Monday, November 06, 2006

the gaping wound

Just found this when looking through my wp documents. It was a bloody weird time....

The Gaping Wound

It is somehow the case that when my body opened itself to give life to the world my soul also opened and would not shut again. As my body healed and the stitches dissolved to reveal new binding tissue, still there was a gaping wound through which began to pour a lifetime of thought, memory and learning. And it would not begin to shut. Long after the period which books and midwives tell you it is not unusual not to recognise yourself, I was still gazing in wonder at the revelation of who I had been and who I was about to become.

God came as a force pinning me to the bed. Like the cloud of Moses enclosing me in its darkness. The only comfort of which was the absolute experience of it. This was fear but of a new sort. The fear was of all things changing. But the comfort was all things being. No cause for working up a faith or answering some internal questions. This thing just was.

The gods I knew had left me but they left in kindness. There was no sneering or cynicism. ‘you knew us,’ they seemed to say, ‘And we were real, but now we do not exist’. They embraced me with such affection and then were gone for good. And with them the fear of them. And with them their judgement. Now all things good were truly good. All things open. All things mysterious and nothing named. I looked at Ana in her cot and lamented that I would never own her again. That her very perfection lay in that fact. That she was free and could not be owned. And I missed her. And the new god told me that neither could I be owned for nothing is owned. God is not owned. This distant creator lay on top of me for days. Every time I tried to come to him I could not but he came to me and enveloped me in that cloud where everything dispersed and came apart and was set free all at once.

An old man, the father of my friend, was having mass said for me regularly and as the days poured into one long day I felt a new belonging, even as I became more alien than ever before. It was a sort of communion of the saints and for a while I could not tell if I was a saint alive or a saint dead. Somewhere in between I believe for in that state of everything-changing the world still breathed human people in and out but I was caught in its breath, drawn to death, drawn back to life. Trapped in that constant wind was nothing like before. But the realisation was that what before had felt like a grounding in reality was only a false floor. It was necessary in its time but now the floor had gone and the world became so much larger and so much smaller. The contradictions would seem to come from everywhere and somehow everything would make much more sense that way. That god could be a physical force and a dark cloud. But god could also be the breathing in and out of the world. And I could be hunted down and held down and at the same time free and swimming in the air.

If this sounds far fetched I had only to hear other accounts of giving birth. The suffering of being in physical anguish and being torn and at the same time the joy of the activity of birthing which you cannot control and yet, since it is your body and you are for a short time becoming your body you are the only one in control. No wonder we cry out. No wonder they tell us to expect to feel unusual for a while afterwards. We have discovered how powerful we are when we are not trying to reason everything. We have discovered that to stop and question the process while it is occurring, if it were possible, would render it useless. We have discovered that giving out life is something that requires giving up life as we know it, if your life has been one where you need to think and reason and control. And the power therein is enormous. People will later ask ‘who delivered your baby?’ and the only answer is, I delivered my baby. Who else could have? Should she have been taken from my body with metal implements or lifted out by the hands of a surgeon, still my womb gave her up. And what choice did I have? None! But it is not a matter of choice, or of mind. It is only a matter of body. This is not to demean the process but rather to exalt what we did not previously know; that the human body possesses something more powerful than the mind. The ability to create life. Those who do not have children also give life to themselves as they unconsciously breathe and move.

And perhaps this is what is meant by ‘he created man in his own image’. That life can come and go and we cannot control it and yet we, our bodies, are the beings that live and die and we should acknowledge that power that our bodies have if we are to begin to acknowledge where the body, soul, spirit and mind began.


The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Oh sweet jesus! This has left me speechless!

the most beautiful work of art i have read in a long long time...

mister tumnus said...

that means a lot to me paul. a very lot. thank you millions.

Variations On A Theme said...

I love this post. Thanks so much for taking time to write and share it.

mister tumnus said...

thanks. i wrote it a few months ago and just came across it in my documents the other day. it is amazing to me how much all this stuff just feels like yesterday when it is very nearly two years since ana's birth. i wonder if it will always be like that.