2008-02-29

what about today?

Today is the day that comes once every four years, February 29. It is the hiccup day, the catch up day, like paying off a debt owed to Time itself, as though we'd overdrawn on our proper allotment of time. Or perhaps, as in a board game, we are held back a day like a penalty round spent in jail. Or held back like the schoolchild who couldn't quite get the hang of long division...

Perhaps that's not quite right at all--perhaps today is pure bonus, a reminder of the gift of life, that it's less like "putting in time" and more like "enjoying the view." Either way, it gets me to thinking about how today came about, when the monks realized all those years ago that they had the days in a year counted out all wrong, that the year wasn't (strictly speaking) 365 days long. And to right this wrong, back in 1582, the Julian calendar was scrapped in favour of the Gregorian calendar; they skipped 10 days to bring the year back to itself and get back on track. And to maintain this crazy scheme, they instituted a leap day every four years, arbitrarily, February 29, slotted in to keep the days and seasons and the human time table happening just like it should. These monks figured it out, that each year is 365.2425 days (which works out to be 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds), that the solar calendar repeats every 146 097 days, which works out to 400 years, which works out to be 20 871 seven-day weeks. So each year is cut short, in a sense, and then caught up again on the leap year. Precisely, it takes 365.2425 days to circle the Sun once, our own brilliant celestial event, Solaris. And we figured out a way to make our years match the physical universe...

I suppose all this is something of a salute to the Copernican revolution when we realized that we weren't the centre of the universe or even the galaxy, that our existence and our stories are all happening in this massive context of shuffling stars and shooting comets, and the grand ballroom dance of the ever-exploding cosmos! And then the question arises once again, whether we'll join in this mysterious and passionate dance...

Einstein said that God doesn't deal in dice, meaning that God doesn't leave things up to chance. And I guess if you consider his theory of relativity (famously, E=mc2), he's right. Some people hold that even life itself isn't left up to chance, and I suppose, in a way, they're right too. But if you get to looking at everything, if you think about a life lived honestly and earnestly, if you think about the grand gamble of love and trust, if you think about how you go through your days and nights with hope and fear-- Hold all that for a moment, unfocused in your mind like one of those 3D pictures with the chaotic backgrounds, and maybe something emerges there. Maybe a shape emerges out of the page, out of the chaotic pattern, but if you try to focus on it then it sinks away, receding into the unfathomable chaos, ripples in a pond.

Einstein had the celestial scale figured out, the speed of light and the vast interplanetary fields of gravity--but he couldn't make it work on the miniscule scale, not in quantum theory or on the atomic level (for more on this see Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe). There was some gap in theory, some gulf in knowledge, that prevented an understanding of how the physical universe operated--and this dilemma still exists. The cohesive and comprehensive theory of (the physical) EVERYTHING is still at loose ends (just like the metaphysical everything). The thing that seems certain in all this is that the cosmos is unutterably more complex, more finitely infinite, more minuscule, than we can possibly wrap our minds around.

Some days that makes me feel so small and so fragile and so vulnerable. And some days, it makes me feel like a miracle; it allows me to be free...

So where does all this leave me? Well, today seems like a certain kind of day, a once-in-a-long-while day, which in the grand scheme of things isn't all that rare. The world turns on its axis and the elegant dance spins on and the random hiccups continue, and I ramble along still in the midst of this chaos and precision, perfectly imperfect...

Two weeks ago I decided a few things:
1) I am returning to school to finish my BA Honours in English (with a second major in Philosophy), which I will (hopefully) begin in Spring Term.
2) I will cease to live with any of the gnawing regret that paralyzes action, and I will take that regret to the interiority of reflection with the impetus to action.
3) I will give this life my all because there's really only one shot at it and it's far too precious and beautiful and captivating to be carried away on the waves of numbness...

Maybe all that doesn't sound like much--or much of anything to be making "decisions" about--but I tell you, it is.

We are all in this thing, just trying to live our experience and understand the truth of our existence the best we can, and while we try and try to shape the world to fit ourselves, really, we can only shape ourselves to fit the world. Not because we're purely determined or fated, but because we understand (imperfectly) that there is a grand image in the patterning of chaos, in the precision of the cosmos, and in the utter breathtaking beauty of encounter. We live in holy moments--or perhaps in the holy moment--in which the moment doesn't change but we change.

Here I stand then, as one naked and exposed--. There are some who know, who have walked through my waste land, this desert, this dark hollow of the land, with me. Friends who have offered a place to rest, a pool of refreshment, an open ear and an open mind--and slowly I have come to myself, as a man and as a follower of Christ, as a writer and a student, as one who realizes he's still on a journey and will not arrive until the moment of departure. And the deepest struggle in my life has proven to yield the deepest rewards: I am gay.

I've struggled with this fact as a man, as a Christian, as a scholar, and as a son/brother/friend. But perhaps this is what happens when order and chaos meet, when what we think and are given to believe conflicts with who we find ourselves to be and how we experience life. There is always a clash, an explosion, a struggle--but in the end, whether it destroys us or we somehow weather the storm and become (impossibly) better, the struggle is not the final word. Somehow we find our way, perhaps by the grace of God, perhaps by the will to survive; and we stumble through, usually with some scars and a few (un)healed wounds that will always ache, that will never fully heal, that give way to a limp or an arthritic joint--the metaphorical soul wounds that make us more beautiful. And when all is said and done, somehow these wounds make us all the more beautiful, like those portrait pictures you see of people with wrinkled faces and unruly hair and wild eyes and crooked, missing teeth--but underneath it all like a fine fabric made all the finer with the wearing, there is a wisdom and a peace there that shines through it all...

This, of course, is what I aim for--what, I think, we all plot a course towards--that somehow, at the end of the journey, we will be wise and peaceable and beautiful like we truly are. That somehow, whether at the end of things or along the way, we will realize how beautiful we all are, how worthy of love we are (simply because we are), and how truly we were these things all along...

If somehow we find these things in our deepest struggles or in our most brilliant glimpses, then somehow we have found the grace of God that gives way to forgiveness and mercy, that brings us hope and peace, that brings us Life and Love. With all our scars, with all our deep and dark secret struggles, we are becoming who we truly are: the Beloved Children of God, in the darkness and in the light...

5 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

i love it.
you.
these words.
beautiful.
beautiful.
beauty.

12:12 am  
Blogger Colter said...

There's really nothing to say in response to this incredibly powerful post except thank you. Thank you for sharing, for being who you are. I love you my friend and am so glad I have been privileged enough to walk through some seasons of this life with you. I'm proud of you and can't wait to see you next week.

10:18 pm  
Blogger chris campbell said...

Aw, shucks... Thanks you guys!

11:56 pm  
Blogger Stuart said...

brilliant. your craftsmanship with words and your honesty are a gift. Thanks.
http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=3701709082567809182

12:30 pm  
Blogger Becky said...

Hello Ghost.
Thank you for the post. Your honesty is refreshing, among other things.
Sincerely,
Becky

11:57 am  

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