In the spirit world


Friday, January 30, 2015


          I walked to Hoboken yesterday even though the hill up from my house still clung to ice and snow from the blizzard that was not a blizzard, and people still did not shovel the little we had.

          This is the luxury I missed when working ten years in the Bayonne office. On better days in spring or fall, this is a spiritual walk, one in which I let the air weave through me as I find new routes along a well trodden landscape to get from where I am to where I ought to be.

          In winter, the challenge is greater, but so is the satisfaction in arriving safe both in the morning, and then later in the evening, home again.

          Sometimes, I walk listening to music or poetry, but just as often, I leave the ear buds and simply listen to the ambient sounds of the world – starved for nature this part of the world lacks, and the old river I used to jog along each morning as regularly as a religious service – seeking some spiritual being that I know exists but cannot prove – only feel.

          I always ache for spring, even when fall comes, for the buds bursting over me and inside of me. But at this particular time, the need is most acute, as my boots crunch through ice and over piles of frozen snow under which new growth stirs, echoing the hidden stirrings inside myself.

          During this walk I thought about my old arch rival from grammar school, who I searched to find for years and only discovered by accident that he had passed away. His older sister died late last month and her obituary mentioned his predeceasing her.

          He and his side kick had spent most of our eight years in St. Brendan’s picking on me until I finally got fed up with it and beat them up – a somewhat comic affair since I ended up sitting on top of one hitting him in the head with his own shoe, while rolling the other down the grassy knoll in front of the school door.  The scout master came out to this comedy and expelled both of them from the troop, aware of just how patient I had been for so many years.

          Oddly enough, this rival met a mutual school mate years later and asked about me, saying he really missed me.

          Indeed, we sometimes become more spiritual connected to our enemies than those we see as closest to us, and often these relationships last when none others will, even in the absence of seeing each other – as with me and my rival.

          His side kick at St. Brendan’s also died, but of the usual drug-related circumstances I would have expected, deteriorating in that hazy, uncomfortable, and unsustainable excess of the 1970s. But my rival was different. He’d been married and divorced, and when last word came, he was still stinging over the loss.

          I had other rivals since – punks both high and low, cool and uncool, mean and mean-spirited, but none ever filled up my time or attention like my first one did. And in walking in the cold yesterday, I sought out his spirit in that world beyond this, just to tell him all is well and that over the long years, we shared a plain of existence few others could achieve. This is beyond the idea of forgiveness. That happened long ago. But through the long mists that have hung over our lives, I think I came to a better understanding about his needs and mine, and how we most likely strove for the same thing and simply took different routes to get there.





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