When I started Manna With Ketchup I had a vision. I was going to write about the challenges and joys and just plain weirdness of being a spiritual being in a human body.
Mid-January, shortly after I got the site up and partially running, my sister put a really difficult twist into my topic. She died. On purpose. She might have changed her mind later, but there was no later.
I stopped writing.
That is, I wrote like crazy – but not about her. I finished a journal in sonnets I had been working on for nine months. And then my words dried up. Poems beat at my brain, but I refused to write them down. I no longer trusted anything that I could write to be true.
So my idea about writing wisely about the conversations between spirit and body got derailed. But the question didn’t go away. Why be in a body at all when it seems so much easier to be without one?
My sister came up with one answer. In a journal written in the months before she died, she wrote that her life was suffocating her, and that she could see her spirit glowing, and she just wanted to go there.
So she took a short cut. I do find it comforting that she was heading toward something good, not just running away from something bad.
But hers was not the best solution – the fall-out has been pretty extreme. So for the rest of us – how do we deal with being embodied when the unfettered spirit seems so much lighter? Especially when we are really sad and really angry and life is really unfair?
I hit a wall today. I’ve been doing everything I know how to do – meditation, yoga, chanting, seeing practitioners, being a practitioner, taking walks, having meaningful relationships with all sorts of people, doing everything I can think of for my family – and I still feel depressed.
So I decide to plant kale. I don’t have a vegetable garden – I just kind of randomly plant the veggies in the spots where the perennials haven’t come back. And now there is this bald spot on the right side of the garden – a perfect location for fast food, only a few steps from the front door.
So I start digging and immediately hit a rock. I know it’s there, but for years I’ve been ignoring it, pretending that the plants don’t mind. But my sister is dead and I’m not going to pretend anything anymore. Besides, the perennials are boycotting me. So I start to excavate the rock.
I have no idea how to make writing about this sound interesting, because it isn’t interesting. It takes a long time. The more I dig, the bigger the rock becomes. I keep trying to strike a balance between finesse and force, between leveraging it out and breaking the shovel.
There is one point of interest – I make an archaeological find! an ancient trowel with the handle snapped off. The Rock won the battle with some previous gardener. But not with me, not yet.
On the other hand, I don’t want to get grandiose and hurt my back. I consider waiting until my son comes home to help. But that would just create an opportunity to be mad at him.
So I jiggle and heave and finally The Rock comes free. It’s too heavy to lift, but I manage to roll it up over itself and out.
And there it sits, dwarfing my dog and the ornamental stone that years ago was placed above it.
Rocks and human bodies – matter is dense stuff. Angels have nothing to push against; they are already light. But as we press the weight of our bodies against the rocks and the blocks and the hardest emotions, our souls can grow and our spirits can rise. At least a little.
I still have no answers. But at least I’ve started writing again. It’s not particularly wise or profound writing, but at least it’s not not true.
And I do feel a little bit better.