I’m at that stage in life now where everything is defined by how long ago it happened. A few things happened a few days ago. But most, especially things involving God, have much longer measuring sticks. Months don’t even have that much meaning for me any more. Everything peeps through a gauze of decades ago. I realize I have no real use for the term, fortnight. And the word, age, though I love how it feels, seems too much of an exaggeration.
I am constantly wanting to stretch out my arm and pull things closer. As though my far-sightedness is being challenged by my age. Even my spiritual far-sightedness. Or perhaps I’m just getting lazy. Why strain? Why work to make everything precise and clear? Because even when it’s focused on, the focus only last for a bit of time, and then it slips away again.
So when was it, exactly, when I was first given the list of the 12 realms of healing? Before the modulation from first level of learning (the study of God) to my second level of learning (the study of man), that’s for sure. I was being prepared. Always. Even if I’m avoiding a subject matter, the training still goes on.
So there it is: at some undetermined point in time I had a list dropped in my lap.
- Cathedrals (or the nesting places of angels)
- Chaplaincy (a bunch of points of touching; interconnection)
- Congregational care (ugh; mopping the floor, mostly)
- Education (enigmatic, at best)
- Homeless (more interesting than it seems)
- Music (whatever: mostly busyness; scurrying)
- Rape (the means that evil uses to replenish its energy)
- Homosexuality/incest (the wrongful use of the word, yes)
- Spirituality (What Ever)
- Vowed religious (tied up with other realms in most interesting ways)
- Women (a category made up of other, little categories, which are made up of other little categories. . . .)
- and Gentle souls (the way God describes Black people)
At first, being quite shocked at the length of the list and the depth of the categories, I just thought: these are realms that God wants to see healed. They need healing from us and from God.
That sort of thing.
They need us.
After dabbing into them here and there for a while I began to wonder if, like everything else in the universe, there is a seen side to these realms.
And an unseen side.
And I began wondering if these things, these areas, actually functioned as portals for evil. That by their very nature, evil uses them to come into the world. And that by healing, God meant, sewing up and closing the wounds that exist there.
We need them to be “fixed.”
Some of these I took to quite quickly. At least managing to outline the concepts. Even getting through to some very early-level understandings.
Which was gratifying. And discouraging. It just made me realize how infinite each one was.
And there were twelve.
Quite a while ago (my life, the Official Sponsor of the concept, Ago), now, I sort of settled down on one of the topics. Sort of snuggled up into it.
And had no insights whatsoever.
Well, there was one.
But not very helpful, really.
So I kept studying.
I had landed (been stranded?) on Gentle souls.
I studied the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I can’t remember why I started there. But I did.
Wait, actually, there were some American novelists first. Perhaps that’s how I got onto the Congo.
I’m not going to worry about finding the connection.
I knew that the term, Gentle soul, actually referred to the nature of the soul that black people carry.
I found it interesting that there might be a “race” of soul.
Race, not in terms of skin color, but of tribal connectedness. As it were.
Something actually shared, like a genetic transmission. Something passed from one to another.
Or is just part of the makeup of this particular group of people.
One thing I learned is that gentleness isn’t the only “shared” qualities of these souls.
There was also joy (or joyousness).
Huge, gentle, happy souls.
The elephant of the soul family, it seems.
It has come back to me that for a while I studied, and actively grunted at, visions about how Black people were meant to come here to North America, or anywhere out of Africa, really, because there would come a time when Africa would not be a healthy place for people to live.
Perhaps we are living through that time now. It certainly feels that way to me.
It was made clear to me that the survival of our world depended on Black people being “planted” around the world.
Must have had something to do with the nature of their souls, I imagine.
At the time, I kept wondering why God couldn’t have found a way better than slavery to move people about the globe.
But now I wonder even more.
Was it because of their extraordinary gentleness?
Don’t most races change places through aggression? And ambition?
Who knows? Not I, said the walrus.
(And, yes, I can see how confusing matching up this quality with some of the barbaric practices that are committed by black people can be. But souls don’t dictate behavior, necessarily. And I’m not even sure that ALL Black people have this type of soul.)
So for years (uncounted) now I have scratched my head and tried to find what having a “gentle” soul meant. Was it especially attractive to evil, like innocent souls that gleam with sweet light?
Does this explain the extreme aggression? Did the gentleness allow the cruelty in?
I read with a rock in my stomach the descriptions of current living conditions in Africa.
So bad it falls out of the grasp of the imagination.
Shadows. Even back when Joseph Conrad was writing about the horror, he called the people of the Congo, mere shadows.
And they have continued to fade all this time.
I tried to connect this type of soul with the term, “poor in spirit,” with poor meaning, empty-handedness, without attachment. Fully open to receiving from God.
But I didn’t get very far.
In fact, I found my study was much like the jungles described and described and described: dense, impassable, dangerous.
No ideas connected up to each other. None found solace as more was learned.
All information did was deepen the shock.
Perhaps the gentleness was what allowed so much horror to occur in their lives.
But I couldn’t plug anything into anything else.
I could not find any internal coherence. No pattern. No construct.
Perhaps giantness meant vastness, like an endless desert. Barren. Lifeless.
Perhaps their souls could endure such vastness, such a challenge.
A combination of elephant and camel: able in ways that the rest of us can’t even imagine.
And then the other day came.
Shot were fired.
Not so unusual for us these days.
It’s been announced that this is what we should expect in our lives today. And tomorrow. And the next day.
Just another sprouting of chaos.
But there was something different about this shooting for me.
I could feel it.
Feel the puncture.
Perhaps it was because it happened in a church. While people prayed.
A man entered the church. He pointed his gun at God, and he fired.
And, yes, all these acts of violence are the same.
But this one I “saw.”
The ripping of the tender flesh.
The shredding of the tender souls.
And, for once, I could feel the gentleness.
In its violation I could touch its quality.
I could know it.
Like falling into the greenness of the ocean for the first time.
No one can tell you what it will be like.
It just has to be experienced.
And as I watch the reaction to this act, a reaction like no other before it: we are paying attention to ourselves as a whole society. We are cleaning up our symbols. Taking our stances seriously.
Or at least trying to.
We’re actually taking the blame.
The whole of us.
It’s as though, like Jesus, the spilt blood from these holy, gentle souls, that were praying that night, that were facing God that night, is purifying the very ground it fell on.
The pod has burst, and sent out its seed.
And, for some reason, we feel it.
We really do.