Wednesday, June 12, 2013

en plein air

Was there ever a man or woman of high station who was not, in some measure, as nimble and needle-toothed as a mongoose? I doubt it. Call it ruthlessness, call it wisdom ... still, as nimble and needle-toothed as a mongoose.

On Tuesday, an Associated Press story said that Pope Francis had lamented the existence of a "gay lobby" within the upper echelons of the Roman Catholic Church. His remarks were made in a private meeting with confederation of priests and nuns who hailed from Latin America. The meeting was not recorded (apparently), but confederation members cobbled together a report of the meeting for their own uses -- a generalized sense of what the pope had said.

Reports of a "gay lobby" at the Vatican were not new. Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had commissioned an investigation and report on the topic in an effort to clean up the Vatican's act. The report was completed, Benedict quit his job, and the hot potato landed in Francis' lap.


Roman Catholics high and low do not, as a matter of church policy, take kindly to homosexuality, although church documents dating back to at least the seventh century depict the simple human difficulty a guy might have trying to keep his pecker in his pants. Homosexual or heterosexual, a pecker has a mind of its own and the church, squirm and wriggle as it might, was not immune. But that squirming and wriggling, the denying and gainsaying of human sexuality, had led to various kinds of blackmail and arm-twisting within the upper reaches of a smooth and soothing church. If I had to guess, I think I would guess that Francis might be forgiven for viewing this nest of vipers and whispering, "Oh shit!"

The Latin American confederation's document made it into the public square although, supposedly, it was not supposed to.

But as the mongoose in charge, it is hard not to imagine that the public unveiling of a private report was precisely what Francis had intended. The problem was intractable within the Vatican walls. No one wanted his ox gored and fought viciously to assure that it wouldn't be. The "gay lobby" was playing out against a wider scandal of priests who had sought their own place in the mongoose sun and plied a sexual trade on hapless children. What other recourse was there, assuming anyone wanted to clean up the Vatican act, than to air the secrets, lance the boil, make a clean (or at any rate cleaner) breast of things ... to take the secrecy out of the secrecy?

As the richest and most powerful corporation on earth, the Roman Catholic Church is in a good position to lose a bit of power, lose a bit of credibility, suffer a body blow ... and still thrive in some new-made format. And it is for this reason that I suspect Francis -- the oh-shit Francis saddled with a no-win situation -- might have welcomed what a larger public could find revelatory or wowsers... things en plein air with the lesser mongooses sent away to lick their wounds.

Together with this in-the-news speculation, I wonder about the corruption that may evolve in any life dedicated to a nimble and needle-toothed capacity. Call it ruthlessness, call it wisdom ... still the effort to keep secrets secret means that so much energy is devoted to keeping things secret that the energy devoted to addressing the deeper secret itself becomes diminished and obscured.

What is kept secret? What is the deeper secret? A mongoose mind can bounce and dodge and weave with incredible swiftness. And where more so than in spiritual endeavor? It's not a big deal, in one sense -- everyone, man or woman, has a hard time keeping their peckers in their pants. But it can also be a pretty big deal when that same man or woman may long for a little peace or seek to find out "the secret of life." With all the secrets carefully tamped down or held nimbly at bay with explanations and beliefs and other needle-toothed applications, what energy is left for any honest peace or any honest unraveling of "the secret of life?" The mongoose of control and understanding frolics. Explanation is heaped on explanation until what is explained is lost in the discourse ... and there is no peace.

The secret of life, for those willing to grant such a grandiose sentiment, is that life has no secrets. How can I say that? I can say that because the person reading these words is not dead. S/he is alive and reading and there is no secret in it. S/he knows the secret of life, whether or not the mongoose likes it. Life is alive -- anyone knows that without thinking. Life is alive, I am alive, you are alive ... and there are no secrets in it.

Easier said than done ... OK. But a little at a time, with attention and responsibility, there is no reason not to become at ease with the obvious. The obvious and inescapable. The secret of life is that there are no secrets.  How much more peace could anyone desire? How much more peace could anyone achieve? How much more peace could anyone actualize?

Sure, the mongoose creates the cobra. The cobra creates the mongoose. Priests fuck little boys or maneuver and pose in positions of great power. It is not something to overlook or paper over with a mongoose-y 'goodness.' There are heinous secrets to be told, within and without ... and some pretty nifty ones as well. But still ...

This morning, against a grey sky, a single, brilliant male cardinal settled on a telephone wire outside my house. He was alive and as bright and stunning as any sunrise. He sat there, completely whole, completely alive ... and then flew off.

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