Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

27 February 2010

. . T.e.x.t.u.r.e...&...T.e.x.t. . .

As one relatively new to blogging, I was thinking about my last entry, where it's true, I talk about the Bible and the book of Genesis the same way I might talk about Shakespeare, or Capek's The Makropulos Case.  Like literature, like fiction.  To talk about a sacred text that way may be troubling and even offensive to some people.  And yet it is so fundamental to Makropoulos, who is a textual being, a woman who unfurls herself in words.   So don't believe for a minute that I think that there is no such thing as a sacred text.  For me, these very words are sacred, because they are all I have. 
Some texts are far more sacred than others, and the Bible is one of those texts.  In some texts, you can feel and hear the breath of God, who almost begs to be known in the words and images He chooses.

Indeed, I would say that life itself is a text, and its texture is loaded with imagery.  The challenge to all of us is to recognize the signs that direct us on a safe way through our life, and to our most desired end.

In Islam, people believe in fate; the text of anyone's life is written on her/his forehead.  And the names of God are written in our hands.  With that belief, bodies are already preinscribed, and we slip them on at birth and perform a text already written through our lives.  The test of a good human being then becomes a matter of how well one accepts fate, and lives life.

A decade ago, I was living in a country that was predominantly Muslim.  I was living in Turkey.  Now, I've had some experience with Turks in the past; I was born in Thessoloniki, and during my childhood, it was under Ottoman rule.  When I was a child, the hatred and fear of the Turks was great, and sometimes they took full advantage of that.  But I was young; I don't remember so much.  My mind was occupied with love and music, and I left Thessoloniki with a man - my first lover.  I mention him in an earlier blog.  My personal memory of the Turks was vague, but it included my father's hatred of them, and a dark looming presence that seemed to linger over the mukhtarlik - the home of the neighborhood watchman, which was at the end of my street.

When I found myself among Turks again, I was frightened at first.  But I went largely because it would put me so close to Greece again, and I missed my homeland so very much.

Again, it may appear I go off course, but not really.  They say age brings wisdom, and that is oh, so true.  My fear of the Turks was quickly replaced by fascination and recognition; I swear I met more than a few people who were like me - people who had been alive for centuries and who were weary of life, yet loving every day.  In Constantinople, some would look at me with a glimmer of recognition, and I felt like I knew them too.  Old souls.

I came to start to see the deep texture of my life while I was living in Turkey.  For the past couple hundred years or so, I've known that life goes in cycles, and that we venture out in our youth, visit new places, try new things, and then ultimately begin a return.  On the return, we begin to see the patterns.  That's part of the texture of life.  It's as if humankind is living on a huge loom, and we are the bearers of each glimmering thread, weaving back and forth, encountering others, creating a pattern.  Creating new patterns.

Time and technology has allowed those patterns to extend further and further around the planet; sometimes I imagine that to be spirit would grant one the ability to hover over the earth and see the traces (like the Australian aboriginal idea of dreamlines) left by each individual as they have travelled their life's paths.  And the overall impression would be something, I think, like an elaborate oriental carpet. Some individuals who never leave their hometowns or homelands leave tightly inscribed, ornate patterns, while others, like me, are the ones who create wide arching, barely visible curves that cover nearly the entire canvas, intersecting with the smaller patterns, pulling them together, and making them part of the whole. 

It's hard for me to not notice that what I just described is something like a grid.

Within our own little lives and patterns, we often cannot see the larger picture, and so things appear so random.  I felt that way too for a long time; but today I don't feel that way at all.  Too many signs are telling me that the pattern of my life and the pattern of human life is intersecting in a very important and fundamental way right now.  Is it my fate that I am here right at this moment, telling you this?  Or was I supposed to be here, writing this?

I like to believe that, despite the fact that some foolish man's blundering mistake put me on this human ferris wheel for longer than I was intended to be here, I do have some power over who I am at any given time, and what I do as a result of that.  Indeed, I tend to believe in a limited form of fate -- we each encounter choices as we travel throughout our lives.  Like intersections.  We can choose one way, and encounter the karma that is associated with that path, or we can choose the other.  The outcome of either is our individual fate, but it is also closely related to the fate of the human race.  In that sense, we have the power over the text of our lives, as well as the text of humanity.

Sacred texts -- books -- end up being like scripts, giving us advise on the choices to take to restore humanity to the unity we all strive for.  And this is why I think it's interesting and important to spend time reading them, very carefully.

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