Routines and Rituals To begin this thrice-segmented series, click here. The dogma-driven days of fundamentalism-influenced fear are far from gone as I consistently discover myself in a doggone struggle for structure only to collapse in capitulation – gobsmacked by a once Goddamned synthesis of the searing and the serous. I glance up from my desk read more..
The dogma-driven days of fundamentalism-influenced fear are far from gone as I consistently discover myself in a doggone struggle for structure only to collapse in capitulation – gobsmacked by a once Goddamned synthesis of the searing and the serous. I glance up from my desk and gaze out toward lower Manhattan’s skyline – to city-shone sunshine – and know that, manifestly, another unforeseen change will befall. Another end I cannot see in the boundary-free fullness of ephemerality. Sometimes I feel more in the shadow of the rising sun, and I am often disoriented in the shade as it sets, but the deficiency of direct light doesn’t disprove Heaven’s closeness. It’s forever within – and the faith is already in sight, whatever may come – and I am all right in being one measure of the blessed whole.
From a scriptural revelation to a personal revolution – those close calls with that Second Coming and this coming again and again to a realization that something greater than myself is pushing me from behind and pulling me from ahead – I still mildly contend with compulsions and get habitually obstructed by otherwise healthy obsessions, but I have determined that while routine can keep a man constrained and controlled, it also has the ability to provide him with a stability that supports an unleashing of the creative beast within.
Similarly, while once constricted by rituals that shielded me from facing myself and risking Hell’s fires, I now relish the sacred specialness they bathe the banal in – a verifiable baptism of fire! Ever neophilic, yet enduringly nostalgic, I have revived an age-old revealing of celestial mysteries in a commonplace apocalypse-through-observance.
That full-on feeling that something abysmal will transpire if I don’t do that specified something is day-to-day replaced by forfeiting to a free-for-all flow that finds me surrendering to uncertainty so as to summon an outpouring of synchronicity. The sort of accord that could raise an unchurched, Earth-bound man to meet All That Is in the far-flung and uncharted. “Aha!” after “Eureka!” is all contained within the confines of routine’s cohesiveness and invoked in the sacrament of customarily commemorated ritual: All the pieces coming together to co-create the whole. Only here can we ever hope to touch on peace and prosperity, happiness and harmony. Within ourselves and with one another.
Our cultural commons don’t nod much encouragement for this magic-making of the mundane, but I believe it’s in routine and ritual that one can best question himself and his feelings in order to place himself in the midst of a revelation and do what a modern world says he cannot. And that is to LIVE – not in the past, and not even for the future – but immediately! Without a second thought, and disregarding a second (or third or fourth or…) coming. To pierce whatever twilight you are in and be in pre-apocalyptically peaceful, actively passive ease is oftentimes a return to form, and always a re-birth of sorts.
I reliably arise by 8am, and I’m regularly asleep before Midnight. I allow for sufficient rest and recurrent siestas. From A.M.’s onset of pencil-to-paper with a cup of Joe to hitting the gym to quickly checking my accounts and replying to texted inquiries to P.M.’s outset of leisurely reading and strolling the streets of Hell’s Kitchen – determinedly available to humankind’s diversity and the decisive divinity in architectural detail – after an acupuncture or chiropractic appointment I will reappear, refreshed and unfettered, to my aerie and a workaday of penetrating man-to-man connection (that then has my complete attention) with Joe or Jim or you or him… Or I may show up to get this peculiar blog entry down in unperturbed hours-long spurts – untethered – as the cell phone is frequently, emphatically, on silent and out-of-sight.
In these inspired instances, surrounded by sylvan art in my contemporarily arborous sanctuary above concrete and in the clouds, I concentrate on one flaming reflection in order to synthesize it with another in an integrative theme. I allow for patience in this process as I occupy the capacity for that blessed boredom I acquired in the sticks of the Great Lakes State so long ago.
When a repressed Evangelist for Jesus, I was so seduced by the masculine without that I reduced myself to a suppression of the feminine within. All I had known was to place everything back-to-back so I could not come face-to-face with a side of life that might signpost a Hell-bound open-endedness. Now, from time to time, I Spotify Lead Me On in religious order, and – track by track – I complete one once parentally-assigned task after another, now, self-serving task.
Nowadays, with a backdrop of melancholic musings, a time-honored history and a holiness-restoring epoch marked by mystery and triggered through transformation welcome me just as I am – widening my horizons in a new world ordering. In the repeated listening I become who I am by virtue of what I take in while performing these purpose-filled tasks at hand. The ritual and routine merge in a manner that turns me off to perfectionism’s procrastination of living freely and fully and turns me on to the sloppiness of life in my tidied apartment and the messiness of emotions in this contained, safe space.
