Christmas Day and I'm doing a little cleaning. Some construction, dilatory of course, is going on and one must keep down the dust. Got another new wetvac, the last one was faulty, and it's a pleasure to see the floor get actually wet and then sucked. That's what she said. Gotta expect contractors to go slow over these holiday days, but I get a tad fretful.
Went to church, a church, for the first time in, oh, 12 years. Is a "christening" the same as a baptism? It's the first of that nature I've been to. And I was at my own baptism, twice. Lutherans (took me about 8 tries to spell that right) do infant baptism, and of course an old-time Scandinavian like me was raised Lutheran. Christmas Eve was present-opening time. Objectively, that does make more sense. Now I don't even bother. (Just texted my son.) Second time as an adult, over twenty years ago now. I've been wayward. The sect I identified with, and still do, if I were to, did adult baptism -- it is after all a conscious decision -- and infant dedication. In either case, of infant "baptism" or dedication, it has to be about the adults. I took my own son down to the dam and "baptized" him, because even then I had a sense of what it was about.
A Methodist ceremony, this Sunday. Not as liturgical as Lutheran, but very, uh, methodical. There was a call and response prayer, that I read but could not speak outloud. It was a promise to do things, be holy, be Christian, in a way that I with my dark heart could not commit to. Made me very sad, to face how far I've wandered.
Held a baby for the first time in decades. The pastor, a Korean woman, while she was officiating held up the baby but did not support the head. Not a mother, I'm guessing. I was chanting to myself, hold the head hold the head, and some matron in the congregation actually called it out. Later I got buttonholed by a too-friendly fella who wanted to talk about history and global warming. Well, at least it's something to do -- I'm not good just standing around with strangers. The pastor's sermon did not have one word of actual Bible teaching. If they don't preach the Bible, they're just making a speech.
So. There are people you like, people you love, someone to call when you need help, someone to ask advice of, confide in. What is the world, life, but memory and phenomena, experience and interpretation. Life is crowded not with objects but with relationships, large or small, many or few, but filled.
The most recent media monster set a fire then murdered the responders and killed himself. Bang bang. Years ago he'd hammered his grandmother to death, yesterday he killed his sister. Left a note that talked about burning down the neighborhood the way he liked to do, something like that. He saw himself as elemental, a force to be reckoned with. Fearsome, powerful. Unstoppable will. Not at all pathetic or contemptible.
Whether it's Beslan, with hundreds of young children blown to bits by terrorists, or a lone gunman in a kindergarten classroom -- an atrocity precisely one order of magnitude less horrific, statistically -- well, life is not safe. Some people don't want to be hurt, and it controls them. Some people want to hurt others. You think this is a too-obvious observation? It is the secret of existence.
The great lesson and error of my life is about how painful love can be. The error is that I'm afraid, now, to love. Ho hum. It's going to be a very long day tomorrow, and I'm not going to be able to sleep.