The past can be so wondrous or so horrific and yet it is past and only the present can it find a viable peace. This is not just some spiritual-lite mumbo jumbo. It is a fact and I think anyone who reflects a little will know it is true.
Today there is the story of a 42-year-old man who is who is due in court because, 35 years after the alleged facts, he beat a 65-year-old retired priest bloody for sexual assaults when the younger man was a child:
"He took my faith, he took my innocence, he took my sense of self," Lynch said of Lindner. "He raped me, he tortured me, he violated me in every single way, and he completely changed who I was supposed to be forever."Yesterday was Veterans Day, a day when those who survived their service and perhaps combat were honored. It was also a day, I imagine, when some of those veterans faced off again against some truly awful memories and the fact that no one in a civilized setting could possibly envision or suffer from such memories. They were alone and haunted and there was no one to tell.
How much might anyone give to be free of such a past? How much might anyone give to revive and relive a wonderful or wondrous time in their lives? It has a heartless feeling -- the past is past and no memory, good or bad, really remembers accurately. But that doesn't mean the past cannot be as searing or uplifting as memory.
I don't much like the smarmy nitwits who address such edgeless memories with spiritual nostrums -- texts and teachers and "you've got to let it go." First, I think, the facts in all their horror or all their splendor need to be acknowledged: How can what is past be past when it infuses the present so fully? Intellectually, the past is past. Viscerally, it's anything but past. It claws and bites or fills you like a kiss. And one of the aspects of the past is that you are alone ... and that aloneness runs counter to every social nicety...which makes everything worse. What was relied on in social and intellectual settings cannot be relied on.
Now what? We cannot share experience ... so where's the joy? Where's the peace? Where's the relief?
It's hard work, peace. It's not like some group-think rally at which someone makes peace out to be the absence of war. Peace is a personal -- really intimate -- business and it requires hard work, close attention, the patience of Job, the courage of a redwood. There is no fortune-cookie, one-size-fits-all nostrum.
There is the work ... the same work everyone does in one way or another, the same work Jesus did when he walked alone into the desert. Some accept the challenge. Some do not. And still experience demands the effort if there is to be any credible peace.
The past is past.
What does that mean? What does that mean really?
What is peace?
Who am I?