From a 17-year-old lucid hallucination to a lastingly muddled understanding that I might soon effortlessly exult in the apprehension that accompanies apocalypses – those glimmering glances of the magical that beamed through the cracks of monotheistic belief and the once smothering throttlehold of resolutely followed rituals – Amy has gone from comprising my plight in her trumping of the traditional, to pulling a teen me into an all-encompassing present-day admission of imperfection when I had been pushed from Christendom to be at battle with the blameful.
Led onward, the fearfully literal prophetic visions by the likes of the James Dobsons and the Jerry B. Jenkinses, the Jerry Falwells and the Tim LaHayes, are rendered false as I surrender to such a Christ-like embracing of the obscure and a holy-in-its-humanness consideration of destiny’s inevitable unveiling. This musical custom transcends the troubled times and allows a compassionate transparency as I relax on my quest for exactitude in once time-consuming, now space-creating activities.
Though having not long ago been told in bold language that I was faithless in the asking, I listened between the lines until I faithfully found myself inquiring away. Having been taught to deny my body in learned submission, I had prayed to be made worthy and tithed my ten percent only to come to the conclusion that I could not save the world from sin if I failed to deliver myself from the clutches of a fear-based faith. The roar of the future in my ear, and all those then-presently pointing fingers leading me to feel inherently cold and blind and weak, it was in Amy’s wresting with an undeniable doubt that I allowed myself to wrestle with angels and demons alike in a dilemma as old as an unoriginal Adam and renewed in this singular second.
The numerical rituals were formerly so fearfully reinforced that they inhibited any sense of the awe-someness they were originally intended to bring about. And the repetitive nature of my routines were then so uncompromising that I was overpowered by them and powerless to myself. I was a willful driver on a fearful road to nowhere while listening intently to a willing passenger riveted by an everlasting, uncontained love.
Amy touched upon the past with reverence so as to pave the way for a phenomenally hopeful future I’m now along the radical ride for. Will I be restricted by a concrete yesterday or liberated in a today that extends into an endless expanse? I was far from ready at 15, but – alas! – the dream indeed indicates that I am truly rapture-chosen, and a 16-year-old’s implosion and a 17-year-old’s exploding into a synchronicity-laden present reveal – over and over – a rolling revelatory unraveling.
Yes: Well-ordered, often-executed, sometimes-disrupted daily routines and scheduled dates keep me in more than a bit of a modern-day fit of grit and giddiness – perhaps defiant, but never deflated. When I recognize that a fated “someday” may well be a belated today, I steadfastly focus on targets while leaving space for spontaneity – leaning in an unsettled constancy, proactive in the present. Just as Amy-on-repeat did during my adolescence, the familiarity and fluency of the recurrent slowly uncover life’s titillating tidbits. And every now and then the schedule gets squashed, and the fascinating fortuitously ensues! Then I redraft the itinerary and allow for more alchemy!
But, oh! The mystical ritual – from page-turning to sage-burning – finds me unafraid and unashamed to feel that being soul-stretched by the day-to-day is not a far-fetched ideal. As long as these ceremonials are not socially imposed or self-inflicted, but are come at culturally and personally through inspiration, they enclose in a way that opens one up. I re-read these blog entries before posting them while soaking in Dead Sea salt and lavender oil. In sweat and enervation I slow down and link ostensibly dissimilar dots. Night-by-night, I tiredly lie in the tub so as to usher in the unprecedented. “How could this have come from me?!”
Yes! If a routine is a vigilant vehicle and a ritual is a dreamy driving that leads to a pensive passengering, let the passageway unbend before you – because the unfathomable is within you and the framework of life is what drives it to an indefinable, yet clearly felt perspicuousness as you put away the fault-finding of delay for the refinement in the process itself.
For now, with my preordained daily routines and timetabled days set aside for prearranged impulsiveness, something will certainly arise – from cancer scares to new mooned intention-setting – and the walls will come crashing down, and I somehow adapt. And I don’t wish to mislead you – it’s terrifying to have grown up all God-fearing and disordered in a world that was supposed to be perfectly ordered only to attempt magic and method in a Sphere where self-expansion requires regular re-routing.
