Adelaide. The City of Churches. The Husband and I just enjoyed a long weekend there, whilst Captain Chatterbox and Mademoiselle Headstrong were in the capable, if indulgent, hands of Team GP. You know that low-level, yet unremitting state of, maybe not even anxiety, but, action-readiness, that parents have (non-parents can switch off for a mo here)? The Husband and I were sans this for Two. Whole. Days.
Which gave us the freedom to have, a) an excellent meal at the beautiful Jolleys Boathouse on Friday night, and, b) … wait for it … an uninterrupted conversation.
We meandered, conversation-wise, through many topics, but found ourselves, as always, at “music”. I know, he knows, we all know about the song that changed my life. I had a strong feeling in my waters that The Husband’s would be Paranoid Android. Which it was.
But, of course, there are songs that we all, forever more, associate with particular times, places, people; linked, in our minds, to that point in our lives. One of which, for The Husband, was Get Up, Stand Up. He talked about the omnipresence of reggae during his younger years in Fiji, and then suddenly stated that “you know, ‘we’re sick and tired of the ism schism’ are some of the best lyrics ever.”
Why, though? What do they mean? What do they mean to me?
On Saturday, after one of those superb-yet-ghastly hotel buffet breakfasts, we walked. And walked. And walked a bit more through Adelaide’s picturesque parks, along rose-resplendent streets, past heavenly historic homes, until we came upon the steps of Saint Peter’s Cathedral. Though I am no longer of the flock or faith, I felt compelled to enter. Having been to some of the world’s significant places of Christian worship – Chartres, Notre Dame, the Duomo, Basilica San Pietro, Sante Croce, Westminster Abbey, Saint Paul’s – I was prepared for the architectural and artistic beauty of this structure. What I was unprepared for, however, was the immediate sense of familiarity and peace that flowed over and through me.
I pushed open the fabulously incongruous glass swinging doors and was almost immediately greeted by the gregarious Reverend Frank Nelson himself. He looked like Heston Blumenthal. He thrust upon us church viewing-points maps, he invited us to photograph anything and everything, he pointed out (to my delight) that his church’s Rose Window had been modelled on one at Chartres. He suggested we come to the next day’s Sunday service. “What time is the mass?” asked The (Catholic) (sort of) Husband. The Rev responded by saying, laughingly, that St Peter’s was an Anglican church, but if you closed your eyes and listened, you’d never know there was a difference.
Which, one more time, got me thinking … about the utter stupidity of the ism schisms of our amazing and awful species.
We are all seeking meaning, in one form or another. And there are as many paths to discovering this meaning as there are people.
Some look to “heaven” and an interventionist entity.
Some look within to find the blue pearl.
Some believe we create meaning for ourselves. (I urge you to listen to Stephen Fry’s narrative upon this …)
Some believe that “life is a spiritual exercise in evolving from an exoskeleton for support and survival to an endoskeleton”. Fair enough.
Some, like Ron Swanson, believe that what I believe is none of your ##@% business.
And so on.
The only clear thing about the search for meaning is that there is no one way, no “right” way. So why on earth, and on Earth, do we continue to bicker and battle?
One answer is, simply, fear.
I suggest we replace fear with love. I am trying …
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”