought trail would lead.

Mother.
Anton’s family.
Reiya.

A subletting roomie and I had a conversation that was the last snap on my catapult’s rope. That same day, Shiny Book arrived in the mail from Joseph’s Inspirational. Andrei couldn’t resist diving into that heavy ass box he carried for us from the post office. It was good I thought to bring a cloth bag just for this package – no way was I lifting that thing to my third place of residence this year alone. He refers to moments like these as “Lessons with Bunny.” It’s rather pleasant. I encounter and am guided with his wisdom, and he does likewise with my knowledge. A psychodynamic running gag, possibly. Give me the scholar’s job, he’ll take the practitioner’s. A typical narrative device for the fantastical white mage/black mage dichotomy, really.

Roomie and me, our talk can be summarized as follows:
Roomie: What would your treasured ones want for you?
Me: I wouldn’t ask myself that.
Roomie: Maybe they want you to live.

I was still recovering from Andrei’s observation of how animated and passionate I was when walking him through the significance of the DRC-CV and his suggestion, which at that moment sounded like a pronouncement:

Hey, Kari? Maybe theology is for you. Think about it, engaging history this way.
Do you know how brightly you’re shining here, right now, before my eyes?

My mind went to Reiya after Andrei returned to his place, and I asked this roommate who would be moving out soon. Roomie later admitted to not remembering his own testimony, but my question prompted a similar in scope, painful experience for him so he said what came to his mind.

Maybe passing by me and Andrei exchanging exclamatory statements while opening that big ass package entertained him, I dunno. This idea has me grinning, so I’ll keep it for now.

I recalled my High Priestess’ words: “Trust your experience, not what was told.”

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine.

  1. Could I have changed what happened?
  2. Could I demand justice?

Roomie: What do you think she would want for you?
Andrei: Let go. Don’t be held down by it. It happened, it’s with you, it’ll probably stay with you, but it doesn’t have to be the now. It shouldn’t be the now, because back then isn’t now. What was isn’t what is now.

Roomie: Did you consider that maybe she would want you to let this go, and live? If nothing else, to live, because she loves you.
Andrei: You can draw upon it, look back on it, reminisce on it, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus of the here and now.

Roomie: Maybe time doesn’t heal your wounds fast enough, but the pain becomes easier to live with. You got your life. You got your someone. Maybe she wants you to live.
Andrei: Let go. The you now isn’t the you back then. Who you were then isn’t the you now.

Roomie: How does one heal from survivor’s guilt? Choose each day to live.
Andrei: Doesn’t have to happen all at once. Won’t expect it to. But slowly, surely, gradually, living. And doesn’t have to be a big, grandiose reason. Small steps, foot by foot, one in front of the other. Can be a single step. Time will heal all wounds. Won’t do it fast, but as the wound heals, it becomes easier to live with. A scar could remain, but that’s all it’ll be.

That’s why I’m happy to see butterflies. There was a story she’d read to me, one about a boy and a girl and butterflies. I like to think she sends me butterflies from where she is now. Like how the Aboriginal woman I met in respite said feathers were from my grandfathers.

Hey, Reiya? You did tell me, all those years ago when you babysat me, to remember you with butterflies!

Pre-classical Catholic mage. That’s what I was hiding for fear of clan and so-called friends + allies.

The resounding praise and joy from my institution, gone unnoticed by me in my bereavement, now made clear.

IMG_0232
#shadowtalk with modified lyrics from Céline Dion’s “Prayer.” Sketch by me.

I am who I am. While my future is uncertain, I can look at this present eagerly, without fearing the depths of myself so much. Because walking on eggshells to keep everyone else safe isn’t living. Because the devotion for my naysayers should be placed towards myself, my loved ones who love me as well.

My commitment to my magic is stronger than ever; so is my relationship to myself, my mate, and my conviction that this world, too, is beautiful. It is. And so is life and death.

Hope and despair. Together. One and the same.

My lost godparents; you brought me before God’s wonders.
My spiritual director; you knew the convent wasn’t for me.
Woman who birthed me; you feel lost wherever you wandered.
Family of a caged one; you taught me that fear is real.
Favoured friend; you showed me loyalty unto premature death.

Soul sister; you took your magecraft and love of God, made these your own.
Cousin not my blood; you found peace in lay Catholicism most enduring.

Friend in magecraft; sharing in a mutual story.
Roommate; lending strength to that vulnerable moment.
Mate; steadfast, watery and wavy as the sea, allowing the waves to take you and guide you, and choosing to open your inner world to me.

Raven; you stayed as Dove fled.

An olive leaf meant dry land, the rainbow meant radical hope.

After the Flood, the grand performance heralded the new morn.

Creatio ex nihilo.


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