So I routinely, ritualistically nurture my inner child, Men Alive, and my ever-enduring adolescent self. Once harbingered by the voice of Amy and now heralded by my own conviction, the telling times we live in find me guided and goaded from that dark place to a space of light. Here, there is an innovative vigor unveiled exclusively in this venerated vulnerability.
If processes don’t have an end, then life is expressed in its progression. So a particular dualistic Deity can just rest on His laurels up there in a Paradise that – verily I say unto you – is down here. Everything implodes on itself – extends and explodes – and is re-arranged and absorbed into remarkable renderings of the same consecrated Everything. Personal progress unfailingly comes in apocalyptic bits and fits – far-reaching failures, feeble flops, and blinked-at bursts of brilliance.
And the smoke shall clear – the brimstone burns but briefly – and it’s simply broadened daylight in the end. Evil deeds and difficult times are unquestionably in the distance, but you are best off not expecting back-to-back experiences of vibrant aliveness if you refuse to come face-to-face with death. To possess an expectancy of surprise and delight in the ordered day we’re in without the expectation of a smooth evolution – awake and alive to ourselves and to our magnifying multiverse.
From Scofield Reference Bible-based revelatory eschatological speculation to a distinctly apocalyptic hope in ceremony-induced serendipity… from a fear of a falling-through-the-cracks faultiness to a love for this piecing-it-all-together process… I will say it again and not a word more (well…) – Nothing else I live through will ever be the same if I take stock in this truth I have gained: Time is our most valuable reserve.
I believe in infinite resources and, yes, boundless love – but our time as the men we are is absolutely limited. This ties us one to another, and emboldens us to broaden our borders as opposed to foolishly lengthening the unfolding. Believer or not, Almighty Time is the unequivocal equalizer. But when life is long, and problems come, perfectionism will find you procrastinating while surrender allows you to be in that sacred, self-realizing current.
So take your sentiment and your spirituality and wrap them in rituals. Rein in this requirement for advancement and encapsulate it in routines. This is an exercise in the failsafeness of the old and in the epiphanies of novelty as we exorcise those demons of doubt and fail and flail into a fabulously metamorphic future. Perhaps God speaks to us in this sanctified space through timelessly timely revelation.
Are you numbed? Rituals transfer you from the stupor to a life-living allowance of what is – an anticipatory premonition of the miraculous.
Are you nervous? Routines ground you in order to uplift you – a waking awareness that as time takes its undisturbed toll, any doomsday of death is only in not having lived a definitive life.
In ritual and routine we can be enslaved or set free (and all manner of in the middle), so we leave space to contemplate, take the time to look and listen, practice a permissiveness of play, have the sagacity to sleep, and maintain the discipline and discernment to do what is of utmost priority in waking hours. Plug yourself in, focus, and be electrified… and regularly re-craft your discipline and re-imagine your devotion to re-invigorate the days and nights of our limited time As We Are in the limitlessness of All That Is!
While untold grandsons of Abraham are wrestling righteousness in weary listlessness and warring lostness, with fearful positions and pointed fingers, I can only pray that we individually – yea, collectively – wake up from the doleful delusion that we have any exclusive control and reawaken to a sense of childlike wonder and inclusivity. I believe that in rightly respected routine and ritual we prompt a synchronous spaciousness for everyday revelatory resplendence.
As for me, I’m fumbling and stumbling within my current routine, thunderously shaking the throne of God on the oft-lonely island of the world’s capital as I submit to re-shifting it to get to All That Can Be. From a blind adolescent obedience to a knowing adult discipline, I affirm the extraordinary in the ordinary, the mundane dreamlike in the heavenly humdrum. Step by step, task by task and, as a matter of course, track by track – “1974” to “Say Once More” – because as the years go by, how I need to see, that that absorbed and imbalanced boy is still me. So I unburden and bare my heart as I listen – “Love has lit a fire, I am the flame…” And I shut my eyes and share in the bearing – “Burning into the darkness, shining out from inside us…”
(Almost four years ago my world enlarged when I enlisted in Julia Cameron’s life-affirming The Artist’s Way. It had me revisit my relationship with ritual and routine, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Alongside it, “An Apocalyptic Adam” was greatly inspired by – with one paragraph in particular practically plagiarizing a portion of it – Greg McKeown’s must-get Essentialism and Henry David Thoreau’s ever-thoughtful Walden. And, of course, I returned to the Book of Revelation to recapture a not-so-distant era, and savored having Amy Grant’s love-led Lead Me On keep me evocative company almost the whole while. Oh, yes – and Seneca snuck his Stoic sensibilities in here as well. So many, so much… Be enriched!)
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