I thought I had a rule not to write about religion. Perhaps the rule is an illusion, though. Many times I write about flowers or trees or birds. The sky, insects, snow or rain have all featured here. All these things are a manifestation of the divine, I think. So, it should not be taboo to write about church, about choir, about the divine that resides in the turning year with its feasts, customs, prayers and devotions. Yesterday was Palm Sunday and today the start of Holy Week. There is a certain melody that is only sing on the Monday and Tuesday of this week. There’s a yearning in that melody that expresses perfectly the longing of a human being for unity with something beyond.
How many wise men and women have spent their whole lives wondering and pondering on that mystery…the solitude of every human being. That solitude can never be resolved but we try in so many ways…with so many religions too. We are in awe of a Budhist who goes on a pilgrimage by stretching himself on the ground, getting up and repeating this action thousands of times until he has come to the destination, a holy place. Well, Christians all over the world knelt down twelve times and touched their foreheads to the ground this evening. Oh, Muslims kneel down and touch their heads to the ground every day too. Religions require some pretty strange practices. Burning incense, lighting candles, repeating the same phrase over and over again. There are things you can and can’t wear in church. One shouldn’t bring certain animals into church but others are alright. Women do certain things there. Men do differently things.
And the scriptures that all religions hold as the reason and the rule book of their truth, their way of achieving the mystical union with the unknown? Impenetrable, cruel, nonsensical, sublime, true, false, open to interpretation.
I think that union, that ecstacy, that joy that every person longs for can be fleetingly found in a birdsong, the sight of a flower opening, in the arms of a lover, in the soft touch of a child’s hand. Sometimes it can be found in the music of Monday evening of Holy Week.