“To call an evil is already an act of violence which then obligates us to action of the spirit.”
– Father Paul Evdokimov
The benefit of putting oneself out on the edges of the empty white spaces of the cartographer is that one cannot instantly give voice to, and type across the continents, and opine, and publish. One is forced to sit, unconnected to others, virtually and really truly, and to wait in a circulation of thoughts and observations. And even, if one jots such items down faithfully in notebook or on laptop, there they stay, waiting, lurking, for the light of day, some distant time in the future. And so, one can (re)turn, (re)view, and (re)write, and (re)claim a stronger sense of certainty and signification.
And today: hit over the head by some various things I read in an essay by Beaudoin, I did just that.
It was after None. After: de Profundis… Reading Beaudoin’s essay “Is Your Spirituality Violent?” whilst listening to Probst’s opera, Maximilian Kolbe, soaking my chaffed and calloused feet in a plastic bucket of cold spring soapy water, sipping a glass of homemade wine, with a bar of cheap made-in-China sandalwood-scented soap, locking my afternoon away in my room, on this feast day of the martyrdom of Saint Boniface who, if I am to be honest, never much figured in my constellation of holy cards and influences. The opera: dissonant chords and words in sharp Deutsch and soft French, along with harsh fermented papaya and beet juice. I cannot bring my self to take a walk this afternoon. In my sunny warm room, I must return to my texts – to correct my over-simplicities: to record rightly more so, so I want and hope to.
But I go out, instead. And I carry with me my notebook and my No. 2 pencil and:
“Imperial psychology assumes that the suffering of Americans is of greater spiritual significance than that of anyone else. It has the privilege of choosing not to care about people who might teach us about ourselves, who might interrupt the security of our American and Christian identity.” – Tom Beaudoin, 2008
“For too long, the facelessness of the economic and religious other – student, worker, gay priest, terrorist suspect – has kept God faceless. But now Jesus returns to open for us the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25, and says to postmodern, consumer capitalist, American Christians: whatever you did to the most faceless of my sisters and brothers, you did to me… Jesus calls us by remaining faceless… Jesus is the faceless man, whose flourishing is pinned, governed by our practices.” – Tom Beaudoin, 2008
Out here: au Congo: these words hit back at me and at my wrestling with the fictions of the monks and the visitors, these past days. They are wrong: about me and about my economic status: and yet, they are spot on, at the same time. My world is responsible for theirs, more than theirs, at this historical moment and opportunity, will ever blowback upon mine. We are linked back to set after set of sins of commission committed back before even Kennedy and Khrushchev. And short of switching places as the old abba once said of the leper, short of that, and even that, if that was at all possible, not really doing diddly, not at all.
Out here: against Metz, and his: “There is no truth for me which I could defend with my back turned to Auschwitz”: against my grandfather and his personal photos of the camp and the skeletal remains he liberated: against years of being bullied: and bullying others as fair game: against the amelioration of the penance from a former vainglorious self, and such a stupefaction from entitlements:
I wear the word muzungu as a badge, as a cilice, in the manner of the flamboyant self-oriented deprecations of one of the many Holy Fools from the old days of the old Syriac Church. Muzungu: a focal point for the jokiness of others, for derision, for appeal, for abuse, for isolation; and in this social ritual of proto-mortification – I think I can begin to outline the matrix which runs across us all and yet which we all willingly turn our attentions away from: it, being: too communal: too sacrificial: too demanding: too much an affront to what we already having going, our selves and our self-oriented interests and aspirations for much more of the same.
I am the muzungu: the point person for much misunderstanding and misappropriation and misconstruing and misplaced hostilities. And if the timing is bad: I can become Girard’s scapegoat, as I have been, in visits past: attacked, kidnapped, ransomed, locked up for extortions, shot at, and spat at, on porches, late at night, by those intoxicated and liberated by chanvre and Kananga.
And taking the walk that I was not going to take, I sense now a necessity for me to be this muzungu. It is a bridging that can never be bridged.
In Africa, across every path, always ANTS – amassing, in motion, along lines, in flight, or in attacking, advancing. The giant soldiers, though blind, act quickly, and rush in, and bite hard: pencil tip, fingertip, toe, penetrating with their incredible mandibles, drawing blood, and never letting go, until a martyr’s death: one for the tribe: automatic.
In leaving my cell and leaving Br. A. and Br. B. at the washing lines, and Br. R. socializing with the workers working to restore the old abbey church by July sometime, and leaving a different Br. R. at the gate, set up to keep out the roaming cows… I walk across the ants and into the mounting breeze. There is red dust in the air now instead of rain clouds. I can smell the dry season creeping in from Uganda across Rwindi and the Rutshuru territory, and slapping gently across the hills and mountains of Masisi.
No camera. Much to do later after dinner in preparation for tomorrow: tomorrow, the villages and the schools and the formation regarding the electronic libraries: the experiment if experiment is the right word choice. The experience, predicated on a past visit, a promise made, and now a reunion set in motion.
I walk in the sun and the silence. A novice runs by in green soccer attire. He is Hare to my Tortoise. I reach the entrance to the monk’s cemetery, and he is doing sit-ups. And I walk past, and along the tall pine trees and the patterns of sunlight. More ants: Army Ants. I stop to watch and think of Schopenhauer and his pulsing world of representations and a cold constantly creating Will. The novice runs past me and over the ants.
The sun softens its shadow play on the hills that slope up to high hills, and the mountain, and Kibarizo, tomorrow’s eventual destination. I stretch out my hand to the sun: five fingers fit between the sun and the ridgeline: 50 minutes max. 24 minutes to Vespers.
O Lord, haste to help me be less so as to be hopefully more.