Sunday, October 7, 2012

2012.10.07 Patineur

Patineur is a French word meaning skater or ice-skater.  So? 

A friend of mine used the word recently to refer to a client who tended to skim the surface of life, not wanting to “dive into the wreck” a metaphor poet Adrienne Rich used to indicate the courage it took to take the plunge into the whole deep mess of one's life.

Spirituality is about the depth dimension. I remember when I decided to trust my therapist enough to descend emotionally the 14 inches from my head to my heart.  For years I’d managed life from the neck up—very efficiently.  It worked until it hurt too much because one day my heart escaped and went off on a wild love adventure of its own. It took my body along with it . They both went without my permission as, furiously protesting, I followed.

I could no longer be a patineur doing and saying the right things according to Hoyle or my mother.  I had to submit to transplant surgery, not to get a new heart but to readmit the one I thought had betrayed me but could lead me to truth.  The process of reconnection was long, messy, and downright dangerous as all breaking free, and bad, is.

One day I got all the way down to the ruined treasure.  

My therapist had been trying to convince me I was angry.  I only wanted the sorrow. Easier to cry than rage, especially for a woman/good/god girl like me.  I came to a session feeling agitated, annoyed I couldn’t smooth myself out.  

“What is the energy like,” my therapist asked.

“All penned up,” I said.

“Is it an animal? ”

“A bull,” I said.

"Be the bull,” she said.

Is she crazy or what?  I laughed.

“Be the bull,” she insisted.

I crossed my arms over my chest and smiled condescendingly.

Then she did something so rude and outrageous I couldn’t believe it. She got up from her seat, pronounced this session over, and went over to her desk to do paper work.

Feeling huffy and prissy and thinking my therapist a real ass I opened my bag, got out my checkbook and wrote out my check.  I’d show her!  As I was preparing to leave, cruelly abandoned but in a self-righteous huff, my bull stormed onto the scene.  I began to paw the carpet, snort and heave and eventually toss my head in the air and howl, a full-throated human roar. 

My God I can’t believe I’m writing about this. But it happened. My heart and body once again demonstrated they had a will of their own. And once again I followed them.

When my bull subsided I came back into the room and looked at my therapist again for the first time. She’d returned to her accustomed seat across from me.  She was an attractive women anyway, but suddenly she was beautiful—striking, bright and brilliant— for the first time. 

I had new eyes. Eyes that didn’t slide quickly over the surface, not patineur eyes, but I will say her face had a patina as she looked at me, the now quiet bull,  and smiled. 

Did I have any words? she asked.  What came to me has stayed with me as a kind of measuring stick for my own integrity, and that of others, even nation and church.  Some days I think we live in a patineur world, slip-sliding along the surface of clichĂ©, slogan, bombast, and empty rhetoric, refusing to let go of our fear of the deep because it might just force us to take a true look at ourselves and the other "side" we imagine will destroy what we love, that they equally love.

The words of the hymn that arose are stunning for their emotional rigor. It’s a violent hymn, a prayer,  not a patineur hymn, its poetry digs deep— “in wrath and fear jealousies surround us,”  “led by no star,”  “love is mocked, derided,” “there is no meekness in the powers of earth . . .building proud towers which shall not reach to heaven.”  "Bind us in thine own love for better seeing.”    The refrain after each of verse is..........................

Thy kingdom come, O Lord, thy will be done.